The possibility to host a Catholic Chaplain within the Italian “legation” was provided by “The Agreement between Italy and Afghanistan to exchange permanent diplomatic missions” in 1921. King Amanullah, grateful to Italy for being the first western country to recognize formally the independence of Afghanistan, showed himself sensitive to the demand of the Catholics that were then present in the country and were asking for the spiritual assistance of a priest. Since the Arab conquest of Persia and Central Asia in the seventh century A.D., it was the first time that a Muslim government authorized the official establishment of a Catholic presence in Afghanistan, although prohibiting proselytism.
For this delicate task, Pope Pius XI chose the Barnabite Father EGIDIO CASPANI, a historian and a language scholar. After a month long adventurous journey, he arrived in Kabul on Christmas afternoon in 1932 to finally inaugurate the Chapel on the 1st of January 1933.
Since then, none of the various regimes or political-military upheavals that characterized the Afghan history (the monarchy in its diverse aspects, the republic established by Daoud, the communist regime, the soviet invasion, the Mujahideen’s reconquest, the civil war, the Islamic Emirate of the Taliban) has ever led to the expulsion of the Catholic Mission, which, furthermore, was praised by the Afghan Ministry of Foreign Affairs for its constant and tenacious presence during those difficult years.
In 2002, Pope John Paul II established the Independent Mission of Afghanistan (Missio sui iuris Afghanistaniensis), naming the Chaplain of the Italian Embassy as Ecclesiastical Superior of the Mission with the function of Local Ordinary for Catholics temporarily residing in the country.
The missionaries of Kabul were Father CASPANI (1933-1947), Father GIOVANNI BERNASCONI (1947-1957), Father RAFFAELE NANNETTI (1957-1965), Father ANGELO PANIGATI (1965-1990) and Father GIUSEPPE MORETTI (1990-2015). Currently, the Mission is led by Father GIOVANNI SCALESE.