Skip to content

Catholicism growing by leaps and bounds in the Middle East

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
3/13/2014 (3 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 (3 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 2018 - Distributed by THE CALIFORNIA NETWORK

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for FEBRUARY 2018
Say 'No' to Corruption.
That those who have material, political or spiritual power may resist any lure of corruption.


Comments


More Middle East

Christians remaining in ISIS territory hold faith and forgiveness in unimaginable horrors Watch

Image of Christian people face an existential struggle.

"Without an end to this persecution and violence, there is no future for religious pluralism in Iraq or anywhere else in the Middle East ... continue reading


Scholars now decoding the last of the Dead Sea Scrolls Watch

Image of Scholars are decoding the last fragments of the Dead Sea Scrolls.

The Dead Sea Scrolls, which are among the oldest extant biblical manuscripts, have been a topic of interest since they were discovered in ... continue reading


Will protests in Iran bring religious freedom for Christians? Watch

Image of Protests have rocked Iran, which many hope will result in concessions from the hardline regime, but most experts think changes are unlikely.

Ongoing protests in Iran could be a sign of hope for repressed religious minorities, if protesters demand that conscience rights be ... continue reading


2,700-year-old seal discovered in Jerusalem confirms Biblical truth Watch

Image of The seal may have been used as a souvenir or to accompany special, important documents.

Archaeologists have announced the discovery of a Biblical-era seal in Jerusalem. The 2,700-year-old artifact once belonged to a governor of ... continue reading


Suicide bomber kills 8 at church in Pakistan Watch

Image of A suicide bomber killed eight people at a Methodist church in Pakistan.

At least eight churchgoers were killed and another 30 injured in a double suicide bomber attack at a Methodist church in southwest ... continue reading


Never Miss any Updates!

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

Information
Learn about Catholic world

Catholic Online
Inform - Inspire - Ignite

Catholic Online Saints
Your saints explained

Catholic Online Prayers
Prayers for every need

Catholic Online Bible
Complete bible online

Catholic Online News
Your news Catholic eye

Daily Reading
Today's bible reading

Lent / Easter
Death & resurrection of Jesus

Advent / Christmas
Birth of Jesus

Rest of Catholic Online
All Catholic world we offer

Services
Products and services we offer

Catholic Online Shopping
Catholic medals, gifts & books

The California Network
Inspiring streaming service

Advertise on Catholic Online
Your ads on catholic.org

Catholic Online Email
Email with Catholic feel

Catholic Online Singles
Safe, secure Catholic dating

The California Studios
World-class post production service

Education
Learn the Catholic way

Catholic Online School
Free Catholic education for all

Student Classes
K-12 & Adult Education Classes

School Teachers
Teacher lesson plans & resources

Support Free Education
Tax deductible support Free education

Socials
Connect with us online

Catholic Online on Facebook
Catholic social network

Catholic Online on Twitter
Catholic Tweets

Catholic Online on YouTube
Enjoy our videos

Catholic Online on Instagram
Shared Catholic moments

Catholic Online on Pinterest
Catholic ideas style inspiration

Catholic Online Logo

Copyright 2018 Catholic Online. All materials contained on this site, whether written, audible or visual are the exclusive property of Catholic Online and are protected under U.S. and International copyright laws, © Copyright 2018 Catholic Online. Any unauthorized use, without prior written consent of Catholic Online is strictly forbidden and prohibited.