When it comes to marriages, however, the priest is only allowed to celebrate a wedding between two Christians. He said: “If a Christian wants to marry a Muslim, they cannot get married in our church. We usually invite them to marry in another country.”
The Apostolic Vicariate of Northern Arabia estimates that about 200,000 to 300,000 Catholics live in Qatar. All are migrant workers, mainly from the Philippines and India.
According to the vicariate, employment and camp rules can make participation in Catholic liturgies impossible for some of these workers. The Catholic community also struggles with restrictions on the number of priests allowed in the country and the limited capacity of its church inside the religious complex.
Mhanna is currently overseeing the construction of a new Catholic church in Qatar — a Maronite Catholic church that will have a capacity of 1,500 people.
“Qatar provided land on which we can build today a church in the name of St. Charbel. he said.
Cardinal Bechara Boutros Rai, the Maronite Catholic patriarch, laid the foundation stone for the church in 2018 at the invitation of Qatar’s Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani.
“The church is in the process of being finished,” Mhanna said.
Being a priest in the smallest country to ever host the World Cup also comes with some perks. Mhanna was able to attend the opening match of the soccer tournament along with other Christian leaders who minister in the Qatar Religious Complex.
“We sat near the seats designated for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and church representatives were wearing pectoral crosses without any problem,” he said.
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