In wake of wide Saudi Arabian cultural and social global openness, for the first time in the country’s history it has signed a cooperative agreement with the Vatican to build churches for Christian citizens to advocate the important role of religions and cultures in renouncing violence, extremism, terrorism and achieving security and stability in the world.
The agreement was signed by the Secretary General of the Muslim World League Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdel Karim Al-Issa and the President of the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue in the Vatican and the French cardinal of the Catholic Church Jean-Louis Tauran to achieve mutual goals between both sides.
The agreement also states that a coordinating joint committee will be established comprising two representatives for both sides to organize future meetings. The committee is expected to be held once every two years and its meetings will be alternated between Rome and a city chosen by the Islamic World League, according to the Saudi Arabian press.
The historic visit also included a meeting with the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia Mohamed Bin Salman in the Saudi capital Riyadh.
Tauran said that he supports equal treatment to all citizens regardless their religion, including those who do not profess any religion; he also called on setting common basis in building worship places, according to “L’osservatore romano”, the Italian newspaper published by the Vatican.
Saudi leaders have courted a flurry of representatives of various Christian traditions in recent months.
In November, the head of Lebanon’s Maronite church, Beshara Rai, met King Salman and powerful Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in a historic visit to Riyadh.
The prince also reportedly met a group of Jewish and Catholic leaders in a recent visit to New York, which highlighted a rare show of interfaith dialogue.
Prince Mohammed, the heir to the Saudi throne, has sought to project a moderate image of his austere kingdom, often associated in the West with jihadist ideology and subjugating women.
The reformist prince has announced the lifting of a ban on women driving and has authorised cinemas for the first time in over three decades as part of his pledge to spread a more moderate version of Islam