In an effort to discover what it truly means to be part of One “catholic” Faith, I have been doing some research about the universality of the Church. I wanted to find out how many sovereign nations have a “Catholic presence” – which I defined as consisting of a faith community, regular Sunday Mass schedule, and some form of hierarchy (bishop, superior, etc.). To put it simply, in how many nations can you celebrate Mass publicly (meaning in a church-setting) and profess the Catholic faith?
The results of my very cursory, Google-based research yielded only three countries where a “Catholic presence” is not found: Bhutan, the Maldives, and Saudi Arabia.
In each of these nations, Christianity is prohibited to a degree by the government.
In Bhutan there is a small Catholic community, but the government recently denied them the right to worship publicly (i.e. the Mass). However, this hasn’t stop one priest from sneaking into the country to privately celebrate Mass every Christmas Eve under the pretense of his birthday celebration, which conveniently falls on December 24th. Nevertheless, regular public Catholic Mass is unheard of.
In the Maldives, public practice of the Christian faith is also strictly prohibited, making regular Catholic Mass impossible. Although the nation is part of the Sri Lankan Archdiocese of Colombo, Catholicism as a religion is publicly nonexistent.
Saudi Arabia is the worst of the three, with Christianity illegal under the pretense of “apostasy”; there is no public Catholic community.
Though the situation in these three nations is quite dreary, my quick research as a whole was positive: there is a distinct “Catholic presence” almost everywhere in the world.
I have posted this here to ask all of you to review what I have found and add any information or personal experiences you may have.
I am sure I have missed something somewhere along the lines.
Let me know what you make of this, and let us pray that the leaderships of these three nations may one day come to their senses!