That situation resulted in a phone call on Nov. 4, 2022, between Oman Foreign Minister Sayyid Badr Hamad al Usaidi and Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, Vatican minister for relations with states.
After the phone call, Oman’s foreign ministry announced that the archbishop and the foreign minister had “agreed to establish diplomatic relations between the Sultanate of Oman and the Holy See.”
With this decision, there remain six states without any official ties to the Holy See: Saudi Arabia, Bhutan, China, North Korea, the Maldives, and Tuvalu. There are apostolic delegates in four countries: Comoros and Somalia in Africa and Brunei and Laos in Asia.
Negotiations formally began with Vietnam to establish full diplomatic relations, which led at the end of 2011 to the appointment of a nonresidential Vatican representative to the government in Hanoi. The last meeting of the committee, in April 2022, decided to continue to progress in diplomatic relations, to now go from a nonresident representative of the Holy See to a resident representative in Hanoi.
The Holy See has established some informal ties with Saudi Arabia, first participating as an observer country in the Constitution of KAICIID (the center for interreligious dialogue sponsored by the Saudis, based in Vienna until this year and now in Lisbon). In April 2018, there was a historic trip to Saudi Arabia by Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran as president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue. He even managed to celebrate a Mass in the country, whose territory is considered sacred by Islam.
Andrea Gagliarducci is an Italian journalist for Catholic News Agency and Vatican analyst for ACI Stampa. He is a contributor to the National Catholic Register.