Posted by: Fr Chris | February 22, 2011

A new 1989 continues And Penitential Season Coming

Hello all – Well, as I said before, it looks like 2011 will be the 1989 of the Middle East. Now with Libya going, it is most of the Muslim world that is being affected. Even Syria is facing some tremors.

A perpetual Novena is kept up to Our Lady of Arabia in the Catholic church in Ahmadi, Kuwait

The marvelous statue of Our Lady is a Carmelite one, was enthroned in 1955 and crowned in 1960 by Pope John XXIII.

As far as Christians go, the Church in Libya is entirely expatriate. In the Gulf Region, most Christians are foreign workers (in Saudi  Arabia up to 1.5 million Catholics with not a single church or legal place of prayer), except Bahrain and Kuwait. Both of these countries have native Christians.  Christianity remains strong in Egypt, Syria, and Jordan. All of those countries are about 10% Christian: Orthodox, Catholic, various Protestants who proselytized among  Eastern Christians rather than Muslims, and Protestant immigrants in the Gulf.

From Damascus to the southern Emirates, one can find a mosaic of Christendom.  You will see that these church offer Roman Masses in a variety of languages, from English to Urdu, and rites, and that Friday serves as fulfillment of the Sunday obligation as many Muslim employers are open on Saturday and Sunday since Friday is their prayer day and they expect their Christian workers to come in on time.

Sacred Heart Church in Bahrain serves 140,000 Catholics, and has Masses in a variety of languages and rites for the workers.

Workers range from bank executives to housemaids and street sweepers.  The native Bahraini Church is a mostly Orthodox, descended from immigrants who settled in Bahrain before the oil era, from Jordan-Israel-Iraq-Lebanon-Syria. Kuwait is also home to a small native Christian population of old-time immigrants of twelve extended families, mostly from Jordan and Iraq, who were given Kuwaiti citizenship and now number about 350 souls.

Catholic church life is diverse: Latins from many countries using a host of languages;  Malabar and Malankara from India;  Melkite Greek-Catholic, Chaldean, Maronite, Syriac and Armenian from all over the Middle East. The Eastern and Oriental  Orthodox included the “Roman” Orthodox (this is the Greek church, but still called Roman after the ancient Empire 600 years after its destruction), Copt, Syriac, Armenian; and Assyrian Church of the East. To follow Catholic life in the Gulf area, go to

Vicariate Apostolic of KUWAIT

Vicariate Apostolic of Arabia GULF NATIONS:


Sacred Heart in Bahrain:

Visitation of Our Lady

Kuwait has four Latin parishes, which also offer Eastern Catholic services; see the Kuwaiti website.  For the rest of the Gulf

St Joseph in ABU DHABI

St Mary Church in AL AiIN

St Francis in city of  JEBEL AL, DUBAII

St Mary Church in city of  DUBAI

SS Peter and Paul in city of RUWI, SULTANATE OF  OMAN Thee are four Catholic churches in this country: Ruwi has 15,000 members, and Holy Spirit in Ghala has 10,000 parishioners. The protests in Oman have been peaceful, like Egypt, and supportive of the Sultan, as opposed to Bahrain which is turning against the royal family.

Our Lady of the Rosary Roman Catholic Church in QATAR

St Mary Malankara Catholic Church

To my knowledge, this is the only Eastern Catholic parish in the entire Gulf: everywhere else there are services in multi-use Roman parishes, although there are at least two convents of Chaldean sisters running schools in Dubai and Abu Dhabi.  It provides a nice introduction to the Syriac Rite as used in India and its rich liturgy and history.

FOR THOSE READERS WHO ARE BYZANTINE CATHOLICS: we are in Meat-fare week, and we will be reading the Passion of Christ next week and reciting the Prayer of St Ephrem. Let us pray for our brethren in the Near East, and their safety, and for peaceful revolutions and granting of reforms, and deliverance from dictators not to be replaced by new ones. Our country has aided these dictators to stay in power – we have much to atone for. May the Prince of Peace rule in all hearts!








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