Panta Rei... The world is in flux. If Saudi Arabia allows churches on its soil, all things are possible! Will the praises of the Tri-une God and the Lord Jesus Christ soon be publicly sung in Islam's holiest land?
Archbishop Paul-Mounged El-Hachem, the papal envoy to some countries on the Arabian peninsula like Kuwait and Qatar, confirms that talks are under way to establish formal diplomatic relations between the Vatican and Saudi Arabia, and to eventually allow for Catholic churches to be built there. Pope Benedict XVI is believed to have personally appealed to King Abdullah on the topic during the Saudi monarch's first ever visit to the Vatican in November 2007.
Top Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said that a Catholic parish in this key Islamic country would be "a historic achievement" in the push to expand religious freedom and foster a positive interfaith rapport. Under Benedict, the Catholic hierarchy has stepped up calls from its Muslim counterparts for "reciprocity," demanding that the same religious freedom enjoyed by Muslims in the West should be granted to Christian minorities in the Islamic world. They note that Europe's biggest mosque, built with Saudi funds, was opened in 1995 in Rome, just across the river from the Vatican.More in the Guardian of 18 March 2008