Vatican Gulf HQ to stay in Kuwait

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Sacred Heart Church in Manama, Bahrain, is the oldest in the Arab Gulf region.

The Vatican Embassy in Kuwait dismissed reports on Monday that it was relocating headquarters from Kuwait to Bahrain to facilitate the organisation of regional meetings of Christians.

The Embassy of the Vatican “is not transferring its present location in Kuwait to another within the Gulf region,” the embassy said in a statement. But for logistical and pastoral reasons, the Apostolic Vicar of Northern Arabia, Messenger Camillo Ballin, the local Bishop in charge of the Catholic Church in Kuwait “will be moving the seat of the local Apostolic Vicariate of Northern Arabia to Manama, Bahrain, while maintaining his residence in Kuwait,”  the embassy statement added which was carried out by Arab Times, a leading Kuwaiti daily.

Messenger Camillo Ballin has been in charge of Bahrain, Qatar and Saudi Arabia since 31 May, 2011.

The Embassy recalled the good ties and mutual relations that exist between the Holy See and the State of Kuwait, the first country in the entire Arabian Gulf region to establish diplomatic relations with the Holy See.

According to Vatican estimates, around two million Catholics live in the Gulf, the vast majority in strictly Muslim Saudi Arabia. Most are immigrant workers from the Philippines, India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.

Between 100,000 and 140,000 Catholics live in Bahrain.

Earlier, regional head of The Vatican announced moving its representation in the Gulf from Kuwait to Bahrain to facilitate the organisation of regional meetings of Christians, citing Bahrain’s easy visa regime compared to Kuwait, which will help in “organising meetings between priests and Catholics from other countries.”

Bishop Camillo Ballin appreciated the decision taken by Bahrain’s government to provide land for the construction of a new church and termed it as an “important gesture to Catholics in the region”.

“This is a sign of openness, important for Bahrain, and I hope it will serve as a model for other countries too,” he said.

Between 100,000 and 140,000 Catholics live in Bahrain.

“This is a sign of openness, important for Bahrain, and I hope it will serve as a model for other countries too,” the bishop added.

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