Number of Catholics in Saudi Arabia have quadrupled since 1974

.- Jose Luis Orella, professor of history and thought at St. Paul’s University in Madrid, said this week the number of Catholics in Saudi Arabia, where the Christian faith is outlawed, has quadrupled from 200,000 in 1974 to 800,000 today.

“Saudi Arabia, as protector of the holy Islamic sites, and under the strict interpretation of ‘wahhabism,’ completely prohibits any type of Christian expression or symbols in the country,” the professor said.

Speaking to Europa Press, Orella said the more than three million Christians that live in the Arabian Peninsula are of one hundred different nationalities, although most are from the Philippines, India, Pakistan, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Sudan and Egypt.

In to order to repress Catholic worship, the government makes use of a special police force, the “mutawa,” “the real terror of immigrants, whom they cruelly harass,” Orella stated.  “Any book or object that can be classified as Christian is confiscated and thrown into the trash, and the ‘aggressor’ is incarcerated.”

Priests must operate in secret, he continued, by posing on paper as employees of the numerous companies that are based in Saudi Arabia, and Masses are celebrated either in diplomatic or in clandestine areas.

According to Amnesty International, 329 Christians were detained for different reasons between 1990 and 1993. In 1995 a man named Donato Lama was arrested for spreading the Christian faith and was sentenced to 70 lashes and 18 months in prison, after which he was deported to the Philippines.  In 1984, two other Filipinos, Ruel Janda and Amel Beltran, were beheaded.  More recently, in April of 2005, forty Pakistanis were detained for attending a clandestine Mass in an apartment.

Nevertheless, Orella called Saudi Arabia “the exception” among Arab countries, as both the head of the United Arab Emirates, the emir of Qatar, the King of Bahrain and the Sultan of Oman “have established good relations with the Vatican, and in the last years of the 20th century, they have established diplomatic relations as well.”

“The Catholic Church has a vicariate for Arabia, which includes all of the countries of the peninsula, in order to organize in the best way possible the spiritual help that Christians who have recently settled there need.  The capital of the United Arab Emirates, Abu Dhabi, is where the vicariate is headquartered and where a half-dozen churches have been built, as in Oman, where four churches have been built, and another in Bahrain,” Orella said.

Ads by AdsLiveMedia(What's this?)

* The number of messages that can be online is limited. CNA reserves the right to edit messages for content and tone. Comments and opinions expressed by users do not necessarily reflect the opinions or beliefs of CNA. CNA will not publish comments with abusive language, insults or links to other pages


Ads by Google (What's this?)
Ads by Google (What's this?)

Featured Videos

Pope Francis celebrates the closing Mass and announces site of next World Youth Day
Pope Francis celebrates the closing Mass and announces site of next World Youth Day
Pope Francis visits poor neighborhood and meets with young people from Argentina
Pope Francis celebrates Mass at the National Shrine of Our Lady of Aparecida
Denver rally draws hundreds in support of religious freedom
Pope Francis prays over a sick man in St Peter's Square
Denver women's clinic will offer natural, Catholic care
Interview Clips: Barbara Nicolosi speaks to CNA
US Cardinals press conference at North American College
Pope Benedict to retire to monastery inside Vatican City
Pope cites waning strength as reason for resignation
Hundreds convene in Denver to urge respect for life
New Orange bishop encourages Catholic unity in diversity
Chinese pro-life activist calls for reform, international attention
At Lincoln installation, Bishop Conley says holiness is success
Mother Cabrini shrine reopens in Chicago after a decade
Ordination of 33 deacons fills St. Peter's with joy
Cardinal says "Charity is the mother of all the virtues"
Augustine Institute expands evangelization effort with new campus
Bishops recall 'Way of St. James' as chance to trust in God
Los Angeles cathedral's newest chapel houses Guadalupe relic

Liturgical Calendar

April 19, 2014

Holy Saturday

All readings:
Today »
This year »

Catholic Daily

Gospel of the Day

Mt 28:1-10


Daily Readings

First Reading:: Gen 1:1-2:2
Gospel:: Mt 28:1-10

Saint of the Day

Blessed James Oldo »


Homily of the Day

Mt 28:1-10


Ads by AdsLiveMedia.com

Ads by AdsLiveMedia.com
Text only

Follow us: