Change is possibly coming in Saudi Arabia. I obtained this part of an article from www.danielpipes.org (3/18/08)
"For some years now, the Vatican has made reciprocity the key to its relations with Muslim-majority states. For example, Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, the Vatican equivalent of foreign minister, commented in 2003 that "There are too many majority Muslim countries where non-Muslims are second-class citizens" and pushed for reciprocity: "Just as Muslims can build their houses of prayer anywhere in the world, the faithful of other religions should be able to do so as well." That sounded good, but does anyone actually expect churches to be built in Saudi Arabia, the country that most severely represses non-Islamic religious expression?
Yes, come the surprise announcements. Archbishop Paul-Mounged El-Hashem, the papal nuncio to Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, and Yemen, says that "Discussions are under way to allow the construction of churches in the kingdom. … There are around three or four million Christians in Saudi Arabia, and we hope they will have churches." Father Federico Lombardi, the pope's spokesman, adds: "If we manage to obtain authorisation for the construction of the first church, it will be an outcome of historic dimensions."
If this becomes fact, this IS a major shift. Saudi Arabia is the birthplace of Islam. Change here will resonate throughout the Muslim world. However, cultural change is very slow. It takes a minimum of 3 generations. In other worlds, even if this takes root, it will be decades before commonplace acceptance will be the norm.
Even though this will take a very long time, this is a very encouraging step.