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Life as head of the world's largest Catholic territory

A fascinating interview with Bishop Paul Hinder, who talks about the unique challenges - and the immense satisfaction - of heading the Apostolic Vicariate of Arabia.

Life as head of the world's largest Catholic territory

Published: March 26, 2012 05:07 AM GMT

Bishop Paul Hinder is a 69-year-old Capuchin prelate from Switzerland. He lives in Abu Dhabi, and as the vicar apostolic of Southern Arabia, is responsible for the largest Catholic territory in the world – one covering some 3 million square kilometers (1.16 square miles), in which there are approximately 2 million Christians. Mark Riedemann for Where God Weeps in cooperation with Aid to the Church in Need spoke with the bishop of the Apostolic Vicariate of Arabia. Q: What countries are we talking about when we’re speaking of the Arab states? Bishop Hinder: These six countries would be the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Qatar. Then there is another Apostolic Vicariate in Kuwait, which is also a part of the Arabian Peninsula. Q; It is often said that there are very few, if any, Christians in these areas. Can you tell us a little bit about the Christian presence in these Arab states? Bishop Hinder: In a sense, it is true that we have no local Christians, but we have many Christians, especially Catholics, migrants from all over the world especially from the Philippines and India. Most of them would be there for a relatively short time although there are quite a lot of people who have been there for 30 to 40 years. All need temporary permits to live there. And of course the public worship is limited. Q: So there is freedom of worship but no freedom of religion? Bishop Hinder: The freedom of religion in the sense of the human right is not given, at least not fully given because there is no question that a Muslim citizen could become a Catholic, Christian, or change, in any way, his religion. Full Story:THE CHURCH IN ARABIA: I SAW PEOPLE CRYING TEARS OF JOYSource:Zenit.org


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