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TimelineThe Vicariate of Kuwait is now the Apostolic Vicariate of Northern Arabia which includes Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar and Saudi Arabia. The decree from the Holy See came into effect on May 31, 2011.

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The Catholic Church in Kuwait: Introduction


Early Beginnings ...

"Who can foretell the destiny of man or even a nation?" ... As little as five decades ago, not even men of science could predict for sure that the Arabian Desert would remain doomed and desolate for eternity. But the ways of God are indeed strange and mysterious, and His plan for this region would soon be realized ... hidden far beneath the desert sands was an immense treasure of wealth waiting to pour forth its riches and bless the land with prosperity.

The discovery of oil in the Arabian Peninsula was a blessing from God to the people of this land, and the development and the rise of Kuwait is one of the most remarkable achievements in contemporary history. Until a few decades ago, Kuwait was referred to as a "desert kingdom". Today, the country is associated with a flourishing oil industry and a general prosperity that all nations aspire to. The success of the rapid transformation of Kuwait from a largely impoverished desert sheikhdom into an ultra modern nation-state of trade and commerce is one of the most remarkable achievements in contemporary history and can very well be attributed to the wisdom and prudent use of the oil revenues by Kuwait's past and present rulers.

Thanks to the far-sightedness of the Kuwaiti rulers, concessions were granted to foreign oil companies, who rushed in with specialised experts, technology and administrators.The wealth of natural oil has brought to Kuwait, people of different nations seeking gainful employment and trade opportunities. This trend continues even today, which explains why more than half of the population consists of foreigners.

The Bible speaks ...

"Water will gush forth from the wilderness and streams in the desert; gladness and joy will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee away."
-- Isaiah 35: 6-10

The great and constant influx of foreigners into the country also includes a balanced proportion of Christians which represents around 12% of the total population of Kuwait. It is a surprise to many on their first visit to Kuwait, to find in this corner of Arabia, a vibrant Christian community with freedom to practice religion. The existence of Christianity represented by different Christian denominations is partly due to the tolerance of Kuwait's rulers and the Government. Kuwait truly exemplifies the words of its constitution, which states that "freedom of belief is absolute," and that the State protects the freedom of practicing religion in accordance with established customs, "provided that it does not conflict with public policy or morals."

The Catholic Church is the largest among Christian Groups in Kuwait. The community is a picturesque mosaic of multi-national, multi-cultural and multi-lingual migrant workers. More importantly, the community reflects the diversity and richness of the Universal Church as there are an estimated 100,000 Catholics belonging to different Rites - Latin, Maronite, Greek Catholic, Coptic Catholic, Syrian Catholic, Armenian Catholic, Syro-Malabar, Syro-Malankara and Chaldeans, all united in the same faith under the Holy Father. Among them, the largest group consists of those belonging to the Latin Rite or what is called the Western Catholic Church. In Kuwait, the Latin faithful come from India, the Philippines and other Arab States; a small number are from Europe, Africa, America, other Asian countries and the Far East.

The Teresian Carmel (Discalced Carmelite Order) secured the presence of the Latin Church in Kuwait in1953, when the Holy See entrusted the territory to the Order, as territory separated from the Vicariate Apostolic of Arabia, administered by the Capuchin Friars. In 1953, it was erected into a Prefecture Apostolic. In 1954, it was raised to become a Vicariate Apostolic.

On May 31, 2009, the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples issued the decree by which, the Order of Capuchin Friars Minor was entrusted with the Jus Commissionis (pastoral responsibility and authority) of the Vicariate of Kuwait.

The Vicar Apostolic of Northern Arabia is presently assisted, in the pastoral care of the faithful of Kuwait, by Franciscan Capuchin priests, Discalced Carmelite priests, Salesian priests, secular priests, a priest of the Maronite Rite and a permanent deacon. The Greek Catholic priest in Kuwait lives independently and holds his Church services and activities in his rented villa in Salwa. The Church in Kuwait is also blessed to have three religious communities that impart a sound education through the co-educational high schools run by them. They are the Rosary Sisters from Jordan and Lebanon that run the Fager Al-Sabah School, the Apostolic Carmel Sisters from India that run the Carmel School and the Salesians of Don Bosco from the Indian province that run the Indian English Academy School.

Parishes of Kuwait

There are 3 Catholic churches and 1 mission in Kuwait. They are in Kuwait City, Ahmadi, Salmiya and Jleeb Al-Shuyoukh. The Greek Catholic church conducts its services separately in Salwa. The location, addresses and other contact details of the Parish Churches in Kuwait can be found by clicking on the following links:

Holy Family Cathedral Parish, Kuwait City
Our Lady of Arabia Parish, Ahmadi
St. Thérèse Parish, Salmiya
St. Daniel Comboni Parish, Jleeb Al-Shuyoukh

Ecumenism in Kuwait ...

Ecumenical relations between the Catholic Church and other Christian Denominations present in Kuwait - Orthodox (Greek, Coptic, Armenian, Syrian Orthodox, Indian), Anglicans, Protestants, Presbyterians are good. Occasionally, common prayer services are held. Representatives of the different Churches participated in the MECC Gulf Churches' Conference recently held in Kuwait. The Churches in Kuwait have formed a National Ecumenical Fellowship, the first in the Gulf. The Executive Committee of the Fellowship held its first meeting on March 19, 2005.

Conclusion ...

Offshore drilling for oilKuwait is fortunate to have in its present day ruler, a man as enlightened as His Highness, the Amir, who, with his understanding of the pluralistic condition of the modern changing world, has facilitated the establishment of diplomatic relations with the Vatican State. Kuwait was the first member of the Gulf Cooperation Council to maintain diplomatic ties with the Vatican State. The traditional cordial relations between the Holy See and the Government of Kuwait were established far back in October 1968. However, it was only in the year 2000 that the Apostolic Nunciature was established in Kuwait. We believe that this strengthening of ties will not only help to promote friendly relations between the two States, but also lead to a deeper understanding of, and mutual respect for the world's greatest religions.

Much can be said of the great and dedicated pastors and lay persons so instrumental in bringing about the growth and development of the Catholic Faith in Kuwait, for the last so many decades. But it is beyond the scope of this web-site, for no contribution by any one person was or is too small to deserve a mention. We can only give thanks to God for all these wonderful people and for their generous efforts to bring His mercy and love to all.

Finally, and more importantly, we invoke God's blessings on the State of Kuwait, its rulers and people, the Vicariate of Northern Arabia, our visionary Bishop, the members of the Clergy and all the faithful. And to you, reader of this article, we thank you for your time and interest about the Church in Kuwait. God Bless You.

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