Saudi Arabia Signs Deal with Vatican to Build Churches

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Saudi Arabia Signs Deal with Vatican to Build Churches

Saudi Arabia has signed an agreement with the Vatican to build churches for Christian citizens, according to Egyptian news media reports.

Online newspaper Egypt Independent on Wednesday said the agreement was signed during a visit by Jean-Louis Tauran, head of the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue at the Vatican, during his visit to the kingdom in April.

In an interview with Vatican News, Tauran confirmed a declaration had been signed which paved the way for further dialogue, but did not mention building future churches in Saudi Arabia.

Tauran met high-level officials including King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud on his visit.

Under the agreement, a joint committee with representatives from both parties will also be established to organize future meetings, which will alternate between Rome and a city chosen by the Islamic World League.

"During my meetings, I insisted very much…that Christians and non-Muslims are spoken of well in schools and that they are never considered second-class citizens," Tauran told the Vatican News, adding that he believes Saudi authorities wanted "to show that even in Saudi Arabia there is the possibility of discussion, and therefore of changing the country's image."

Saudi Arabia currently bans the practice of faiths other than Islam.

Source: Al Jazeera