Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Tunis

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Archdiocese of Tunis

Latin: Archidioecesis Tunetanus

Arabic: أبرشية تونس
French: Archidiocèse de Tunis
CountryFlag of Tunisia.svg  Tunisia
Area62,632 sq mi (162,220 km2)
- Total
- Catholics (including non-members)

(number unknown) (1%)
Denomination Catholic
Sui iuris church Latin Church
Rite Roman Rite
Cathedral St Vincent de Paul
Current leadership
Pope Francis
Archbishop Ilario Antoniazzi

The Archdiocese of Tunis is a Latin Church ecclesiastical territory or diocese of the Catholic Church in Tunis, Tunisia. It was founded on 10 November 1884 under the name "Archdiocese of Carthage", with territory corresponding to that of the then French protectorate of Tunisia. On 9 July 1964, it became a territorial prelature under the ecclesiastical title of Prelature of Tunis. It was made a diocese, keeping the name of Tunis, on 31 May 1995, and raised to the rank of archdiocese on 22 May 2010. [1]


The Cathedral of St. Vincent de Paul is the cathedral of the archdiocese of Tunis.


Background: ancient see of Carthage

The ancient see of Carthage, which is now a titular see, [2] was much less extensive than the archdiocese of Tunis. The territory of the archdiocese is coterminous with that of Tunisia, and thus corresponds approximately to that of the entire Roman provinces of Africa Proconsularis (Zeugitana) and Byzacena. The ancient diocese was only one of many bishoprics within the former of these Roman provinces.

On the other hand, the archdiocese does not enjoy the influence that the ancient diocese had over a large number of bishoprics in an area, encompassing not only today's Tunisia but also much of Algeria.

Apostolic prefecture

In 1684, Pope Urban VIII established an apostolic prefecture at Tunis for Ottoman Tunisia, which Pope Gregory XVI raised to the rank of an apostolic vicariate in 1843. [3]

Apostolic administration

In 1881, Tunisia became a French protectorate, and in the same year Charles Lavigerie, who was archbishop of Algiers, became apostolic administrator of the vicariate of Tunis. In the following year, Lavigerie became a cardinal. He "saw himself as the reviver of the ancient Christian Church of Africa, the Church of Cyprian of Carthage", [4] and, on 10 November 1884, was successful in his great ambition of having the metropolitan see of Carthage restored, with himself as its first archbishop. [5] In 1053, Pope Leo IX settled a dispute about primacy in the Roman province of Africa between the bishops of Carthage and Gummi by declaring that, after the Bishop of Rome, the first archbishop and chief metropolitan of the whole of Africa is the bishop of Carthage nor can he, for the benefit of any bishop in the whole of Africa, lose the privilege received once for all from the holy Roman and apostolic see, but he will hold it until the end of the world as long as the name of our Lord Jesus Christ is invoked there, whether Carthage lie desolate or whether it some day rise glorious again." [6] In line with this, Pope Leo XIII acknowledged the revived Archdiocese of Carthage as the primatial see of Africa and Lavigerie as primate. [7] [8] [9] (The statement by Auguste Boudinhon that the acknowledgement was made in 1893, the year after Lavigerie's death, [10] if not mistaken, is a reference to some renewed recognition.) From then until 1964, the Annuario Pontificio presented the see of Carthage as "founded in the 3rd century, metropolitan see of Proconsularis or Zeugitana, restored as archbishopric 10 November 1884". [11]

In July 1964, pressure from President Habib Bourguiba's government of the Republic of Tunisia, which was in a position to close down all the Catholic churches in the country, forced the Holy See to abide by a modus vivendi bilateral agreement which regulated its legal status according to the 1959 Constitution of Tunisia. [12] The modus vivendi gave the Catholic Church in Tunisia legal personality and stated that it was legally represented by the prelate nullius of Tunis. [12] :917 The Holy See chose the prelate nullius but the government could object against the candidate before an appointment. [12] :920 The modus vivendi banned the Catholic Church from any political activity in Tunisia. [12] :918 This particular agreement was unofficially described as instead a modus non moriendi ("a way of not dying"). By it, all but five of the country's more than seventy churches were handed over to the state, including what had been the cathedral of the archdiocese, while the state, for its part, promised that the buildings would be put only to use of public interest consonant with their previous function. [13] [14] [15]

Pope Paul VI suppressed the Archdiocese of Carthage and erected the Prelature nullius of Tunis, in his 1964 apostolic constitution Prudens Ecclesiae, to conform to the bilateral agreement. [16] The Archdiocese of Carthage reverted to the status of a titular see. The residential archdiocese's territory became that of the Territorial Prelature of Tunis, established on 9 July 1964. The first archbishop of the titular see, Agostino Casaroli, was appointed on 4 July 1967. The Annuario Pontificio of that period described the titular archiepiscopal see of Carthage as "founded in the 3rd century, metropolitan see of Proconsularis or Zeugitana, restored as an archiepiscopal see on 10 November 1884, titular archbishopric 9 July 1964". [17] The history of the territorial prelature was given as "founded 9 July 1964, previously an archbishopric under the name of Carthage founded 10 November 1884". [18]

What was the cathedral of the archdiocese of Carthage, the Saint Louis Cathedral (Carthage), is owned by the Tunisian state and is used for concerts.


The prelature was elevated to an exempt diocese, directly subject to the Holy See, in 1995. [19] [lower-alpha 1] In 2010, it was promoted to an exempt archdiocese. [21] The summary of the history of the residential archdiocese of Tunis now given in the Annuario Pontificio is: "archbishopric under the name of Carthage 10 November 1884; Prelature of Tunis 9 July 1964; diocese 31 May 1995; archbishopric 22 May 2010." [22] The ancient see of Carthage, on the other hand, being no longer a residential bishopric, is listed by the Catholic Church as a titular see in the same publication as distinct from the modern see of Tunis. As a summary history of the titular see of Carthage it states: "founded in the 3rd century, metropolitan see of Proconsularis or Zeugitana, restored as an archiepiscopal see on 10 November 1884, titular metropolitan see 9 July 1964". [23]


Apostolic Vicars of Tunis

Archbishops of Carthage

Territorial Prelates of Tunis

Bishops of Tunis

Archbishops of Tunis

Auxiliary bishops

Other priest of this diocese who became bishop

See also


  1. Although 1983 CIC canon 431 § 2 states that "[a]s a rule, exempt dioceses are no longer to exist", this case, according to 1983 CIC canon 3, is an exception that must conform to agreements such as the 1964 modus vivendi. [20]


  1. Annuario Pontificio 2013 (Libreria Editrice Vaticana 2013 ISBN   978-88-209-9070-1), p. 759
  2. Annuario Pontificio 2013 (Libreria Editrice Vaticana 2013 ISBN   978-88-209-9070-1), p. 860
  3. PD-icon.svgOne or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain : Alzog, Johann B. (1903). "The missions of the Catholic Church". In Pabisch, Francis J.; Byrne, Thomas S. (eds.). Manual of universal church history. Vol. 3 (Translated, with additions, from the 9th German ed.). Cincinnati: Robert Clarke. p. 933. OCLC   679368682.
  4. Hastings, Adrian (2004) [1994]. "The Victorian Missionary". The Church in Africa, 1450-1950. history of the Christian Church. Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 255. doi:10.1093/0198263996.003.0007. ISBN   9780198263999.
  5. Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Lavigerie, Charles Martial Allemand"  . Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
  6. Patrologia Latina, vol. 143, coll. 727–731
  7. Joseph Sollier, "Charles-Martial-Allemand Lavigerie" in Catholic Encyclopedia (New York 1910)
  8. Jenkins, Philip (2011). The next christendom : the coming of global Christianity (3rd ed.). Oxford [u.a.]: Oxford University Press. p. 46. ISBN   9780199767465.
  9. PD-icon.svg Jackson, Samuel Macauley, ed. (1910). "Lavigerie, Charles Martial Allemand". New Schaff–Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge . Vol. 6 (third ed.). London and New York: Funk and Wagnalls. p. 425.
  10. Boudinhon, Auguste (1911). "Primate"  . In Herbermann, Charles (ed.). Catholic Encyclopedia . Vol. 12. New York: Robert Appleton Company.
  11. Annuario pontificio (in Italian) (1964 ed.). Vatican Polyglot Press. 1964. p. 95. ISSN   0390-7252{{cite encyclopedia}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
  12. 1 2 3 4 Cicognani, Amleto G.; Slim, Mongi (1964-06-27). "Conventio (Modus Vivendi) inter Apostolicam Sedem et Tunetanam Rempublicam" (PDF). Acta Apostolicae Sedis . Vatican City: Typis Polyglottis Vaticanis (published 1964-11-30). 56 (15): 917–924. ISSN   0001-5199.
  13. "Closing down the churches". The Tablet . Vol. 218, no. 6481. London. 1964-08-08. pp. 6–7. ISSN   0039-8837 . Retrieved 2014-11-16.
  14. Twal, Fouad (2005-03-19). "Tunisie : réouverture de l'église de Jerba, un 'signe de la coexistence des croyants'". (in French). New York: Innovative Media (published 2005-03-21). Zenit News Agency. Archived from the original on 2015-01-11.
  15. Diez, Martino (2013-04-15). "The life of the Catholics from the time of Bourguiba to now". Milan: Fondazione Internazionale Oasis. Archived from the original on 2014-12-25.
  16. "Carthaginensis (Tunetanae)" (in Latin). From Pope Paul VI (1964-07-09). "Prudens Ecclesiae" (PDF). Acta Apostolicae Sedis (in Latin). Vatican City: Typis Polyglottis Vaticanis (published 1965-03-30). 57 (3): 217–218. ISSN   0001-5199. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2015-06-15. summa Nostra potestate cathedralem archiepiscopalem Sedem Carthaginensem e numero cathedralium Ecclesiarum tollimus atque exstinguimus, eandem in ordinem titulo tantum exstantium redigentes, eiusque loco praelaturam «nullius» Tunetanam erigimus, quae iisdem finibus cingetur ac prior Ecclesia, atque Apostolicae Sedi directo subicietur.
  17. Annuario pontificio (in Italian) (1969 ed.). Vatican Polyglot Press. 1969. p. 578. ISSN   0390-7252{{cite encyclopedia}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
  18. Annuario pontificio (in Italian) (1969 ed.). Vatican Polyglot Press. 1969. p. 767. ISSN   0390-7252{{cite encyclopedia}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
  19. "Tunetana" (in Latin). From Pope John Paul II (1995-05-31). "Antiquorum istius" (PDF). Acta Apostolicae Sedis (in Latin). Vatican City: Typis Polyglottis Vaticanis (published 1995-09-11). 87 (9): 775. ISSN   0001-5199. Tunetanam territorialem Praelaturam, Apostolicae Sedi immediate subiectam, ad gradum dioecesis evehimus, iisdem superioribus retentis finibus atque omnibus iuribus officiisque congruentibus concessis secundum iuris canonici praescripta.
  20. Beal, John P.; Coriden, James A.; Green, Thomas J., eds. (2000). "Canon 3". New commentary on the Code of Canon Law (Study ed.). New York [u.a.]: Paulist Press. pp. 50–51. ISBN   9780809140664.
  21. "Tunetana" (in Latin). From Pope Benedict XVI (2010-02-22). "Cum in Tunetana" (PDF). Acta Apostolicae Sedis (in Latin). Vatican City: Typis Polyglottis Vaticanis (published 2010-03-05). 102 (3): 141–142. ISSN   0001-5199. Summa igitur Nostra potestate dioecesim Tunetanam, Apostolicae Sedi immediate subiectam, ad gradum ac dignitatem archidioecesis attollimus iisdem servatis finibus.
  22. "Annuario pontificio (2013)". Annuario pontificio (in Italian) (2013 ed.). Libreria Editrice Vaticana. 2013. p. 759. ISBN   978-88-209-9070-1. ISSN   0390-7252.
  23. "Annuario pontificio (2013)". Annuario pontificio (in Italian) (2013 ed.). Libreria Editrice Vaticana. 2013. p. 860. ISBN   978-88-209-9070-1. ISSN   0390-7252.
  24. 1 2 "Archdiocese of Tunis". Catholic Dioceses in the World. Retrieved 2 March 2012.

Coordinates: 36°48′01″N10°10′44″E / 36.80028°N 10.17889°E / 36.80028; 10.17889

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