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2014-03-01

ASIA/UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - Dubai has a parish with 400,000 faithful

Dubai (Agenzia Fides) – The largest Catholic parish community in the world may be in Dubai. Some 400,000 Catholic faithful are registered in the area assigned to the parish of Santa Maria, in the most populous city of the United Arab Emirates. The church building can accommodate 1,700 people, too few for the multitude of church goers who attend Mass also on weekdays. Participation is guaranteed thanks to loudspeakers and large screens positioned in the square in front of the church. On liturgical solemnities as many as 20,000 worshippers crowd into the space.
The greater part of the Catholics in Dubai are immigrant workers from India and from the Philippines. In fact 85% of the population of the Emirate of Dubai consists of foreigners. In the entire territory of the United Arab Emirates there are 7 parishes. For many immigrants – the aid organisation of Pontifical Right "Aid to the Church in Need" told Bishop Paul Hinder, Vicar apostolic of Southern Arabia - “the local church is a second home. As a result, in the handful of parishes that we have here, parish premises are real meeting places, both spiritual and human”. (GV) (Agenzia Fides 1/3/2014).

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