.- While the population of Christians in some Middle Eastern countries, such as Lebanon, is dropping at a dramatic rate, a few countries are experiencing an increase in Christian citizens.
Father Pierre Grech, general secretary of the Conference of Latin Bishops of the Arab Regions, has confirmed an increase in the number of Christians in the Middle East. “In Saudi Arabia alone, there are more than one million (Christians), especially from the Philippines, India, and Korea. In Kuwait there are more than 300,000 and more are coming. In Chipre we have opened a home for religious from Sri Lanka so that they can give a better reception to those who immigrate to the island,” Fr. Grech noted.
In an interview with the Italian news agency SIR, Father Grech said the matter was discussed at a recent gathering of the bishops conference. “We think the time has come for a new pastoral approach, designed to meet the needs and demands of these Catholics who are not from the Middle East,” he explained. “We are considering publishing a pastoral letter on immigrants, leaving it to the bishops to decide how to promote local initiatives in order to reach out to them. The immigration of Catholics is the new frontier of the churches in the Middle East,” he added.
But while many new Catholics are coming to the region, others are leaving. In these latter, Father Grech said, “We want to renew their sense of mission and help them rediscover their Christian identity.” The Conference of Latin Bishops, he added, is seeking to “promote prayer groups, lay communities dedicated to the study of the Bible and to education, as well as a plan to offer material help, including helping young couples to have homes and providing scholarships,” Father Grech said.