Doha: Qatar’s first church will be completed before next Christmas, Doha’s parish priest told worshippers last night during the traditional Christmas mass.
Addressing more than 2,000 Christian Catholics who flocked to the Doha parish centre, Father Thomas said the liturgy was the last to be performed in the prefabricated building which hosted for many years the religious celebrations of the growing Catholic community.
“This is the last Christmas we celebrate in this parish centre. Next year we will finally celebrate it in the new church,” he said.
Qatar has about 750,000 residents, whose majority are Muslims. According to Vatican’s estimates, there are about 60,000 Christians in the country, including 45,000 Catholics, mainly from the Philippines and India and 7,000 Anglicans. However local sources put the number of Christians at 80,000 owing to the rise in the expatriate population.
The birth of the Catholic mission in Qatar dates back to 1956. Over the past years, the Christian communities have been authorised to meet and celebrate their liturgies in several prefabricated structures, schools and private residences. They never had a proper place of worship.
Last year, officials spoke publicly for the first time of a decision of the Qatari Emir, Shaikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al Thani, to donate to the Christian community a plot of land in Doha’s outskirts.
Mohammad Jahan Al Kawar, Qatari Ambassador to the Vatican, told Gulf News during a religious conference last year that Qatar had granted land to the Christian community to allow them to build new worship centres.