$32,057 to go to meet our Challenge Grant, by December 1st. Your gift now will count twice!
Click here to advertise on CatholicCulture.org

Catholic World News News Feature

Saudis to allow construction of a Catholic church? March 17, 2008

The Vatican is negotiating with the government of Saudi Arabia to allow construction of a Catholic church in that country, Vatican Radio reports.

Islam is the state religion of Saudi Arabia. The government has not allowed the construction of any non-Muslim place of worship. No religion other than Islam is allowed to schedule public services, and even the possession of Bibles, rosaries, and crucifixes is forbidden.

While it is home to 800,000 Catholics-- virtually all of them foreign workers-- Saudi Arabia is the only country on the Arabian Peninsula without a Catholic church. However King Abdullah has now given his support to the drive for construction of a Catholic church.

Saudi Arabia does not have formal diplomatic relations with the Holy See. But in November 2007, King Abdullah became the first reigning Saudi monarch ever to visit the Vatican. Commenting after his meeting with Pope Benedict XVI, Vatican officials had confirmed that the Pontiff pressed for permission to open a Catholic church in Saudi Arabia.

Vatican diplomats have long argued that Islamic states should practice reciprocity in recognizing the religious freedom of their Christian minorities, just as the predominantly Christian states of Europe recognize the rights of Muslims. The city of Rome, for example, has allowed construction of one of Europe's largest mosques.

Father Federico Lombardi, the spokesman for the Holy See, said that opening a Catholic parish in the Islamic land would be "a historic achievement" for religious freedom and a major step forward for inter-religious dialogue.

The apostolic nuncio to Kuwait, Qatar, Yemen, the United Arab Emirates, and Bahrain, Archbishop Paul-Mounged El-Hachem, is reportedly the lead Vatican negotiator in talks with Saudi officials.

Fall 2014 Campaign
Subscribe for free
Shop Amazon
Click here to advertise on CatholicCulture.org

Recent Catholic Commentary

Putting Our Best Foot Forward 2 hours ago
Contentious Spirits, Beware! October 30
And here's another very old story: the secular media don't understand Catholic affairs October 29
How not to be persuasive October 29
Francis the Man, Francis the Pope October 28

Top Catholic News

Most Important Stories of the Last 30 Days
Key synod report calls for 'gradualism' in Church response to irregular family situations CWN - October 13
As synod concludes, bishops issue message, approve document; Pope weighs in CWN - October 20
Synod of Bishops opens with Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica CWN - October 6