Saudi Arabia could see a future papal visit, religious figures told local daily Arab News on Sunday, as Pope Francis arrived in the UAE in a landmark visit to the GCC region.
During his visit to the UAE, the Pope will be taking part in an interfaith meeting and will also conduct a mass which is anticipated to attract around 135,000 Catholics.
“We consider it a global model, so it can be adopted and implemented elsewhere,” Sultan Faisal Al-Remeithi, secretary-general of the Muslim Council of Elders told the paper, apparently referencing the interfaith meeting.
The Catholic Apostolic Vicar of Northern Arabia, Bishop Camillo Ballin, told the paper he hoped for a visit from the Pope in the future. “There are many Catholics in Northern Arabia,” he said.
Saudi Arabia does not permit the practice of religions other than Islam in the country. The kingdom does not have any churches.
In April last year, Saudi Arabia’s King Salman received in Riyadh the chairman of the Pontifical Council for Interfaith Dialogue at the Vatican, Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran.
He was hosted by Riyadh-based Global Center for Combating Extremist Ideology, or Etidal. The centre was established in 2017 as the co-operative effort of more than 55 countries.
In November 2017, the head of Lebanon’s Maronite church, Beshara Rai, also met with King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in a historic visit to Riyadh.