Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz al Saud has recently brought about a lot of radical changes within the oil-rich nation and he apparently doesn’t plan to stop anytime soon. The Crown Prince, who also serves as the First Deputy Prime Minister, President of the Council for Economic and Development Affairs, and Defense Minister, has reportedly signed a historic agreement with the Vatican. The agreement basically allows the construction of Christian churches within the kingdom, which a big step forward in promoting religious freedom within the country.

Rapid modernization

According to a report from Al Jazeera, the Prince’s latest move is part of his promise to drastically modernize the country for it to catch up to the rest of the world. The move is apparently also part of the Prince’s proposed Saudi 2030 vision, which is a plan to enact radical economic, religious, and social changes within the kingdom. The 32-year-old monarch also plans to rid the country of the corruption that has so far been very prevalent within the royal family, its business partners, and local government officials.

Religious freedom

Prior to the signing of the agreement, the construction of any kind of church within the Islamic nation was considered illegal. The Crown Prince is likely aware that religious freedom is an important matter to resolve if he wishes for Saudi Arabia to become a progressive nation.

The country currently has an estimated 1.5 to two million Christians living within its borders. With the signing of the contract, Christian residents may soon be able to worship openly inside their own churches without fears of discrimination or legal repercussions.

Religious tolerance

According to MSN, the agreement was reportedly finalized when Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran visited Saudi Arabia in April to talk with the Secretary-General of the Muslim World League, Mohammed bin Abdel Karim Al-Issa.

The President of the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue visited the country to discuss the issues facing the world’s different religions and to spread the adoption of religious tolerance. In an article published in the Jerusalem Post, Cardinal Tauran explained that ignorance is one of the biggest dangers facing all religions.

He also reiterated that countries must not discriminate or consider people of other religions as second-class citizens.

Update: As of this writing, the Vatican and the Saudi Arabian government have not yet released any official statements to confirm that an agreement was indeed reached.