05 December 2016
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    » 01/05/2009, 00.00

    BAHRAIN – VATICAN

    King of Bahrain donates plot of land to build a Catholic church



    The Pope had expressed a desire to see a new place of worship built in the Gulf kingdom when he met Bahrain’s first ambassador to the Holy See. The kingdom is home to some 80,000 Catholics, mostly migrant workers from Asia. This year will mark the 70th anniversary of the country’s first church, inaugurated on Christmas night 1939.
    Manama (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Bahrain will donate a plot of land to build a new Catholic church in the country. The decision by King Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa (pictured) comes in response to a request Pope Benedict XVI made to the Gulf State when its new ambassador presented its credentials last 18 December.

    “Everyone is aware today that because of the rising number of Catholics, it would be desirable for them to have more places of worship,” the Pope said during the audience with Naser Muhamed Youssef Al-Belooshi, first representative of the Arab kingdom to the Vatican.

    About 80 per cent of the 800,000 people living in the country are Muslim (60 per cent Sunni and 20 per cent Shia). Catholics represent about 10 per cent, mostly foreign workers from Asian nations.

    Bahrain became the first country in the Persian Gulf to build a Catholic church, the Sacred Heart Church, which will celebrate its 70th anniversary this year, since it was inaugurated with a Christmas Midnight Mass in 1939.

    Relations between the Holy See and the Gulf kingdom saw significant progress in 2008. Not only did the Vatican receive the first ambassador from Bahrain, but King Hamad met Pope Benedict XVI as well. After the meeting on 9 July the sovereign issued an official communiqué inviting the Holy Father to visit the country.

    When he heard that the Catholic community was going to get a new place of worship, Rev Hani Aziz of the National Evangelical Church said he hoped that the king could generously donate a plot of land to build a new Evangelical church as well.

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    See also

    18/12/2008 VATICAN – BAHRAIN
    Christians and Muslims ought to work together to defend life and the family, says Pope
    In receiving the first Bahraini ambassador, Benedict XVI mentioned that the kingdom was the first country in the Gulf to authorise the building of a church. But respect for religious freedom also “means that people can change religious, if their conscience so dictates.”

    19/05/2014 VATICAN - BAHRAIN
    Pope receives king of Bahrain, where the largest church in the Arabian Peninsula will be built
    King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa gave Pope Francis a scale model of the church. The two leaders also talked about Mideast peace and inter-faith coexistence.

    21/09/2010 BAHRAIN
    Sunni authorities in Manama revoke nationality of Shiite ayatollah
    The decision is linked to a series of measures against the Shiites, who are the majority of citizens. Measures against another cleric and arrests among those who participated in protests against discrimination. Government concern over increasing power of the Shiites in the region.

    06/02/2014 BAHRAIN - VATICAN
    Pope Francis thanks King of Bahrain for land for a new cathedral
    The new church will be dedicated to Our Lady of Arabia, the patron saint of the peninsula. King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa appreciates the Pope’s role in promoting tolerance and coexistence. Jewish and Hindu communities also live in the country. Masses for Christmas and Easter also attended by Saudi Arabian Christians, where no religion other than Islam permitted.

    08/10/2014 BAHRAIN - UNITED KINGDOM
    UK rules Bahraini prince can be prosecuted for torture
    The High Court in London lifts the diplomatic immunity of Nasser bin Hamad Al-Khalifa, 27. Accused of participating in the torture of prisoners during pro-democracy unrest in 2011, he is a horseracing aficionado who considers Britain a "second home."



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