New Apostolic Vicar for Arabia Appointed

Swiss-born Bishop Paul Hinder

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VATICAN CITY, MARCH 21, 2005 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II appointed Auxiliary Bishop Paul Hinder of the Apostolic Vicariate of Arabia as its new apostolic vicar.



Bishop Hinder, 62, is replacing Bishop Giovanni Gremoli, 78, a fellow Capuchin, who resigned from the vicariate's pastoral governance for reasons of age.

The former was ordained bishop in January 2004. Previously the Swiss-born cleric was definitor general of the Capuchin Franciscans.

The Apostolic Vicariate of Arabia, entrusted to the pastoral care of the Capuchins, was instituted in 1889 and is the largest ecclesiastical circumscription in the world.

It comprises the Arabian Peninsula. It covers a surface of 3.14 million square kilometers and comprises six nations: Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Qatar and Yemen.

It has 42.2 million inhabitants, including 1.4 million Catholics, mostly immigrants.

In 2004, the vicariate had 40 priests (24 Capuchins, five Salesians, two Carmelites and nine members of the regular clergy) three permanent deacons, and 68 women religious. There were 21 parishes.

The sisters take care of the handicapped, and run homes for orphans and the elderly, as well as six schools with more than 12,000 pupils, 60% of them Muslims.

Bishop Hinder's see is in Abu Dhabi, in the United Arab Emirates.