Roman Catholicism in Saudi Arabia

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Catholicism in Saudi Arabia is officially barred from being practiced, though Roman Catholics are allowed into the country for temporary work. There is a large expatriate Filipino community in Saudi Arabia, many of whom are thought to be Catholics. There are no dioceses in Saudi Arabia, which comes under the jurisdiction of the Apostolic Vicariate of Northern Arabia.

Saudi Arabia allows Catholics and Christians of other denominations to enter the country as foreign workers for temporary work, but does not allow them to practise their faith openly, and as a result Catholics and Christians of other denominations generally only worship in secret within private homes.[1] Items and articles belonging to religions other than Islam are prohibited.[2] These include Bibles, crucifixes, statues, carvings, items with religious symbols, and others, although the Government's stated policy was that such items were allowed for private religious purposes.

The Saudi Arabian Mutaween (Arabic: مطوعين), or Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice prohibits the practice of any religion other than Islam.[3] Conversion of a Muslim to another religion is considered apostasy, that leads to death penalty. The Government does not permit non-Muslim clergy to enter the country for the purpose of conducting religious services.[4] However, there are cases in which a Muslim will adopt the Catholic Christian faith, secretly declaring his/her apostasy. In effect, they are practising Catholics, but legally Muslims; thus, the statistics of Saudi Arabian Catholics does not include Muslim apostates to Catholic Christianity.

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