Holy See–Iran relations

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Holy See-Iran relations
Map indicating locations of Iran and Vatican City


Vatican City

Holy See–Iran relations refers to the diplomatic relations between the Holy See, which is sovereign over the Vatican City, and the Islamic Republic of Iran. Relations, or similarities, have also been noted between Roman Catholicism and Shia Islam, which are the official religions of the Holy See and Iran, respectively.[1]


Early relations began during the reign of Shah Abbas I when the Persian embassies visited the pope. The two countries have had formal diplomatic relations since 1954, since the pontificate of Pius XII, and have been maintained during Islamic revolution.[2] Iran has a large diplomatic corps at the Vatican with only the Dominican Republic having more diplomats accredited to the Holy See.[2]

In 1979 Pope John Paul II sent envoy to Iran to help to solve the Hostage Crisis. In 2008 relations between Iran and the Holy See were "warming", and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad "said the Vatican was a positive force for justice and peace" when he met with the Papal nuncio to Iran, Archbishop Jean-Paul Gobel.[3]

According to an online news story article by Carol Glatz of Catholic News Service posted on the CNS website on Thursday, October 7, 2010, President Ahmadinejad "told Pope Benedict XVI that he would like to work more closely with the Vatican in an effort to stop religious intolerance and the breakup of families. The president also appealed to world religions to cooperate in the fight against secularism and materialism, Iranian news agencies reported. The appeals came in a letter that was handed to the pope by Iranian Vice President for Parliamentary Affairs Sayyed Mohammad-Reza Mir-Tajeddini, during a brief meeting Oct. 6 at the Vatican. Vatican spokesman Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi confirmed to Catholic News Service Oct. 7 that the letter was given to the pope and its contents already published by Iranian media outlets. According to reports, the letter praised the pope and the Vatican for criticizing a U.S. pastor's threats to burn copies of the Qur'an on September 11". On November 3, the Pope sent the Iranian President a letter in reply, in which he stated that the establishment of a bilateral Vatican-Iranian commission would be a desirable step towards solving the problems of the Catholic Church in Iran.[4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Shias, Catholics and Protestants". The Economist. 27 January 2016. Retrieved 28 January 2016. 
  2. ^ a b "Iran's Secret Weapon: The Pope". Time magazine. November 26, 2007. Retrieved 2009-06-14. ... Iran, which has had diplomatic relations with the Holy See for 53 years ... 
  3. ^ Moore, Malcolm (June 1, 2008). "Pope avoids Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad". Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved 2009-06-15. Relations between Iran and the Holy See are warming, and Mr Ahmadinejad said the Vatican was a “positive force for justice and peace” in April after meeting with the new nuncio to Iran, Archbishop Jean-Paul Gobel. Benedict is also thought to have the support of several leading Shia clerics, including Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani in Iraq. 
  4. ^ Pope's letter to Ahmadinejad