For the first time in history, churches could emerge in Saudi Arabia. According to the Egyptian media, the kingdom and the Vatican have reached an agreement to build churches for Christians living in the officially Muslim nation.
According to the US website, Breitbart, the agreement was signed by Sheikh Mohammed Ben Abdel Karim Al-Issa, secretary-general of the Islamic League, and Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue at the Vatican.
Breitbart, quoting the Egypt Independent newspaper, reports that Saudi Arabia’s openness and socio-cultural cooperation with the non-Muslim world is the result of its desire to reduce its dependence on oil resources, its main economic engine. In accordance with the agreement, a joint co-ordinating committee will be established, composed of two representatives of both parties to organize future meetings. This committee should meet once every two years and meetings should be held in Rome as well as in a city chosen by the Islamic League.
The reports also indicate that Saudi Arabia is the only country in the region without a church. The country has also adopted Islamic Wahhabism, which prohibits all forms of non-Muslim religious activities.
Cardinal Tauran, in an interview with Vatican News, confirmed that an agreement had been signed.