Number of Catholics in Saudi Arabia have quadrupled since 1974
Facebook Twitter Google+ Pinterest Addthis

.- 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

Featured Videos

Cardinal Luis Tagle to Pope Francis
Cardinal Luis Tagle to Pope Francis
Pope Francis in the Philippines: Manila Welcomes the Pope
Pope Francis in Sri Lanka: Highlights
Pope Francis in Sri Lanka: Interview with Cardinal Ranjith
Pope Francis in SriLanka: Inter-religious Faith Meeting
Little Sisters of the Poor press conference in Denver
Family thrilled to see Pope Francis in Istanbul
Syrian Refugee, Sara, 14, Before Meeting Pope
Ebola orphans thousands of children in West Africa
One year after Haiyan: Philippines rebuilds homes, lives
An Indian contribution to the Vatican's Synod on the Family
Christ Cathedral CNA video Sept 2014
Alejandro Bermudez of CNA accepts ice bucket challenge
'The Real Albania,' remembering those who fled
Pope Francis in Albania, "one of the most important visits of the post-communist era in Albania"
Pope Francis greets paralyzed man who risked all to see him
Franciscans on the banks of the Tiber in Rome, working for the New Evangelization
Pilgrimage from Czech Republic to Assisi and Rome for intentions
Testimony of young Indian who met Pope in Korea
Preparations of the Closing Mass of 6th Asian Youth Day

Liturgical Calendar

January 25, 2015

Third Sunday in Ordinary Time

All readings:
Today »
This year »

Catholic Daily

Gospel of the Day

Mk 1:14-20


Daily Readings

Saint of the Day

St. Romuald »


Homily of the Day

Mk 1:14-20