Christianity in Qatar
|Christianity by country|
The Christian community in Qatar is a diverse mix of European, North and South American, Asian, Middle Eastern and African expatriates. They form around 13.8% of the total population (2010). No foreign missionary groups operate openly in the country. There are no local Christians in Qatar; all Christians are foreign expatriates.
Many of the inhabitants of Qatar were introduced to Christianity after the religion was dispersed eastward by Mesopotamian Christians from 224 AD onwards. Monasteries were constructed in Qatar during this era. During the latter part of the Christian era, Qatar was known by the Syriac name 'Beth Qatraye'. A variant of this was 'Beth Catara'. The name translates to 'region of the Qataris'. The region was not limited to Qatar; it also included Bahrain, Tarout Island, Al-Khatt, and Al-Hasa. In 628, most of the Arab tribes converted to Islam.
It is likely that some settled populations in Qatar did not immediately convert to Islam. Isaac of Nineveh, a 7th-century Syriac Christian bishop regarded as a saint in some churches, was born in Qatar. Other notable Christian scholars dating to this period who hailed from the Qatari Peninsula include Dadisho Qatraya, Gabriel of Qatar and Ahob of Qatar. In 674, the bishops of Beth Qatraye stopped attending synods; although the practice of Christianity persisted in the region until the late 9th century.
Religious Complex, Doha
In May 2005, representatives of Christian churches in Qatar signed an agreement with the Qatari Government for a fifty-year lease on a large piece of property on the outskirts of Doha on which they intended to erect six churches at their own expense. The churches were expected to pay nominal lease fees of a few hundred dollars a year, renewable after ten years. The property was expected to include an Anglican church that may also be used by other Protestant denominations, a church to serve thirty four Indian-Christian congregations, a church for the country's small but influential Coptic community, and a site for two Orthodox churches, one Greek and one Eastern Rite. In December 2005, the foundation stone for the Catholic Church was laid and the ground-breaking took place at the end of April 2006. A board composed of members of all the Christian churches liaises directly with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs regarding church matters. Each church has been granted permission to apply for visas for visiting clerics to preside over and assist in church services. Previously, Catholics and other Christians were limited to informal group meetings in homes.
The Anglican Church of the Epiphany, was officially opened on 21 September 2013 and consecrated on 28 September 2013. The church sanctuary can accommodate up to 650 worshipers. The Anglican Centre, managed by the Anglican Church in Qatar, accommodates 59 additional Evangelical, Pentecostal and Protestant congregations.
The St Issac and St George Greek Orthodox Church serves the orthodox communities numbering about 10,000 people from the Middle East, Asia, Syria and Africa.
Among the denominations mentioned in World Christian Encyclopedia, second edition, Volume 1, p. 617-618 are Mar Thoma Syrian Church (India), Arab Evangelical Church, Christian Brethren, Pentecostals and Anglican Church.
The Coptic minority in Qatar is substantial. There are about 200,000 Roman Catholics, who are under the jurisdiction of the Apostolic Vicariate of Arabia. Qatar's Anglican population is estimated at 7,000 to 10,000 persons. In 2008 the first church in 14 centuries, Catholic Church of Our Lady of the Rosary, was opened in Doha.
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