In which countries is Mass not celebrated?

Hi everyone,

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!

I look forward to the day that the magnificent mosques of those countries will be converted into magnificent churches, that they will deepen their love for God/Allah by recognizing that He is a Trinity and salvation comes through His Son, Jesus.

North Korea?

Catholicism is illegal in China.

Not exactly. There is a state-promoted Catholic Church which has some legitimate Cathoilc priests and some state-appointed ones. There is also a large underground Catholic community that even has a network of underground Catholic bishops. This version of the Catholic Church is the one run by the Vatican, and it is persecuted. From what I understand, the state-sponsored church is a bit like the SSPX, in that they have a highly irregular status, but you could technically fulfill your Sunday obligation there. Please feel free to correct me if I’m wrong.

According to Wikipedia there are about a million Catholics in Saudi Arabia, mainly Filipinos and Indians. So probably quite a lot of people are celebrating mass somewhere, in secret.

You need a priest to celebrate mass, they would most likely hold prayer meetings instead. Saudi laws are very severe, a priest of any religion other than islam would not be allowed into the country.

During the gulf war, American soldiers stationed in Saudi Arabia weren"t sllowed to celebrate mass.

There is most likely an underground and highly secretive Catholic Church in Saudi Arabia. It is known that occasionally the pope names bishops in regions that are so dangerous that their names are withheld from publication and general knowledge.

Thats a possibility, in some of these countries, it is a serious crime to celebrate mass. or anything christian.

Look here:

I heard Tariq Aziz, one of Iraq’s minister, himself a Catholic, allowed Catholic Masses but I’m not sure what the status was during the Gulf War.

Apparently there is a very secret underground church in North Korea. If they do have someone there named bishop, I’m sure the Holy Father would keep that a total secret.

And, according to Wikipedia, there are at least some Catholics in every country in the world. Huh? Who knows?

The Mass is celebrated in the Philippine Embassy. At least it is technically on foreign soil.

He’s Chaldean Catholic, not Roman Catholic. If there is a Liturgy he would allow to be celebrated, its the Holy Qurbana. I don’t think Christianity is illegal in Iraq, though given they are a very small minority and the level of unrest in the country, they are heavily persecuted.

Although Christians can be the target of attacks, Christianity is practiced openly in Iraq, by Chaldeans and Roman Catholics alike. I don’t believe that the government of Iraq differentiates in any way.

A good friend of mine is a catholic preist in the USMC. He said mass while in Saudi Arabia during the Gulf war.

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