Qatar Hosts its First Christian Church

March 14, 2008

Author: Sonia Verma

Source: The Times

The first Christian church in Qatar has no cross, no bell and no steeple. And when five thousand faithful descend on Our Lady of the Rosary this morning to celebrate its historic consecration they pray that no one will notice. “The idea is to be discreet because we don’t want to inflame any sensitivities. There isn’t even a signboard outside the church,” Father Tom Veneracion, the parish priest, said.

For Qatar’s fledgeling Roman Catholic community, the sweeping £7.5 million saucer-shaped building, a 15-minute drive into the desert, is considered a victory, built with the blessing of the current Emir. Cardinal Ivan Dias, the Vatican envoy, is flying in to attend its inauguration along with officials from the Qatari Government.

Critics in the Wahhabi Muslim country have branded it an offence, with one prominent politician calling for a national referendum to determine its fate.