PopeWatch: Saudi Arabia

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The Vatican has denied making a deal with Saudi Arabia to build churches for Christian worshippers in the Arab country. 

Reports in Middle Eastern media claimed a historic agreement had been made between Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran and Mohammed bin Abdel Karim Al-Issa of the Muslim World League.

But a spokesperson for the Vatican said the report was ‘false’.  

The reports of the supposed agreement to build churches emerged in Egypt Independent.    

The cardinal has visited Saudi Arabia this year and met the royal family, urging the Muslim country to treat its citizens equally.  

Saudi Arabia’s anti-extremism Etidal centre hosted Cardinal Tauran as the crown prince pushes for inter-religious exchange in the ultra-conservative Sunni kingdom.

There are no Christian churches in Saudi Arabia, the only country in the region without one.  

Go here to read the rest.  Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has emerged as a reformer in Saudi Arabia, by Saudi standards a wild eyed radical, who wants to open up the country to more contacts with the West.  The story about the Saudi government agreeing to allow the building of churches was no doubt planted by an enemy of the regime.  However, the Saudi government has been trying to establish better relations with Christian leaders internationally, and the treatment of Christians in Saudi Arabia has long been a major concern of the Vatican.  Stay tuned.


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  1. I visited a charming Anglican church in Alexandria, in Egypt that would not look out of place in the English Home Counties
    The English merchants in Alexandria obtained permission to build it from the Pasha, thanks to the good offices of Admiral Sir Francis Austen GCB, the brother of the novelist, Jane Austen. He was known as “The Praying Admral.”

  2. Gen. Sisi had the Egyptian army rebuild/repair Coptic churches when attacked by Muslim extremists. He stated, ” The army helps ALL Egyptians.” Or words to that effect which was clever. The Holy Family lived in Egypt to escape King Herod and St Mark brought Christianity in 33 AD.
    Egypt was a Christian country until the Muslim Arabs over ran N. Africa.
    Copts maybe 15-28% of the population.
    Despite the recent Vatican- Saudi agreement allowing Christian churches to be built, I doubt the church buildings will look Christian from the exterior as that is forbidden by the religious council. I could be wrong; Saudi women will be allowed to operate motor vehicles come late June.

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