3-March-2008 -- Catholic News Agency |

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First Catholic Church in Arabic Country To Be Dedicated to Mary

Doha, Feb 29, 2008 (CNA).- The first Catholic Church in an Arab Muslim emirate will be dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary, during a ceremony that will be celebrated by Cardinal Ivan Dias, Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples.

On March 14, Cardinal Dias will officiate at the ceremony in Doha, the capital of Qatar. The Apostolic Vicar of Arabia, Archbishop Paul Hinder, will join the cardinal for the dedication of the new church.

The church was built on land donated by Emir Amir Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, who in recent years has become a supporter of inter-religious dialogue, despite keeping Islamic law in place which forbids Muslims to convert to other religions.

Qatar, which has 800,000 inhabitants, established diplomatic relations with the Holy See in 2003. The pastor of the new parish will be a priest from the Philippines, Father Tomasito Veneracion.

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