Catholicism and Gabon
The Roman Catholic Church has always found Africa fascinating in how they have partaken to the religion and how many people they have been able to convert in the continent. Of special interest is the Central Africa country of Gabon. The Francophonie state has almost half its population as Catholics. Despite growing statistics of Pentecostals in the region Gabonians have maintained a large percent of their populace under the patronage of the Roman Catholic Church.
The deep roots of the Catholic Church in region can be attribute to the French Missionary Jean-Remi Bessieux of the Congregation of the Holy Spirit in the early parts of the19th century. Due to resistance of the mainly Bantu speaking people in the region the penetration of the religion only started to take root in the early 20th century. By then France had taken Gabon as a colony in 1863 the Apostolic Vicariate of Gabon was born from the Two Guineas. By 1958 Gabon was established as Ecclesiastical Province, with an autonomous see in Libreville.
The first priest Ordained to the Catholic Church of Gabon was in 1961. In 1982 Gabon had its first and only visit by a sitting pope that is Pope John Paul the third. In 1997 the Holy See and the Republic of Gabon went into an agreement to adjust their understanding of collaboration between the church and the state.
The Roman Catholic Church has been instrumental in Gabon as it has been in other parts of Africa. With as many as five Diocese the largest been in Libreville, an Apostolic Vicariate of Makokou, one Ecclesiastical province, four suffrage diocese and one apostolic prefecture. With 14 parishes, 108 priests, 181 religious sisters, 245 schools and 18 charities servicing around 0ver 700,000 Gabonians as per statics provided by the Holy See in 2004.
The Vatican understands and appreciates Gabonians steadfast, appeal to the cause of the Catholic Church in Africa and its influence. They also understand that the church will continuously grow in th region due to Gabonians admiration of Catholicism.