Roman Catholicism in Western Sahara

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Saint Francis of Assisi Cathedral, El Aaiún
A church in Dakhla

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

Western Sahara is one of the least-Catholic countries in the world; the church is largely composed of little more than 100 expatriate Spaniards out of a population of over 250,000. There are no dioceses in the country, which forms a single apostolic prefecture, originally administered by the Prefecture Apostolic of Spanish Sahara and Ifni (founded July 5, 1954), later the Prefecture Apostolic of Spanish Sahara (founded May 2, 1970.) The latter was renamed the Prefecture Apostolic of Western Sahara on May 2, 1976 and this is divided among two parishes. Only three Apostolic Prefects have overseen the territory: the Reverend Father Félix Erviti Barcelona,[1] from July 19, 1954 until his retirement on July 6, 1994, the Reverend Father Acacio Valbuena Rodríguez from July 10, 1994 until his retirement in 2009, and the Apostolic Prefect-elect, the Reverend Father Mario León Dorado, O.M.I., appointed by Pope Francis on June 24, 2013, who had formerly been Chief of the Apostolic Prefecture.[2][3]

Western Sahara is a former Spanish colony, and the Catholic faith was introduced via Spanish colonialism and prior Portuguese exploration. Prior to Spain's abandoning the country in 1975, there were over 20,000 Spanish Catholics.

Apostolic Prefectures[edit]

  • Roman Catholic Apostolic Prefecture of West Sahara[4]


  • Spanish Cathedral in El-Aaiún, Western Sahara (Roman Catholic Apostolic Prefecture of West Sahara)[5]


External links[edit]