The Vatican News website reports that on Easter Sunday, Italian bishop Camillo Ballin, first apostolic vicar of Northern Arabia, passed away. He was appointed to the role by then-pope Benedict XVI, in 2011.
A Combino missionary from Italy’s Veneto region, he had already spent many years in Libya, Syria, Egypt and Sudan when, in 2005, he was named apostolic vicar of Kuwait. Six years later, he was appointed to guide Catholic communities in Bahrain, Qatar and Saudi Arabia. The Vatican News publication remembers his attention not only to minorities, but to individual human beings, who, he believed, as God’s creatures, must be free to live their own human and religious lives according to their desires. The same article includes a Vatican Radio interview conducted with Msgr. Ballin in 2016. In it, the bishop recalled the importance of accepting the other.
He also spoke of the need to step into the shoes of migrants who are forced to flee from desperate situations in an effort to ensure a happy future for themselves and their families. In the same interview, he advocated for moderate Islam, for an adoption of a position blatantly opposed to fundamentalism.