Tuesday, February 19, 2008

The Catholic Church in Qatar.

According to wikipiedia, there are more than 58,000 Overseas Filipino Workers working in the Islamic country of Qatar.I do not have the exact numbers, but I assume that the majority of these Filipinos are Roman Catholic.

Even though,"places of worship for various religions is a fundamental human right guaranteed by Islam" the first Catholic church is only now being allowed to be built in Qatar and is nearing completion.The Catholic church of St. Mary will be inaugurated near Doha on March 14 in time for Holy Week and Easter.

Unlike traditional Catholic churches, St Mary's church will not be allowed to display any symbols of Christianity outside the building. It will not have a bell tower nor a standing Cross or other sign showing it to be a Christian place of worship.The reason for the lack of the outward display of Christian symbols is because many Muslims in Qatar believe " that the Christians have the right to practice their faith, but should not have permission to build places of worship".

To reassure the Muslims, St. Mary's parish priest, Father Tomasito Veneracion, said, "It will be merely a place for collective prayer.It will not have crosses outside the building or serve as a platform for proselytizing".

To accommodate the Christian community in Qatar -which includes Indians, Filipinos, Europeans, Arabs and Americans of several denominations- five other Churches are also being built on the compound that has been leased out by Qatari leaders. The Churches include Anglican, Coptic and the Greek Orthodox and an Inter-denomination Christian Church Centre, where 11 Indian churches will be under a single roof.

When this church opens, Saudi Arabia will be the only Islamic nation that does not permit the construction of Christian churches.

There are about 1.2 million Christians in Saudi Arabia, nearly a million of them Catholics. Most are Filipino migrant workers.

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