Sunday, 17 February 2013

Arab King gives land to Catholic church

The King of Bahrain has donated 9,000 square metres of land to the Catholic Church for the construction of a cathedral.

Mgr Camillo Ballin, mccj, Apostolic Vicar of north Arabia, vicariate which includes Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar and Saudi Arabia told Fides that he was in Kuwait when he received a request for a meeting from the King of Bahrain's Minister, Shaykh Ahmed Bin Ateytallah Al Khalifa, who later handed him the deeds to the land.
Mgr Ballin was keen to highlight that the document was dated 11 February, the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes that in Bahrain corresponds to Our Lady of Arabia .

"Our prayers have been answered," writes the Bishop. "Our Lady of Arabia is capable of doing miracles!"
Bishop Ballin said that 13 February he was invited to the royal palace for a meeting with King Hamad bin Issa al-Khalifa with all the religious authorities, and was that he was going to be seated seated next to the King as a guest of honour. He said this would enable him to personally thank the King for this gift. The new church will be Cathedral dedicated to Our Lady of Arabia.

Here is what Wikipedia says about the land:

In August 2012, the Apostolic Vicariate of Northern Arabia was created and its headquarters was decided to be in Bahrain. The largest Catholic church in the Persian Gulf is to be constructed in Awali, south of Manama, the countries capital.The land for the church is being provided by King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa due to a request from Pope Benedict XVI in December 2008, and will cover 9,000 square meters. It will be the headquarters for the Apostolic Vicariate of Northern Arabia, and also open to other Christian denominations. Protests from various Islamist groups have occurred over the donation. Although Bahrain does have a small native Christian population, most Catholics in Bahrain are ex-patriots from India, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Lebanon, and Western countries. Many parishioners are people who cross the border from Saudi Arabia, where there are no churches and it is illegal to be a Christian.There are currently two churches in the country; Sacred Heart Church in the capital Manama, and Our Lady of the Visitation in Awali in central Bahrain.

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