Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

3/13/2014 (2 years 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 (2 years 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."

---


'Help give every student and teacher Free resources for a world-class moral Catholic education'


Copyright 2017 - Distributed by THE CALIFORNIA NETWORK

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for DECEMBER 2016
Universal:
End to Child-Soldiers: That the scandal of child-soldiers may be eliminated the world over.
Evangelization: Europe: That the peoples of Europe may rediscover the beauty, goodness, and truth of the Gospel which gives joy and hope to life.



Comments


More Middle East

CHRISTIANS ATTACKED - Extremists destroy buildings and send Christians to hospital in Egypt Watch

Image of Christians continue the fight for rights in Egypt.

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

A Christian charity and watchdog group reported Coptic Christians in Egypt have become the latest victims of radical Islamists. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - According to International Christian Concern (ICC), the village of Manshiet El-Naghamish was attacked by ... continue reading


BIZARRE: Israel unveils jar with curious figure - but what's he thinking about? Watch

Image of What's he thinking about?

By Marshall Connolly (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

An unusual jar has made its debut in Israel. The formerly-shattered clay vessel is topped with a figurine that looks curiously like "The Thinker." LOS ANGELES, CA (California Network) -- "An ancient clay vessel has been presented to the world by the Israeli Antiques ... continue reading


INSIDE THE TERROR: Aleppo airstrike leaves doctors desperate to save trapped children Watch

Image of Airstrikes had hospital staff scrambling to safe babies from incubators (Aljazeera).

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Air raids have been conducted in Syria for months but one of the most recent strikes hit a hospital, leaving doctors scrambling to save babies trapped in incubators. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - According to Aljazeera, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights ... continue reading


Divine justice or horrible tragedy? ISIS Cub of the Caliphate accidentally kills his family when suicide vest detonates Watch

Image of ISIS continues to use Cubs of the Caliphate to carry out the less savory jobs.

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

A teenager recruited by ISIS, said to belong to the "Cubs of the Caliphate," killed his entire family by mistake. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - According to Iraq News, a local source told Alsumaria News that the teen was a Cub of the Caliphate, children raised ... continue reading


TOUGH CLASS: The one class these children take to determine if they live or die Watch

Image of

By Marshall Connolly (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

As children return home to their villages in northern Iraq, they are expected to take a very important class. How they do in that class will determine if they live or die. LOS ANGELES, CA (California Network) - No class in the world is as serious as the one offered to ... continue reading


'We are so happy' - Catholics meet to celebrate Mass first time in two years Watch

Image of Catholics got to celebrate Mass at the Mart Shoomy Assyrian church (not pictured).

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

As ISIS is cleared from Christian cities in the Middle East, the faithful are finally able to reconvene for Mass. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Late last month, Christians were able to celebrate their first Mass in a <a ... continue reading


'For generations, life was normal there' - ISIS doubles executions in Mosul Watch

Image of The battle for Mosul rages.

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

In the city of Mosul, ISIS has been struggling to maintain its hold. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Iraqi forces have been clearing bombs and other traps as they make their way through Mosul and its surrounding cities.Terrorists are getting antsy and desperate, ... continue reading


Join us in a prayer for peace - Assad bombs kindergarten killing six children (WARNING: GRAPHIC IMAGES) Watch

Image of Six children were killed in the attack (Reuters).

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

In the Syrian rebel-held city of Harasta, children were slaughtered by a bombing believed to have been deployed by President Bashar al-Assad. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - At a nursery school in Harasta, children played on indoor playground equipment, pushed ... continue reading


ISIS leader Al-Baghdadi may be captured in Mosul, orders men to fight to the death Watch

Image of Abu Al Baghdadi has ordered his men to fight to the death, as he is trapped in the city with them.

By Marshall Connolly (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi is ordering his men to fight to the death in Mosul. Suicide bombers and lone wolves have been encouraged to attack. It's the kind of orders that desperate leaders issue. Baghdadi is thought to be in Mosul himself. LOS ANGELES, CA (California ... continue reading


A powerful king, a fleet of royal ships, and - pottery? Take a look into one of the most powerful pharaoh's tombs Watch

Image of Images of war boats preparing to attack were discovered alongside a great pharaoh's tomb (Josef Wegner).

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Archaeologists are hard at work to uncover the secrets of ancient tombs across Egypt - but what they just discovered may have great implications. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - A 3,800-year-old tomb in Egypt is still spilling secrets as over 120 images adorning ... continue reading


All Middle East News

Newsletters

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, Isaiah 11:1-10
1 A shoot will spring from the stock of Jesse, a new shoot will grow from ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 72:1-2, 7-8, 12-13, 17
1 [Of Solomon] God, endow the king with your own fair judgement, the son ... Read More

Gospel, Matthew 3:1-12
1 In due course John the Baptist appeared; he proclaimed this message in ... Read More

Reading 2, Romans 15:4-9
4 And all these things which were written so long ago were written so ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for December 4th, 2016 Image

St. John of Damascus
December 4: Saint John Damascene has the double honor of ... Read More