Msgr. Hinder speaks of the Holy Year as an occasion for "reconciliation and forgiveness." In an atmosphere of war and violence "forgiveness become increasingly important." A gesture that must also embrace those who "deny rights and inflict suffering." Thousands of faithful attend Advent Masses. Immigration "contaminates" the very life of the Church.
Abu Dhabi (AsiaNews) - The Year of mercy "has brought many people closer to the faith" and was an occasion for "reconciliation and forgiveness" for those who had "lost their way towards Christ". The Jubilee has given "fruits" that are revealed in their full extent "today and in the future”, says Msgr. Paul Hinder, Apostolic Vicar of Southern Arabia (United Arab Emirates, Oman and Yemen), in these weeks of Advent that prepare for the Christmas festivities. "As I recall in the last pastoral letter - says the bishop - mercy must continue to bear fruit in the future and this return to faith is perhaps the most fruitful".
"There are people - tells the vicar - that turned away from the faith even for negative experiences, because of abuse or violence, or for social or personal problems like drugs. Here, in mission and emigration, they rediscover the presence of the Church, the invitation to reconciliation, contact with others. " In a regional and global climate of war and violence "forgiveness becomes increasingly important," embracing even "those who deny rights and inflict wounds and suffering".
Then there is a reconciliation that must take place "within the Christian community." "Every day - he continues - I experience people who get angry over trivial things, in the face of a much larger drama. Hence the invitation to reflect and think deeply, experiencing a drawing closer with small gestures in everyday life ".
74 year old Msgr. Paul Hinder, apostolic vicar for South Arabia (UAE, Oman, Yemen), is a Franciscan bishop ordained a priest on July 4, 1967. On December 20, 2003 he was appointed Auxiliary Bishop of Arabia and consecrated on January 30, 2004. On March 21, 2005 he succeeded Msgr. Bernardo Gremoli. He is a member of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and the Conference of Latin Bishops of the Middle East.
The southern region is home to about one million faithful, all foreign nationals. The most important is the Filipino community, followed by Indian Catholics, mainly from Kerala. The rest of the church is made up of Lebanese, Syrians, Iraqis, Egyptians and Jordanians who have arrived in the region on business.
Thanks to the freedom of religion granted by the monarchies of the Persian Gulf, the life of the Church is very active and is organized around seven parishes in the United Arab Emirates, four parishes in Oman with about 18 thousand faithful and a small community in Yemen, victims of violence. The territory has 55 priests working in churches and Catholic schools dedicated to migrants.
In these weeks of Advent, the local church has been promoting meetings, days of prayer and spiritual retreats. The regional conference has programmed a day for Catholic nurses, a day dedicated to young people "there are many activities in preparation for Christmas that animate the Catholic community of the Vicariate".
The Church activities, unite the different traditions, each community has here as immigrants and that ends up contaminating the life of the Church. "Here - says Msgr. Hinder - the Filipino tradition of the Novena of Masses are increasingly gaining ground, which are very popular, and gather many faithful". These days in Dubai the vigil Mass "can see as many as 10 thousand people, 5/6 thousand gather in Abu Dhabi. A tremendous witness".
A similar participation for the rite of confession, "a very important ministry in this land and for our Church." There are "thousands" of people who answer the call of confession or participate in meetings, confirming "a people that journeys and that, with the approach of the festivities, does so with ever greater determination and concentration."
Be a reality of immigration, underlines Msgr. Hinder, "encourages them to return to the roots of the faith, to live in the community to overcome isolation and the sense of abandonment. That is why even the masses, like those of the Filipinos, are attended by all. Our task is to give them a deeper motivation that will strengthen their faith, the desire to live it and share it. "