Recent tensions between Iran and the United States have drawn the attention of Catholic leaders, who hope the two nations will avoid an escalation. The Islamic Republic of Iran is a theocratic republic. The majority of its population is Shiite Muslim, but religious minorities, such as Christians, are tolerated. Less than 1% of Iran’s population is Christian.
According to the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, Iran has nearly 300,000 Christians, including adherents of apostolic Churches—Latin Catholic, Armenian and Assyrian/Chaldean—and newer Protestant and evangelical churches. The Catholic hierarchy consists of one Latin archdiocese—Ispahan—which has been vacant since the 2015 retirement of Archbishop Ignazio Bedini. There are also several Eastern Church eparchies: four Chaldean and one Armenian.
Five of the parliament’s 290 seats are reserved for Christians and other minorities: two for Armenian Christians and one each for Assyrian/Chaldean Christians, Jews, and Zoroastrians.
USCIRF said that the Iranian government monitors members of the historical Churches and imposes legal restrictions on constructing and renovating houses of worship.
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