No More Churches in Kuwait?

by Jonathon Luxmore

OXFORD, England (CNS) – The bishop who administers the church in Kuwait criticized legislation that would restrict Christian places of worship in the country.
“There’ll be problems if the government adopts this proposal; it’s out of step with the traditions of Kuwait, which seeks to be an open, tolerant country welcoming other religions besides Islam,” said Italian-born Bishop Camillo Ballin, apostolic administrator of Kuwait.
Such proposals come “from ideologies which want to divide the world between Muslims and non-Muslims,” he told Catholic News Service March 12.
In February, the newly formed al-Adala (Justice) Bloc introduced legislation to remove Christian churches from Kuwait and impose Islamic law, or Shariah. Party officials said later the legislation would not remove the churches but prohibit further construction of Christian churches and non-Muslim places of worship in the country. It also introduces Islam-inspired measures to fight corruption and “strengthen national unity.”
Bishop Ballin told CNS that al-Adala’s claims that there were more churches in Kuwait than needed by its Christian minority were untrue and took account only of the small number of Christians who were ethnic Kuwaitis. He said the church needs at least 36,000 square yards of additional space to accommodate practicing Catholics.
“When religious life is assured, social life is also easier – so why can’t our foreign members have a place for worship?” the bishop asked.
“We want to collaborate with the government to make an ever-better society in Kuwait.”