It sounded too good to be true, and maybe it was. After our story last Friday about the Saudi government striking a deal to build Christian churches, the Vatican is denying that any agreement was made. Reports of the historic pact started in the Egyptian press and soon spread to the West, but church officials now say they’re untrue:
The Vatican has denied making a deal with Saudi Arabia to build churches for Christian worshippers in the Arab country.
Reports in Middle Eastern media claimed a historic agreement had been made between Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran and Mohammed bin Abdel Karim Al-Issa of the Muslim World League.
But a spokesperson for the Vatican said the report was ‘false’.
Cardinal Tauren did meet with the Saudi royal family and made his case for treating religious minorities equally. And while Western leaders have been trying to break through on this issue, more work will need to be done.
It seemed plausible, given my own meetings in Egypt and the moderate tone that el Sisi and his administration had taken, that momentum was building for more religious liberty in the area. Hopefully, the news was just premature and an agreement to let Christians worship freely in Saudi Arabia will someday be reality. Until then, we continue to pray for the people like Nawal, who long to live out their faith openly. If you’d like to help minister to her or others, visit Open Doors USA for ways you can get involved.
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