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Outgoing Apostolic vicar of Southern Arabia publishes his last pastoral letter

Bishop Paul Hinder, the apostolic vicar of Southern Arabia (Photo supplied)

Bishop Paul Hinder, the apostolic vicar of Southern Arabia, published his last pastoral letter on June 3.

After serving 18 years, Hinder, a member of the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin O.F.M Cap, expressed his joy in serving the migrant church in Arabian Peninsula. 

“During the last eighteen years, I have witnessed a lot of joy in our Church. We are migrants, almost all of us, without having greater rights, and no great security for our stay in this part of the world. Yet despite some struggles, we have joy in our faith, and peace in this multi-cultural, multi-lingual Church,” he said. 

The prelate mentioned the difficulties such as the murder of four Missionaries of Charity and their eight companions in Aden, in March 2016, and also Indian Salesian Father Tom Uzhunnalil was kidnapped on that day. 

Despite these difficulties in the multi-national and multi-ritual Church in the Gulf, the Capuchin Bishop enjoyed his pastoral works together with his collaborators with the remark of “a memorable one” in his heart.

He expressed his gratitude, “I remember with gratitude all the priests, religious sisters, and brothers, who came here as missionaries to serve the pastoral needs of the migrant Catholic Church.”

He narrated the situation that there were more than 40 priests in six countries (UAE, Oman, Yemen, Qatar, Bahrain, and Saudi Arabia) of the Vicariate of Arabia when he arrived in January 2004. 

Now, there are two vicariates; Northern Arabia (Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia) and Southern Arabia (United Arab Emirates [UAE], Oman, and Yemen) in the Arabian Gulf, and 70 priests in southern Arabia alone. 

He appreciated the commitment of different capacities possessed by Catholics by mentioning a bishop’s incapability of going anywhere and doing everything, as well as the parish priests and their associate priests. 

“I thank all of you for your assistance in my mission in the Vicariate and shall continue to pray joyfully for you.”

The episcopal motto of Bishop Hinder is “Justice, Peace, and Joy.”

“If true justice is practiced in every sphere of life, we can be sure of having peace around us,” the prelate said. “Peace and justice are inseparable!"

Bishop Paul was born in Switzerland, on April 22, 1942. He joined the Franciscan Capuchin Order in 1962. He became a priest on July 4, 1967. He was ordained Bishop on January 30, 2004, in Abu Dhabi as auxiliary Bishop of Arabia. 

He succeeded Msgr. Bernardo Gremoli as Vicar Apostolic of Arabia. After dividing Northern and Southern Arabia Vicariates in 2011, Bishop Paul was appointed as the Apostolic Vicar of Southern Arabia. Pope Francis accepted his resignation on May 1, 2022.

Bishop Paul encouraged the Catholics in Southern Arabia to pray for his successor, the new Bishop Paolo Martinelli, OFM Cap

“I ask you to honor and obey your new Shepherd as you would do the apostles, as he is sent by God Himself. Pray for him every day and support him in his mission with the same love that I experienced from you for the last eighteen years,” Hinder said. 

Bishop Martinelli is a good Capuchin Friar and a great professor. He was ordained bishop in the Cathedral in Milan on 28 June 2014. Since then, he was serving as the Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Milan and was appointed as the Apostolic Vicar of Southern Arabia on May 2, 2022.

The apostolic vicariate of Southern Arabia is composed of UAE, Oman, and Yemen. These countries are Islamic countries and the majority of the population belongs to Islam. Catholics are the minority and most of them are expatriates.

According to dubaiofw.com, there are about one million Catholics in the UAE from India, Sri Lanka, the Philippines, Africa, South America, and other parts of Europe. There is about 10.12 million population in UAE as of 2022 according to worldometers.info.

According to omanofw.com, there are about 55,000 Catholics in Oman and most of them are immigrant workers. The population of Oman is about 5.37 million as of 2022 according to worldometers.info.

According to familysearch.org, there are about 4000 Catholics in Yemen in 2008 and most of them are expatriates. There is about 31.1 million population in Yemen as of 2022 according to worldometers.info. - Patrick Soe Htun

 

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