Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

3/13/2014 (1 year ago)

Catholic Online (

Migrant workers bringing their faith into traditional Muslim strongholds

The Middle East is seen as a Muslim stronghold, with little room for those of opposing or different faiths. Christian minorities in this part of the world often practice their religion in secret, or face persecution. Most remarkably, however, Catholicism is growing in this part of the world thanks to migrant workers who bring their faith with them.

Bishop Camillo Ballin said that sometimes Christian workers in Bahrain are promised better salaries or other perks if they convert.

Bishop Camillo Ballin said that sometimes Christian workers in Bahrain are promised better salaries or other perks if they convert.


By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Catholic Online (

3/13/2014 (1 year ago)

Published in Middle East

Keywords: Bahrain, Catholics, persecution, poverty,

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - In a region populated by vastly wealthy families who are connected to oil, the are relies on immigrants for manual labor and domestic service. Filipinos, Indians, Sri Lankans, Pakistanis, Koreans and members of other nationalities are becoming the new working poor in some of the world's wealthiest societies.

The Catholic population on the peninsula is estimated at around 2.5 million. Kuwait and Qatar are home to between 350,000 and 400,000 Catholics, Bahrain has about 140,000, and Saudi Arabia itself has 1.5 million.

Mired in poverty, lacking citizenship rights and belonging to a religious minority expectedly would leave many faithful here at a distinct disadvantage. Despite these odds, Catholics here have created a welcoming environment for others connected by their faith.

King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifah of Bahrain recently agreed to donate land for the construction of a Catholic church, to be called "Our Lady of Arabia." The church will serve as the cathedral for the Vicariate of Northern Arabia.

Guest workers here who want to attend Mass generally go to one of the Western embassies, especially Italy's. They also gather either in a private home or on the grounds of a foreign-owned oil company.

Member of the Comboni missionary religious order, 69-year-old Bishop Camillo Ballin leads the local Catholic community. He was recently in the United States to raise money for the cathedral, which he estimates will cost around $30 million.

Ballin termed the decision in Bahrain "a good sign of dialogue which should be imitated by other countries." Ballin is upfront about the fact that he lives in one of the world's most difficult places to be a Christian.

"It's not the policy of the governments of these countries to convert anyone or to impose Islam," he said. "But those pressures are often applied by individuals and radical Islamic movements."

Ballin said that sometimes Christian workers are promised better salaries or other perks if they convert. They've also been forced to work schedules that make attending Mass on Sunday virtually impossible.

Building a church here is a tricky proposition, he acknowledges. In deference to Islamic sensitivities, he said, the new cathedral won't have a cross at the top or any other outward sign of its Christian identity.

"In the Arabic world in general, this is a time of cruel fanaticism," Ballin said. "We don't want to provoke the fanatics by making ourselves a target."

"As Christians, external crosses are important, but they're not essential," he said. "The important thing is to witness with our lives that as Christians, we're children of a Father who loves everyone."


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'

Copywriter 2015 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for October 2015
That human trafficking, the modern form of slavery, may be eradicated.
Evangelization: That with a missionary spirit the Christian communities of Asia may announce the Gospel to those who are still awaiting it.


More Middle East

U.S./Iran negotiation ban effective immediately Watch

Image of Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.


On Wednesday, Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei prohibited further negotiations between Iran and the United States, further isolating Iran following July's nuclear deal. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Khamenei, who is the highest authority in the ... continue reading

Disturbing graphic video encourages Arabs to kill Jews in Jerusalem Watch

Image of Video promotes Jewish stereotypes and encourages Arabs to kill Jews in Jerusalem (YouTube).


A disturbing video depicting the stabbing of Jewish men was uploaded to YouTube on Hamas' official Channel. YouTube removed the video, calling it a violation of the prohibition against promoting hate speeches. However, the video was reuploaded to a pro-Israel blog. LOS ... continue reading

Russian jets shadow U.S. drones in Syria Watch

Image of U.S. predator drones were


American officials revealed that Russian fighter jets intercepted and shadowed U.S. predator drones on three separate occasions following the initiation of Russian airstrikes last week. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Intelligence reports from U.S. officials ... continue reading

Syrian woman gang raped and later stabbed to death in honor killing for being 'unclean' Watch

Image of Rockstan M. was killed by her own father and two brothers, allegedly on orders given by her mother (Twitter).


Rokstan M. managed to escape in Syria after being gang-raped by three men. She fled to Germany but was later murdered by her own father and two brothers, allegedly by her own mother's orders because she was seen as "unclean" after the sexual assault. LOS ANGELES, CA ... continue reading

'Don't make it worse for yourselves': Lleaflets dropped from Russian helicopters warn civilians to flee and rebels to give up Watch

Image of Russian military drops leaflets above Rastan and Talbiseh, Syria.


Russia reportedly dropped at least ten thousand leaflets with distinct messages aimed at civilians and rebel troops, including ISIS members.Through a Kremlin-friendly website, the leaflet details were posted, including warnings for people to leave the area before more ... continue reading

The Feared Spetsnaz: Russian special forces sent to take out rebels -including the Free Syrian Army Watch

Image of Spetsnaz special forces.


Feared Spetsnaz special forces were reportedly sent by Russian President Vladimir Putin to obliterate Islamic State terrorists and the moderate rebel groups against Bashar al-Assad. The special troops' intervention was said to be indicative of Russia's support for the ... continue reading

What is the Islamic State doing with all those Toyota vehicles? Watch

Image of It took awhile for others to catch on, but propaganda videos released by Islamic State, or ISIS, shows them using an extraordinary amount of vehicles from Japanese car manufacturer Toyota.


It took awhile for others to catch on, but propaganda videos released by Islamic State, or ISIS, shows them using an extraordinary amount of vehicles from Japanese car manufacturer Toyota. The U.S. Treasury Department has since launched an inquiry as to why. ... continue reading

Yazidi grandfather opens up about ISIS and the tragic loss of his three granddaughters Watch

Image of Atto holds pictures of his grandchildren (Owen Holdaway).


A Yazidi grandfather shared the tragic story of his three granddaughters who died in the Mediterranean Sea during their attempt to flee the ISIS regime. The children aged 8, 12 and 15 drowned when the smuggler's boat overturned. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - ... continue reading

ISIS threatens Christians to sign subservience contract or 'be killed' Watch

Image of ISIS continues to reign in terror in Syria


ISIS recently conquered another Syrian town, which was featured in the latest ISIS propaganda video. ISIS threatened Christians in the area to sign a contract of subservience to Muslim rule or face death. The video also included a warning to Christians in America. LOS ... continue reading

Pregnant Yazidi sex slaves forced into brutal abortions Watch

Image of ISIS sex slaves who became pregnant were forced to abort through brutal abortions leaving them unable to walk or even speak.

By Kenya Sinclair (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

ISIS members forced pregnant sex slaves to have barbaric abortions that leave the women bleeding heavily and in so much pain they are unable to speak or walk. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Young Yazidi women who escaped their lives as ISIS sex slaves opened up to ... continue reading

All Middle East News


Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Subscribe to Catholic OnlineYouTube Channel

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Malachi 3:13-20
13 'You have said harsh things about me, says Yahweh. ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 1:1-2, 3, 4, 6
1 How blessed is anyone who rejects the advice of the ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 11:5-13
5 He also said to them, 'Suppose one of you has a ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for October 8th, 2015 Image

St. Pelagia
October 8: Pelagia, more often called Margaret, on account of the ... Read More