King Isa Al-Khalifah of Bahrain has given land to the Catholic Church to construct a 2,500 seat church in the Middle Eastern island nation, to be called Our Lady of Arabia. Bishop Camillo Ballin, the apostolic vicar of the northern Arabian Peninsula, traveled to the United States this month to raise a portion of the $30 million needed for the construction of the church.
Bishop Camillo Ballin said, “Many people have started to come from India, Philippines, Pakistan, Bangladesh and other countries. They started to come for work and to have a better life. So now the Catholic community is by very far the largest religious community. We are in good relations with the Protestants, with the Anglicans. There are not even conflicts between us and the Muslims. Certain tensions are among the Muslims themselves; not between the Muslims and the Christians.”
“There is a big percentage of the faithful coming to Sunday Mass. They feel more of a necessity to be with God, in communion with God, because they are alone. Many of them left their families, relatives and friends in their home countries.They find consolation in God. I have around 30% to 35% of faithful coming to Mass”, he added.
“The Christians in Bahrain, Kuwait and Qatar have full freedom of worship within the compounds of the church. No police enter the church to control what we are doing. No government interferes inside the church. We are very much respected. But outside the church, we cannot do any religious things.”
Bishop Camillo Ballin