Archd., 1; dioc., 3; abp., 1; bp., 5; parishes, 252; priests, 124 (100 dioc., 24 rel.); p.d., 1; sem., 50; brs., 1; srs., 87; catechist, 284; bap., 5,630; Caths., 415,000 (17.5%); tot. pop., 2,360,000.
Independent (1991) Baltic republic; capital, Riga. (Forcibly absorbed by the USSR in 1940; it regained independence in 1991). Catholicism was introduced late in the 12th century. Lutheranism became the dominant religion after 1530. Catholics were free to practice their faith during the long period of Russian control and during independence from 1918 to 1940. The relatively small Catholic community in Latvia was repressed during the 1940-91 Soviet takeover, which was not recognized by the Holy See or the United States. After Latvia declared its independence, the Church began to flourish, including among people who described themselves as nonreligious. In the late 1990s, one archbishop urged the Russian government not to interfere in disputes over citizenship for the country's ethnic Russians, who make up about one-third of the country's population.
(The above exert comes from Our Sunday Visitor's 2004 Catholic Almanac and is used on this web site with the publisher's permission.)