Iligan diocese mourns death of Northern Arabia’s Bishop Ballin

Iligan diocese mourns death of Northern Arabia’s Bishop Ballin

Bishop Camillo Ballin, the Vicar Apostolic of Nothern Arabia, is pictured with a group of Filipinos in Bahrain in 2012. COURTESY OF AID TO THE CHURCH IN NEED

By CBCP News

April 17, 2020

Manila, Philippines

A Catholic diocese in Mindanao mourned the death of Bishop Camillo Ballin of Northern Arabia, and praised the Italian prelate for his “magnanimous heart”.

In a letter sent to the vicariate, Bishop Jose Rapadas of Iligan offered his condolences for the demise of the “merciful and compassionate” bishop.

“We express our heartfelt condolences and oneness in your sorrow for losing a very good friend and brother in faith,” Rapadas said.

Ballin, who had been suffering from lung cancer and was under treatment in Italy, died on Easter Sunday. He was 75.

The diocese’s relationship with Ballin started after typhoon “Sendong” devastated the cities of Iligan and Cagayan de Oro in 2011.

Ballin, a Comboni missionary and the first apostolic vicar of Northern Arabia, was among those who “generously” sent aid for those who were displaced by the typhoon.

“He then started giving away yearly support to our diocese and had been faithful in it,” according to Rapadas.

The bond also led the Iligan diocese to send a priest to work as a missionary priest in Bahrain.

During Lent, Iligan diocese also send some of its clergy to help in the ministries of the vicariate, which also covers Kuwait, Quatar and Saudi Arabia.

Ballin had visited Iligan diocese thrice. His last was when he attended the episcopal ordination of Rapadas in Ipil, Zamboanga Sibugay in August 2019.

Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) also praised Ballin’s courage after a lifetime of ministry “in some of the most difficult places in which to be a Christian.”

Fr. Andrzej Halemba, Middle East projects coordinator for ACN, said that the prelate wore his cassock and cross even in parts of the Gulf where symbols of Christian faith are not welcome or banned.

“Bishop Ballin never denied his Christianity but at the same time he earned the respect of others by his command of Arabic and his respect for Arabic culture,” he said.