Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

3/13/2014 (1 year 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 (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 July 2015
Universal:
That political responsibility may be lived at all levels as a high form of charity.
Evangelization: That, amid social inequalities, Latin American Christians may bear witness to love for the poor and contribute to a more fraternal society.



Comments


More Middle East

Why the entire world should care about ISIS' destruction of a Syrian temple Watch

Image of Two people walk through what is left of a Syrian neighborhood.

By Kenya Sinclair (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

When ISIS destroyed the Temple of Baalshamin, also referred to as the Temple of Bel, they crumbled more than just pillars and rooms, they ravaged a piece of religious and cultural history loved by not only Syrians, but by the world. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - ... continue reading


'Mystery' structure discovered in Jerusalem: Was it built after Jesus' last days in the Holy City? Watch

Image of Dr. Joe Uziel sits atop the staircase.

By Nikky Andres (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Israeli archaeologists have recently discovered a stone structure in Jerusalem that they deem to have originated from a time shortly after Jesus spent his last days in the Holy City. What the archaeologists don't know is the function the structure played almost 2,000 ... continue reading


Satellite images prove Palmyra's Temple of Bel was destroyed by ISIS Watch

Image of The Temple of Bel was destroyed by ISIS.

By Nikky Andres (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Despite recent reports, the 2,000-year-old ancient temple of Baal Shamin has been destroyed from the Syrian archaeological site of Palmyra. MUNTINLUPA, PHILIPPINES (Catholic Online) - The Palmyra Temple of Baal Shamin was severely damaged in the explosion. According to ... continue reading


ISIS releases horrific execution video setting hanging prisoners on fire (WARNING: GRAPHIC CONTENT)

Image of

By Kenya Sinclair (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

New ISIS propaganda reveals the psychological torture and death of four Iraqi Shia prisoners accused of fighting the terrorist group. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The video begins with the four prisoners dressed in orange jumpsuits introducing themselves to the ... continue reading


Digital knights fight back at ISIS with 3D images Watch

Image of ISIS continuous to destroy historical sites and artifacts in Iraq and Syria.

By Linky C. (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A team of high-tech "monuments men" are determined to stop ISIS from destroying ancient sites in the Middle East. 3D printing technology is being harnessed to reconstruct destroyed antiquities in the area. MUNTINLUPA CITY, PHILIPPINES (Catholic Online) - "Monuments ... continue reading


Iran throws a tantrum, threatens USA, Obama The Weak seeks to appease them Watch

Image of Iran has said it will oppose the USA with all its might, and it has the ability to create havoc in the Middle East. Perhaps we should take their threats at face value, and put the nation's leadership into check?

By David Drudge, Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Iran wants two things from the United States. The first is a treaty, the second is our destruction. Ayatollah Sayyid Ali Khamenei explained this in a speech on Aug. 17 which has now been published online.  LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The Joint ... continue reading


Has ISIS found a new horrific way to kill prisoners? Terrorists release movie poster hinting at different method Watch

Image of Jihadist militants often behead their captives.

By Linky C. (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

An ominous warning from ISIS revealed a possible "new killing style" to be carried out by the group during their captive's execution. A recent video featured prisoners surrounded by militants on horseback. MUNTINLUPA CITY, PHILIPPINES (Catholic Online) - A new way of ... continue reading


Syrian toddler found alive under rubble of bombed home Watch

Image of

By Hannah Marfil

After the airstrike on a residential area located in Douma, near Damascus, a little Syrian girl was trapped under the rubbles of her former home. She was among the lucky ones after her whole family was feared dead of the attack by the Syrian army supposedly to kill the ... continue reading


Young boys brutalized, brainwashed by Islamic State to turn them into boy soldiers Watch

Image of While they are notorious for their mistreatment of women and young girls, not as well known is ISIS' monstrous treatment of boys and young men, who they forcibly recruit to serve as soldiers for the caliphate.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The Islamic State is notorious for their mistreatment of young girls, who are routinely beaten into subjugation in order to become sexual slaves. Not as well known is ISIS' monstrous treatment of boys and young men, who they forcibly recruit to serve as soldiers for ... continue reading


ISIS continues its barbaric treatment for homosexuals and adulterers, releases new footage of gruesome killings (WARNING: GRAPHIC CONTENT) Watch

Image of ISIS crushes the skull of a man accused of having an affair.

By Linky C. (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Several new online photos feature hooded ISIS fighters in the act of stoning and throwing members of the LGBT community from a roof. LGBT groups in the territories held by ISIS experience barbaric treatment from the Jihadist group. MUNTINLUPA CITY, PHILIPPINES ... 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, First Thessalonians 5:1-6, 9-11
1 About times and dates, brothers, there is no need ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for September 1st, 2015 Image

St. Giles, Abbot
September 1: St. Giles, Abbot (Patron of Physically Disabled) Feast day - ... 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