With the announcement of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the Holy See and the Sultanate of Oman on February 23, 2023, there are now 184 countries with which the Apostolic See maintains such relations. Only a dozen countries are exceptions, including China and Saudi Arabia.
The exchange of signatures took place in New York, at the headquarters of the Permanent Mission of the Sultanate to the UN, in the presence of Msgr. Gabriele Caccia, representative of the Holy See to the UN.
In a statement issued by the Press Office of the Holy See on February 23, the Vatican and the Sultanate of Oman announced their desire to promote their “mutual understanding” and to further strengthen “friendship and cooperation” between the two sovereign states.
The agreement is governed by the Vienna Convention of 18 April 1961 concerning diplomatic relations: it provides for the establishment of an apostolic nunciature, in this case specifically in Oman, and an embassy of the Sultanate to the Holy See.
Located in the southeastern part of the Arabian Peninsula, the territory of Oman is part of the Apostolic Vicariate of South Arabia, based in Abu Dhabi, and entrusted to the pastoral care of Msgr. Paolo Martinelli.
In this country of 4.5 million inhabitants, the Church has four parishes administered by a dozen priests. The practicing Catholics are mostly foreign workers from the Philippines and India.
The Holy See hopes that the establishment of full diplomatic relations with the Sultanate of Oman will allow the Church to shine more in the region, perhaps opening the way to a similar agreement with Saudi Arabia. For the record, Kuwait was the first Gulf country to formalize its relations with the Vatican in 1968. Yemen did the same in 1998, Bahrain in 2000, Qatar in 2002 and the United Arab Emirates in 2007.
At present, 184 countries have established diplomatic relations with the Holy See, and only a dozen states are still resisting: Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Bhutan, Brunei, Comoros, Laos, the Maldives, North Korea, China, Somalia, and Vietnam.