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     Home > Synod >  2010-10-14 17:11:29
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Intervention of Mons. Paul HINDER, Apostolic Vicar of Arabia (UNITED ARAB EMIRATES)

The two Vicariates of the Arabian Peninsula, comprising Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, UAE, Oman, Yemen and Saudi Arabia, have no native Christians. The 3 million Catholics in a population of 65 million inhabitants are all labor migrants from a hundred nations, the majority from the Philippines and India. About 80% are of Latin Rite. the others belong to Catholic Oriental Churches. Both Apostolic Vicars are of Latin Rite; the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin has the ius commissionis for the territory; two thirds of the 80 priests are Capuchin Friars from India, the Philippines, Europe and America, belonging to different rites.
The special situation in the Vicariates of the Gulf:
1. Catholic presence in Arab countries with Islam as state religion. Strict immigration laws (restriction on the number of priests) and security system. Individual rights and social care very limited. No freedom of religion (no Muslim can convert but Christians are welcome into Islam), limited freedom of worship in designated places, granted by benevolent rulers (except in Saudi Arabia). Churches too few, attendance very high, in a single parish up to 25 000 on Fridays with 10 and more masses. Distance from church, employment and camp rules make participation for many impossible. Catholic Church is law abiding and trusted by the government.

2. Unity of Catholic Church in diversity of rites and nationalities. The Church has to adapt its structures and pastoral work to the limits imposed by the external circumstances. The Rescript ex audientia approved by Pope John Paul II in 2003 and confirmed by Pope Benedict XVI in 2006 gives jurisdiction over all the faithful of whatever Church, rite or nationality, to the two Ordinaries under whose sole jurisdiction all the priests in the Vicariates work. The Ordinaries have the obligation that the faithful of other sui iuris Churches may practice and observe the norms of their Rite, which they do to the best of their ability. The Rescript has helped to maintain and promote unity, to avoid fragmentation and to provide the best possible pastoral ministry to all the Catholic faithful. All priests must render service to all the faithful, assisted by the thousands of lay volunteers in catechesis, youth and family ministry, hospital and prison apostolate and social work.
Through fraternal relations between the two Apostolic Vicars and the heads of the Oriental sui iuris Churches communion will be strengthened and agreements of collaboration made in respect of the particular situation in order to make more vibrant the witness of the Church in the Gulf which is an exclusively pilgrim and migrant Church.

[00074-02.02] [IN052] [Original text: English]


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