Source: The Washington Post
Wire Service: AP
The Vatican's top cleric in the heart of Muslim Arabia tends to a flock of 2 million Christians spread around six desert nations. But he has to do it quietly: Most of them must still pray in secret and are forbidden to display crosses and other symbols of their faith.
From his base in the emirate of Abu Dhabi on the Persian Gulf, Archbishop Paul Hinder travels the Arabian Peninsula, even slipping in and out of Saudi Arabia - the birthplace of Islam, where restrictions on Christians are the toughest.
"We are tolerated, but not popular here," Hinder said in an interview in the archbishop's living quarters inside a Christian compound in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates.
He spoke wearing the traditional hooded robe of his Capuchin order. The white garb blends in just fine with the Arab robes worn by men in the region, so he wears it in public - but without a cross around his neck or the belt of three knots that also mark the order.
"People here know who I am, although I never wear a cross when I go outside out of respect for local conditions," said Hinter, a Swiss citizen.