Religious Freedom
Catholics free to worship in Kuwait, says bishop

.- The Catholic Church in Kuwait "enjoys freedom of worship and suffers no restriction whatsoever," says Bishop Camillo Ballin, vicar apostolic of Kuwait.

The 63-year-old bishop and Comboni missionary spoke with AKI while attending an international gathering of Catholic clerics and researchers in Venice. Participants came from 18 countries, 11 of them majority Muslim.

Bishop Ballin said the crucifix can be exposed in churches without a problem, and he is free to wear his episcopal robe and cross without anyone looking at him strangely.

"Although Islamic extremists have different and adverse positions, there is no exterior sign to indicate it," he said about Kuwait.

Kuwait is home to approximately 150,000 Catholics in a mainly Muslim population of more than 2.5 million. The Kuwaiti Constitution provides for freedom of religion, but the government is reported to periodically send inspectors around to ensure that no religious teaching other than Islam is being done in both public and private schools.

Relations with the Kuwaiti government are good, he said: "The local government fully meets our demands and is extremely generous. It offers us places of worship and all the necessary help in bureaucratic and official procedures."

For example, he said, when there are major feast days, such as Christmas and Easter, authorities send security forces to protect the community attending Mass.

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