Catholic Church in Tunisia

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The Cathedral of St. Vincent de Paul in Tunis is now the only Catholic cathedral in the country.

The Catholic Church in Tunisia is part of the worldwide Catholic Church, under the spiritual leadership of the Pope in Rome.


The Catholic church in Tunisia presently comprises only a single Latin archbishopric, in the national capital Tunis :

There are no Eastern Catholic, pre-diocesan or other exempt jurisdictions in Tunisia.

As this solo-episcopate warrants no national conference, it partakes in the regional Episcopal conference of Northern Africa (French: Conférence Episcopale Régionale du Nord de l’Afrique, C.E.R.N.A.) together with Algeria, Morocco (hosting the headquarters in Rabat), Western Sahara and Libya, the 'Great Maghreb' (Arab region West of Egypt).

There is also an Apostolic Nunciature (papal diplomatic representation at embassy-level) to Tunisia, which is however vested in the Apostolic Nunciature to neighbour Algeria (in Algiers).

All defunct jurisdictions are precursors of current (residential or, mostly, titular) sees.[1]


There are around 30,700 Catholics in this predominantly Islamic country, which forms a single diocese – the Archdiocese of Tunis. Accordingly, the only Catholic cathedral is that of St. Vincent de Paul in Tunis. The building was completed in 1897, while Tunisia was a French protectorate. Catholic influence during the colonial period also included extensive missionary work by the French Primate of Africa, Cardinal Lavigerie. The cathedral in his time was the church of Saint Louis in Carthage, was also built in the 19th century, when the archdiocese, under Cardinal Lavigerie, held the primacy of all Roman Africa.

Titular sees[edit]

Tunisian independence[edit]

The number of Catholics fell following Tunisian independence. The ownership of many Catholic buildings, including the Saint Louis Cathedral, was transferred to the state under a modus vivendi reached between the Holy See and the Republic of Tunisia.[2]


Catholics form the majority (around 30,700 out of 50,000) of Christians in the country.[3] However, only about 500 of these Catholics regularly practice.[3] The Diocese of Tunis operates 12 churches, 9 schools, several libraries, and 2 clinics.[3] In addition to holding religious services, the Catholic Church has opened a monastery, freely organized cultural activities, and performed charitable work throughout the country.[3] Occasionally, Catholic religious groups hold services in private residences or other locations.[3]

Ecumenical outreach[edit]

Pope John Paul II visited Tunisia on April 15, 1996 to give support to the Church there and called for a peaceful dialogue between Muslims and Christians across North Africa. [4][5]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ GCatholic – data for all sections
  2. ^ "Holy See, Tunisia Sign Accord; Church Cedes Considerable Property", The Guardian 17 July 1964
  3. ^ a b c d e International Religious Freedom Report 2007: Tunisia. United States Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor (September 14, 2007). This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  4. ^ William D. Montalbano, Pope Seeks Tolerance in Visit to Tunisia. Los Angeles Times. April 13, 1966.
  5. ^ William D. Montalbano. Pope Urges Dialogue With Muslims. Los Angeles Times. April 15, 1996. There are an estimated 8.5 million Muslims in Tunisia.

External links[edit]