Archbishop Hinder: Amid Covid-19, priority given to safeguarding Christians of Arabia

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Archbishop Hinder: Amid Covid-19, priority given to safeguarding Christians of Arabia

asianews.it

In a critical context due to the economic crisis and the new coronavirus pandemic, it is "important to preserve the links between Christian communities,” notes Msgr. Paul Hinder, apostolic vicar of southern Arabia (United Arab Emirates, Oman and Yemen), recently appointed apostolic administrator vacant seat of northern Arabia (Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Bahrain).

The assignment was entrusted to him due to him following the death after a long illness of Msgr. Camillo Ballin, in mid-April at the age of 76.

These communities are migrant workers "who come from all over the world", so it is a priority "to maintain their unity also and above all on a spiritual level" as has been done "by my predecessor and I want to continue this journey".

“I do not intend to bring any innovations - says the prelate of Swiss origins - but I will continue the work begun by Msgr. Ballin, starting from the completion of the construction of the cathedral in Bahrain ”. Then there are "several legal and administrative issues to be explored, but it is a job that will be developed in the coming weeks after speaking with the resident collaborators". He adds that meeting with them, "will be crucial even if at the moment this is only possible at a distance, because at least for the next two months I will not be able to travel because of the Covid-19 emergency".

Until 2011 Msgr. Hinder was in charge of pastoral care of Bahrain, Qatar and Kuwait, an assignment abandoned with the creation of the vicariate of northern Arabia entrusted to the care of Msgr. Ballin. Saudi Arabia was also added to the original territory, with which the bishop of Venetian origin had created good relations having visited it several times over the years.

"Since I left office - continues Msgr. Hinder - these territories have almost completely changed. The North, compared to the South, is more politically complicated and travel is also more difficult, given that it is not possible to go directly to Qatar "due to the tensions that have been going on for years in the area. Then there is the Wahhabi kingdom, which "is a reality in itself".

Despite being "similar in many respects", the reality of the Gulf offers some "specificities" for the individual countries that comprise it: "Saudi Arabia is different from Kuwait, Bahrain is different from Qatar and this complicates pastoral care, especially in this historical moment in which it is so difficult to travel. I will use the means of technology available, from Zoom to Skype, to emails to connect with the local clergy. Before August - he underlines - I think that it will not be possible to travel and go personally to the place ".

Among the priorities there is also "moral and material support for Christians in the area, the vast majority of economic migrants who risk having to return to their countries of origin. When the travel prohibitions have eased, I intend to visit the different communities, make my presence felt and pastoral care in an area that remains vast ". Moreover, thanks to the work of Pope Francis "there is now a consolidated relationship with the Muslim leaders of the area ... the seed has been sown and it is now a matter of cultivating it".

Msgr Ballin, explains the vicar of Arabia, "has done important work in Saudi Arabia, he was able to visit the nation and familiarize himself with its reality thanks to the passport granted to him by the king of Bahrain. By the end of the year, I would like to finish the work on the cathedral, a very dear project for him. However, the greatest efforts will go in the direction of safeguarding the Christian community, because there is a strong fear of a hemorrhaging of faithful due to the economic crisis. We must stay close to them, help them and make our presence felt as a Church ”.

Finally, Msgr. Hinder addresses a conclusive thought to a nation of the southern vicariate dear to him, Yemen, battered by the war, from health emergencies, the latest of which linked to the new coronavirus pandemic. “I renew my great concern for Yemen - concludes the prelate - which remains an open wound. With the Covid-19 pandemic, the suffering of the people is growing. The circulation of the virus was hidden for too long, it has spread silently and now you can see the results in all their drama ".

Fri, 06/05/2020 - 09:27
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