Roman Catholicism in the Gambia
The Roman Catholic Church in the Gambia is part of the worldwide Catholic Church, under the spiritual leadership of the Pope in Rome. Gambia is a predominantly Muslim country (approximately 94% of the population). The Diocese of Banjul covers the whole of the country. Relations between the Muslim and Christian communities in Gambia are generally very good. The Catholic Church operates various missions including schools which children of Muslim parents attend. Of the minority Christian population, there are around 30,000 Catholics, which represents around 2% of the population.
The history of the Catholic Church in the Gambia is closely linked to Senegal. In 1445 Portuguese arrived on the coast of West Africa with the first attempts of Evangelism. From the ecclesiastical point of view, only in 1931 was born the mission of the Gambia, entrusted to the Congregation of the Holy Spirit, detached from the Apostolic vicariate of Senegambia. In 1951 was erected the Apostolic Prefecture of Bathurst (now Banjul), which became a diocese in 1957 immediately subject to Holy See. In 1992 Pope John Paul II visited Gambia and gave further impetus to the interest in Christian-Muslim relations within the Catholic community. The Pope stressed the importance of the good relations existing between the two. He stated “we are all pilgrims on the path of seeking to do God’s will in everything. Although we differ in many ways, there are important elements of our respective faiths which can serve as a basis for fruitful dialogue and a strengthening of the spirit of tolerance and mutual help”. He met with leaders of the Muslim community, and Muslims were present at the Mass he celebrated at the Independence Stadium while in the Gambia.
Organization and institutions
At the end of 2004 the Catholic Church of The Gambia counted:
- 56 parishes
- 26 priests
- 42 religious sisters
- 57 schools
- 9 charities.
The Catholic population amounted to 34,400 Christians, equal to 2.10% of the population.
The episcopate of the Gambia is part of the Catholic Church in Inter-territorial Catholic Bishops' Conference of The Gambia and Sierra Leone.
The Apostolic Delegation of the Gambia and Sierra Leone was established in 1975. On August 25, 1979 it was elevated to the rank of Apostolic Nunciature. The current headquarters of the Nuncio is Monrovia, the capital of Liberia.
- 1975 - 1976: Jerome Prison (titular archbishop of Lauriaco)
- 1976 - 1979: Joseph Ferraioli (titular archbishop of Volturno)
- 1979 - 1983: Johannes Dyba (titular archbishop of Neapolis of Proconsolare)
- 1984 - 1992: Romeo Panciroli (titular archbishop of Noba)
- 1992 - 1995: Luigi Travaglino (titular archbishop of Letters)
- 1995 - 1999: Antonio Lucibello (titular archbishop of Diocese of Thurio)
- 1999 - 2005: Alberto Bottari de Castello (titular archbishop of Diocese of Foraziana)
- 2005 - 2012: George Antonysamy (titular archbishop of Diocese of Sulci)
- 2013 - ...: Mirosław Adamczyk (titular archbishop of Diocese of Otricoli)
- Guide of the Catholic missions in 2005, by the Congregation for the evangelizatione gentium, Rome, Urban University Press, 2005.