Catholic Christians recognise the Bishop of Rome - the Pope - as God’s spokesman on earth concerning beliefs about God and moral behaviour. A clear line can be traced from the current Pope, Francis, back to St Peter, chosen by Jesus Christ as leader of his first followers. Each bishop governs his own region (diocese) in co-operation with the Pope. Under the Pope's guidance the Catholic Church takes a clear stance on many moral issues, defending the absolute inviolability of human life and the unbreakability of the marriage vows between two living Christians.

Catholics able to do so must attend Mass on Sundays. This service is a remembrance of the Last Supper celebrated by Jesus on earth. The Catholic Church holds that at Mass, although there is no tangible change in the bread and wine, these elements truly become the body and blood of Jesus. For Catholics, attending Mass is the most important way of worshipping God. In their private prayers, many Catholics also call upon the saints in heaven (who in turn pray to God), turning in particular to Mary the Mother of Jesus.

In England and Wales, King Henry VIII tried to bring the Catholic Church under his personal control in the 16th Century. Those Catholics who remained loyal to the Pope were persecuted, and Catholicism became a banned religion until the 19th Century. Only since 1850 have England and Wales once again had Catholic Bishops. The modern Catholic population of Wales is due largely to immigration - from Ireland after the potato famines of the 1840s and then from continental Europe. England and Wales form one national province in the Catholic Church, and the Archbishop of Westminster is customarily made a Cardinal - the current holder of that post is Cardinal Vincent Nichols. The whole of the Faith Wales area is within the Archdiocese of Cardiff.

For Catholic congregations in the Faith Wales area, click here.


The Chaplaincy to the University of Glamorgan provides the following information from its own researchers. Each page has been checked by the chaplaincy advisor from the relevant faith group. Within every major religion, there are differences of opinion between leaders, and between leaders and followers. We only aim to provide an overview.