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)
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.
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."
Copyright 2017 - Distributed by THE CALIFORNIA NETWORK
Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for MARCH 2017
Support for Persecuted Christians. That persecuted Christians may be supported by the prayers and material help of the whole Church.
Drone footage revealed ISIS members using children as human shields during gunfights in Mosul. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - ... continue reading
Now that Mosul, Iraq is mostly cleared of ISIS' presence, many Christians are attempting to return to their homes. LOS ANGELES, CA ... continue reading
Christians in ancient Jerusalem were forced to flee invading Persian forces and many fell to invader swords - but what did they leave ... continue reading
A mass grave was discovered in Mosul, Iraq, containing 24 bodies - most of which were children. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Iraqi ... continue reading
<i>Warning: The following article contains graphic depictions of violence that readers may find disturbing.</i> Aleppo, Syria ... continue reading
by Catholic Online
- St. Benjamin: Saint of the Day for Friday, March 31, 2017
- Pope Francis shares important message with families HD Video
- Implant allows paralyzed man to move arm using his thoughts HD Video
- 'Living Lent': Friday of the Fourth Week of Lent - Day 31
- Daily Readings for Friday, March 31, 2017
- IHOP employee pictured with disabled customer melts hearts around the ...
- The one strange thing millennials are giving up for Lent
- Daily Reading for Friday, March 31st, 2017 HD
- Daily Reading for Thursday, March 30th, 2017 HD
- Cause of California's drought is revealed HD
- Pope Francis' important message for children HD
Copyright 2017 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 2017 Catholic Online. Any unauthorized use, without prior written consent of Catholic Online is strictly forbidden and prohibited.