Dubai (Agenzia Fides) – Consecration of a new Church, dedicated to St. Anthony of Padua in Ras Al Khaimah, on the outskirts of Dubai by His Emminence Cardinal Fernando Filoni, Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, in a visit to the United Arab Emirates. During the visit, which begins today, 11 June, until June 15, the Cardinal will meet the Apostolic Nuncio, His Exc. Mgr. Peter Rajic, Bishop Paul Hinder, as well as priests, religious and faithful who live in the Vicariate of South Arabia, bringing the pastoral solicitude and blessing of Pope Francis. On June 12, the Cardinal will visit the Great Mosque "Sheikh Zayed" in Abu Dhabi and the St. Joseph's School, a point of excellence of the work of education carried out by the Catholic Church. The next day he will meet the Comboni Sisters and religious who carry out the pastoral service in the Vicariate, and on June 14 the solemn celebration of the consecration of the new church.
"Cardinal Filoni’s visit and the consecration of a new church is a very important event for our local Church, made up of all foreign faithful, especially Asians, often humble workers, but with a deep faith": with these words Bishop Paul Hinder, Apostolic Vicar of South Arabia expresses to Fides Agency his joy and satisfaction for the event. The Bishop says that "the ground for the new church was made available for free by the Emir for the various Christian communities. The Vicariate, in the last two years, built the structure, thanks to the solidarity of the faithful from all over the world."
On an island of land on the outskirts of Dubai, there is a sort of "ecclesiastic neighborhood " which includes churches and buildings of different Christian denominations, such as Catholics, Copts, Anglicans, Seventh-day Adventists. The new Catholic Church of St. Anthony includes a large pastoral center that can accommodate over a thousand people for meetings and pastoral activities of young or adult believers.
With the construction and the official consecration of the new church, the number of Catholic places of worship in the seven states of the federation of the Emirates rises to eight. The Vicariate of South Arabia includes about 2.5 million Catholics of more than 90 nationalities, especially Asian, mainly from the Philippines, India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Pakistan. Diplomatic relations between the Holy See and the United Arab Emirates were established in 2007. (PA) (Agenzia Fides 11/06/2013)