Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Will they or won’t they?

Melancholicus rather thinks they won’t. But who knows? After all, stranger things have happened. Allegedly.

From Catholic World News:

Saudis again weigh building Catholic church

Riyadh, May. 12, 2008 (CWNews.com) - The Vatican has renewed talks with Saudi Arabian leaders about the possible construction of a Catholic church in that country, Vatican Radio reports.

Vatican officials have confirmed that in November 2007, when King Abdullah became the first reigning Saudi monarch to visit the Vatican, he was pressed by Pope Benedict about the possibility of allowing a parish for the estimated 800,000 Catholics -- mostly foreign laborers -- who now live in Saudi Arabia. Although Saudi law does not allow public worship for followers of any faith other than Islam, King Abdullah reportedly signaled his willingness to consider building a Catholic parish church.

In March an influential Saudi leader -- the president of the Middle East Center for Strategic Studies, Anwatr al Oshqi -- announced that the government had decided against proceeding with plans for a Catholic church. That announcement was unofficial, but because it was broadcast by a television station controlled by the Saudi royal family, it was widely interpreted as an authoritative signal that the matter was closed. But Vatican Radio now reports that the conversations continue several weeks later.

How does one say “we’ll let you know” in Arabic?

There is no way that Saudi Arabia — the home of Wahhabi extremism — will ever permit the construction of a Catholic church within the borders of the same country which contains the centre of the universe. When all is said and done, no outward expression of any religion other than Mohammedanism is permitted in that country. There are no churches. Christians are forbidden to gather for common prayer, even in private homes. The importing of Bibles, missals, and prayer books of any description is outlawed. It is unlawful to use a rosary, or to have one in one’s possession. One may not wear a cross, crucifix, miraculous medal, scapular or anything of that nature in Saudi Arabia. The Islamist ethos of that country is all pervasive, and non-Muslims cannot help but know their place in such a society.

However, if God wills that a church to His honour and glory be constructed in that unbelieving land, so shall it be. It will probably be a humble edifice, devoid of steeple, cross, bells and the like — and probably devoid of windows also — and who knows how long it will last before being firebombed or blasted to smithereens by jihadi fanatics?

We await the outcome of this one. But Melancholicus will not be holding his breath.

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