Diego Sarrió Cucarella, M.Afr., Rector of PISAI, was invited to attend the celebration organized to commemorate the 200th anniversary of Bahrein’s oldest Hindu temple. The event took place on 27 March 2019 at the temple premises, located in the heart of the Old Market of Manama, the Kingdom’s capital. The celebration was attended by numerous ambassadors and senior state officials, including the King’s personal representative, His Highness Shaykh Abdullah bin Hamad Al Khalifa. Also present were representatives of the many religious communities present in Bahrein, a country which is proud of its multicultural and multireligious character. Father Diego accompanied Professor Alessandro Saggioro, from the Sapienza University of Rome, who holds the King Hamad Chair for Inter-Faith Dialogue and Peaceful Coexistence, inaugurated on 5 November 2018. This Chair embodies the vision of Bahrain’s monarch, King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, for promoting religious freedom and peaceful coexistence on a global basis, as expressed in The Kingdom of Bahrain Declaration of 3 July 2017.
In addition to the celebration, this visit to Bahrein was an occasion for Father Diego to visit Sacred Heart Church, Bahrain’s only Catholic Parish, founded in 1939, where PISAI’s late professor, Father Maurice Borrmans, served from 1981 to 1984. Father Diego and Professor Saggioro also had the chance to visit the construction site of the future Cathedral of Our Lady of Arabia, which is being erected on a terrain donated by King Hamad in 2013.
Among the many interesting meetings that took place during this short trip to Bahrain, it is worth mentioning a visit to the majlis of Shaykh Abdul Hussain Khalaf Al-Asfoor, son of the late Khalaf Al-Asfoor (d. 1936), the leading Shi‘i scholar of Bahrain of his time, and a visit to the Royal University for Women, the first private university accredited by the Higher Education Council in the Kingdom of Bahrain.