The Universal Church: Is There a Catholic Church in Antarctica? A Report




A priest I know once did a stint in Antarctica over Christmas - he said it was the only time he’s ever celebrated midnight mass while wearing sunglasses since the sun doesn’t actually set there at that time of year! Sadly, the regular assignment of Catholic priests to the Antarctic mission ceased a few years back:

There aren’t any people there.
It’s like asking if there’s a Catholic parish on the moon.

Actually, there is always a small number of people on the continent of Antarctica (McMurdo Station, etc.) — they rotate in and out. As the Christchurch diocese’s website points out, though, there are no longer enough practicing Catholics to justify having a mission. I am reading this to say that the Catholics who are stationed there do not practice their faith. That is sad.

I wonder if Catholics stationed there would be able to view the Mass online (live or recorded) and possibly even receive spiritual counseling via Skype and other services.

I read somewhere that the Catholics go to the Orthodox chapel if there is an Orthodox Divine Liturgy. It really depends upon if there is a priest stationed there at the same time.

That would be fine, but the Catholics would not be allowed by the Orthodox to receive sacraments.

I never wrote that the Catholics would receive any of the sacraments. :smile:

In a case like this, I hope the bishop of the Orthodox priest and the bishop of the Catholic person working in Antarctica, could work something out, especially for the Sacrament of Penance.

I didn’t say you did, I was just stating the fact. I don’t know how such situations are handled between Catholic and Orthodox. I may be having a false memory, but I seem to recall a traditionalist Catholic priest (SSPX-affiliated but otherwise independent) saying one time that he and a nearby Coptic Orthodox priest had some kind of arrangement worked out, if there were ever a case when one or the other were not available to their faithful (extreme unction, viaticum, etc.).

Coptics are Oriental Orthodox, not Eastern Orthodox, so that might have something to do with it — AFAIK churches in communion with Constantinople are dead-set against giving sacraments to Catholics.

I think it is the Syrian Orthodox church that has an agreement with the Catholic Church that we can receive some of the Sacraments like Eucharist, Anointing of the Sick and Confession, in each others Liturgies if there is not an Orthodox/Catholic Church within reasonable distance. I know that this is possible in my diocese but I am not sure if it is worldwide. The reason behind the agreement is that the Syrian as well as the other Orthodox have very few parishes that are concentrated to a few major cities while the Catholic parishes are spread over the whole country.

I think it helps a lot if the bishops/church representatives know each other, the different traditions and what the situation is for the Church as a whole in the country/region.

I would love a pilgrimage trip there.

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When you say “Syrian Orthodox”, are you referring to the Oriental Orthodox church by that name (Syriac Orthodox Church of Antioch), or the Greek Orthodox Church of Antioch (commonly called the “Antiochian Orthodox Church” in the US)? Adherents of the latter commonly refer to themselves as “Syrians”.

There are planes flying over the antarctic now, as tourist planes.

There are people who work and live in the Antarctic.

The translation used in Sweden is Syrian Orthodox church and from what I can read on different churches websites (if there is a website) and Christian Council of Sweden, it looks like they are Oriental. The last time I spoke with one of their priests was 20 years ago when he needed help to write an invitation in Swedish.

These are present in Sweden:
Antiochian Greek Orthodox church (Byzantine)
Syrian Orthodox Church
Assyrian Church of the East
Old Church of the East

When people are in such remote areas as the Antarctica, I hope there is some cooperation between the Catholic and Orthodox for the sake of the people.

If I ever win a fortune on the lottary, I would go to Antarctica and have a look at the penguins, especially these ones.

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