Pro Oriente
The Eastern Catholic Churches / The Eritrean Catholic Church

The Eritrean Catholic Church

Number of believersapprox. 170,000
Title of First HierarchMetropolitan of Asmara
See of the First HierarchAsmara (Eritrea)
Current IncumbentArchbishop Menghesteab Tesfamariam, born 1948, in office since 2015
Bishops and dioceses5 bishops; 4 dioceses (all in Eritrea)
Liturgical languageOld Ethiopian (Ge'ez), Tigrin
Presence in Austriaapprox. 50 faithful
Presence in Germanyapprox. 2,000 faithful; 2 priests

The Eritrean Catholic Church as such has only existed since January 2015, when Pope Francis decided that the eparchies (dioceses) on the territory of the state of Eritrea, which has been independent of Ethiopia since 1993, and which previously belonged to the Ethiopian Catholic Church, should become one independent church, in accordance with the provisions of Catholic Eastern Church law (“ecclesia sui iuris”) and raised to the rank of metropolis. The history and liturgy of this church are largely identical to the Ethiopian Catholic Church from which it emerged. There has been an independent Catholic hierarchy in Eritrea since 1930, when Pope Pius XI established an ordinariate for the Ethiopian Catholics in Asmara. Since 2015, the Eritrean capital has been the metropolitan seat, which includes three suffragan dioceses.


  • W. Schwaigert, Die Eritreisch-Katholische Kirche, in: RGOW 44 (2016) Nr. 11, 27.