On November 23, 2018, Pope Francis received in audience the Catholic Pastors of Iran, two Chaldeans and one Armenian.
The delegation was made up of Archbishop Ramzi Garmou, of Teheran of the Chaldeans, the Patriarchal Administrator of Ahwaz Chaldeans, Bishop Sarkis Davidian, Bishop of the Armenians of Isfahab and Father Jack Youssef, CM (Lazarist), Apostolic Administrator, vacant see and ad nutum Sanctae Sedis of Isfahan.
The Pope’s meeting with the Iranian Prelates remained <in chamber>, reported on November 23 “Vatican News,” which also published an informative note on the situation of Christians in Iran.
Christians number some 60,000 of the 80 million inhabitants of Iran. The number of Catholics is estimated at 11,000.
Along with Zoroastrians and Jews, Christians are an officially recognized minority protected by the country’s Constitution. However, no form of evangelization is permitted, and many Iranian Christians have been arrested, suspected of proselytism. Christians today continue to be considered second class.
The Holy See and Iran have enjoyed diplomatic relations since May 2, 1953.
The dialogue with Iran has been intensified during Pope Francis’ pontificate. In January 2016 the Holy Father met with President Hassan Rohani and twice with Vice-President Shahindokht Molaverdi.
Translation by Virginia M. Forrester