Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

3/13/2014 (7 months ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

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.

Highlights

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

3/13/2014 (7 months 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'


2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for October 2014
Peace:
That the Lord may grant peace to those parts of the world most battered by war and violence.
World Mission Day: That World Mission Day may rekindle in every believer zeal for carrying the Gospel into all the world.



Comments


More Middle East

Yazidi women treated as slaves by Islamic State Watch

Image of Kurdish authorities say they have rescued around 100 Yazidi women, in part through the payment of ransoms to Arab tribesmen who acted as intermediaries.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The religious minority group, the Yazidis have faced murder, torture and enslavement at the hands of Islamic State over the past several months. Yazidi men are routinely lined up and shot while the women are kept as sex slaves or put into forced marriage with ... continue reading


30 tribesmen in western Iraq executed by Islamic State (WARNING GRAPHIC PHOTOS)

Image of More than 1,000 heavily-armed tribesmen and some troops left the town in around 500 vehicles to take refuge in the nearby town of Barwana.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

More than 30 tribesmen were executed by Islamic State in western Iraq this week. In the meantime, government forces are continuing their offensive against the extremist militants across the country. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The Islamic State captured ... continue reading


Muslims criticize the Islamic State for perverting Islam Watch

Image of Fighters from the Islamic State watch over captured Syrian soldiers.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A new voice in the international community is speaking out against the Islamic State; over 100 Muslim leaders have signed a 17-page letter that criticizes and condemns the terrorist state, their actions in Iraq and Syria, and their interpretation of the Quran and ... continue reading


U.S. journalist endured continuous torture before being executed by ISIS Watch

Image of In spite of all of his torture, James Foley would share his limited rations with other captives, and gave up his blanket to somebody else in the depths of winter, other prisoners said.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Forty-year-old U.S. journalist James Foley suffered torture at the hands of his ISIS captors before they killed him. Captured in 2012 and executed in 2014, his torments included waterboarding, virtual starvation and being hung upside-down by his ankles. LOS ... continue reading


Into the wrong hands: ISIS fighters seize weapons from U.S. airdrop Watch

Image of The incident was more of an embarrassment than a strategic loss. ISIL fighters already possess millions of dollars' worth of U.S. weaponry that they captured from fleeing Iraqi soldiers when the group seized swaths of Iraq in June.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Islamic State fighters are believed to have seized at least one cache of weapons airdropped by the U.S. The payload reportedly missed besieged Kurdish militias defending the Syrian border town of Kobane. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - "Yesterday we announced ... continue reading


HORRIFIC video shows Islamic State stoning Yazidi woman - by group of men, including HER father Watch

Image of In a related incident, a man was executed in Idlib province in an area controlled by Islamist groups including the Nusra Front, al Qaeda's official affiliate in Syria.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A sickening video of a young woman being stoned to death by a group of men, which includes her own father, has been released by Islamic State. The video is believed to have been filmed in the city of Hama. The clip shows a bearded cleric ranting at the woman in ... continue reading


Yazidi woman 'I've been raped 30 times and it's not even lunchtime!' Watch

Image of A Yazidi woman over the telephone that she had been raped so frequently that she could no longer use the toilet. She says that her despair is so great she will commit suicide - even if she is freed.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A young Yazidi woman held captive by the Islamic State for repeated sexual abuse says that she was raped 30 times in just a few hours. Kept prisoner, she now begs the West to bomb the brothel where she is being held. It's believed that she's being kept prisoner ... continue reading


Islamic State has infiltrated INSIDE of Turkey with attempt to kidnap Syrian leader Watch

Image of Militants have recently shot and wounded a senior Syrian rebel commander within the nation. The incident has raised questions of Ankara's commitment to defeating the terror group.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

While Islamic State fighters batter the Syrian city of Kobani near the border with Turkey, ISIS agents are apparently now currently operating within the nation of Turkey. Militants have recently shot and wounded a senior Syrian rebel commander within the ... continue reading


Jack 'the acid' Ripper: Suspects arrested in connection with acid attacks against women in Iran Watch

Image of Though the attacks have instilled fear in some women in the city, many continue to live their lives without apologies.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Iranian authorities have arrested a number of people suspected of throwing acid at women. Its' believed that the women were wearing their traditional Islamic head covering improperly. The public had grown increasingly angry over the series of attacks in the ... continue reading


Sectarian violence spreads in Yemen, where Shi'ite militia square off against al-Qaeda Watch

Image of A member of the Shi'ite military Houthi organization.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A Yemeni city was taken by al Qaeda fighters, and 33 people were killed by a suicide bombing and gun fighting during the group's challenge to the Yemeni government. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - This is just the latest bout of violence that has erupted in ... continue reading


All Middle East News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

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

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Philippians 1:1-11
1 Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus, to all ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 111:1-2, 3-4, 5-6
1 Alleluia! I give thanks to Yahweh with all my ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 14:1-6
1 Now it happened that on a Sabbath day he had gone ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for October 31st, 2014 Image

St. Wolfgang
October 31: Wolfgang (d. 994) + Bishop and reformer. Born in Swabia, ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter