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Bishop: Church not persecuted in Bahrain

Catholic World News - March 20, 2014

The bishop responsible for ministering to Catholics in Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia spoke about the situation of the Church in Bahrain, where he is overseeing the construction of a cathedral.

Christians-- mostly Asian guest workers-- are “10% of the population,” Bishop Camillo Ballin said in an interview with Aid to the Church in Need. “We cannot evangelize as it is understood in other countries of the world. We can only witness to the bounty and love of God through our daily life. The best place for this kind of witness is the school.”

“No government in the Gulf has a policy of forced conversion from Christianity to Islam,” he added. “There are, however, some zealous individuals. Of course, it is forbidden to convert from Islam to Christianity.”

Asked whether the Church is persecuted, the prelate said, “No, absolutely not … Our Church is officially recognized by the various governments. We are not a private group or a hidden sect. We are a Church whose presence is recognized by the governments and I always tell the country’s leadership that they have nothing to fear from the Catholic Church, which always will respect their countries’ faith, culture and traditions.”

“I have been in Bahrain for two years now, and never have I perceived any negative attitudes toward Christians,” he continued. “In Bahrain, as well as in Kuwait and Qatar, I move about in my cassock and with my pectoral cross. There never have been problems; on the contrary, I am very much respected. The Catholic Church is known to all as a Church that respects all and helps all.”

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