Vatican in talks with Saudis to open Catholic churches in the Kingdom?

So many mixed emotions: (1) “Great!” (2) “I’ll believe it when I see it.” (3) “Wear kevlar.” It’s the byproduct of Benedict’s Nixon-in-China liaising with King Abdullah last year plus the royals’ scrambling to check the internal jihadist threat to their own power through modernization, in ways very public and not so public. Needless to say, introducing churches would qualify as very public:

Secret negotiations are taking place between the Vatican and Saudi Arabia to allow Christian churches in the strictly Muslim country, reports the Italian daily, La Stampa.

The Vatican is negotiating with Saudi Arabia for “authorisation to build Catholic churches,” says archbishop Mounged El-Hachem, papal nuncio of Kuwait, Qatar, Yemen, Bahrein and the United Arab Emirates.

According to La Stampa, the secret talks, favoured by Saudi King Abdullah, have been taking place for several weeks and are considered an unprecedented for the Catholic church…

The Italian newspaper claimed on Monday that up to 900,000 Catholics live in Saudi Arabia, all of them expatriate workers.

Exit question one: Does this mean Bibles will be legal in the Kingdom, or is that simply far too dangerous a reform? Exit question two: What’s the connection between this and the church that just opened in Qatar? I wonder if Benedict pressed to have that one built first knowing there’d be less resistance, so that he could wave it at the Saudis as a precedent.