Saudi Arabia has licensed the construction of a church for the very first time, according to MidEast Christian News.
MCN reports that a Coptic Church is to be built in the country, after successful negotiations between Egypt’s Coptic leader Pope Tawadros II and the Saudi ambassador in Cairo.
However, the Coptic Orthodox Church in the UK told World Watch Monitor the matter was never discussed, and released a formal disclaimer.
While there are thought to be more than one million Christians in Saudi Arabia, including Copts from Egypt and migrant workers from Southeast Asia, the country’s strict Wahhabi version of Sunni Islam has ensured that mosques represent the country’s sole place of worship. For expatriate Christians even to meet in private homes as a group of believers is forbidden. It is understood there are also Saudi Christian believers in every major city.
This is not the first time that the construction of churches in Saudi Arabia has been mooted. Six years ago, Pope Benedict XVI was reported to have personally appealed to King Abdullah for the creation of Catholic churches there.