Doha (AsiaNews/Agencies) – 15 thousand attended the first “ordinary” mass celebrated in the church of Our Lady of the Rosary, in Doha on Saturday. The mass was presided over by Cardinal Ivan Dias, prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of peoples. The day before the Cardinal had consecrated what is in effects, the first church in the Gulf State.
The faithful began arriving early morning, but the building, which has a capacity of 5 thousand, couldn’t contain them all: thousands were forced to follow the rite from outside. Order was assured by the dozens of police who watched over participants, perhaps in fear of protests against the building of the church which had emerged in recent weeks, led by fundamentalist Muslim groups. The rite was celebrated in English with prayer so the faithful in Arabic, Urdu, Hindi, Tagalong, Spanish and French, the predominant languages of those present.
The Church of Our Lady of the Rosary is the first of a group of Christian buildings which the Sultan has allowed: the Catholic Church will be followed by Anglican, Orthodox, Coptic and Indian buildings. “A positive message for the entire world”: was how Qatari deputy Prime Minister Abdullah bin Hamad al-Attiyah defined Our Lady of the Rosary.
Similar considerations were made by the Apostolic Nuncio Msgr. Paul-Munjed al-Hashem, who also expressed his hope that diplomatic relations, may be established between Saudi Arabia and Oman, the only two Gulf nations without direct relations with the Holy See.