And of the Catholic and Franciscan Presence in Asia

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Situation of the Missionary Activity


of the Catholic and Franciscan Presence in Asia
Presentation with maps (organized by Korea):
Fr. Nicholas Seong-kil Shin, O.F.M.

1. Introduction

Pope John Paul II announced to the world a series of Apostolic Exhortations, among them "Ecclesia in Asia" (1999).
It came out of the Special Assembly for Asia of the Synod of Bishops that took place from 18 April to 14 May 1998 in the Vatican. It came after the Special Assemblies for Africa (1994) and America (1997), and was followed at the year's end by the Special Assembly for Oceania (1998).
After these Assemblies, the Pope gave his exhortations about pastoral care to each continent. These are the documents:

  • Ecclesia in Africa  John Paul II    1995 Apostolic Exhortation 

  • Ecclesia in Urbe    John Paul II    1998 Apostolic Constitution

  • Ecclesia in America       John Paul II    1999 Apostolic Exhortation 

  • Ecclesia in Asia      John Paul II    1999 Apostolic Exhortation 

  • Ecclesia in Oceania   John Paul II    2001 Apostolic Exhortation 

  • Ecclesia in Europa   John Paul II    2003 Apostolic Exhortation  


Among these exhortations, we will focus on Ecclesia in Asia. One of the main ideas of the Exhortation is of special interest to us. That is “dialogue”, which is the main theme of this International Conference. Dialogue is needed among Catholic communities for their unity and among other religions, for peace.


Article 24
The Church's service of unity has a specific relevance in Asia where there are so many tensions, divisions and conflicts, caused by ethnic, social, cultural, linguistic, economic and religious differences. It is in this context that the local Churches in Asia, in communion with the Successor of Peter, need to foster greater communion of mind and heart through close cooperation among themselves. Vital also to their evangelizing mission are their relations with other Christian Churches and ecclesial communities, and with the followers of other religions. The Synod therefore renewed the commitment of the Church in Asia to the task of improving both ecumenical relations and interreligious dialogue, recognizing that building unity, working for reconciliation, forging bonds of solidarity, promoting dialogue among religions and cultures, eradicating prejudices and engendering trust among peoples are all essential to the Church's evangelizing mission on the continent. All this demands of the Catholic community a sincere examination of conscience, the courage to seek reconciliation and a renewed commitment to dialogue.

Before going to the main section of the Exhortation, we have to mention the final document of 2003 Assisi General Chapter. Article 28-32 states dialogue is the path to peace. This theme inspires the International Council event.

§ 28. Dialogue commits all the dimensions of our life to creation, to society, to the fraternity and to the mission. When it succeeds in incarnating and at work, it is changed into an eloquent sign of that peace that silences the cries of violence and hatred.

2. Category

1) West Asia

  • Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Israel, Jordan, Iraq, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Yemen, Afghanistan, Pakistan.

  • Jewish and Arab culture.

  • Strong Anti-Christian Culture. Dominant Arab, Islam Culture. Severe conflict between Judaism and Islam.

2) South Asia

  • India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Bhutan, Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines.

  • Since the 18th century Western Imperialism ruled this area until the various regions declared their independence as States after World War II. Culturally mixed with Western and Eastern culture. Strong opposition to colonization culture; Christianity consider as pioneer of colonization. Hinduism and Buddhism are the root religions and main cultures of these countries.

3) East Asia

  • South Korea, North Korea, China, Mongolia, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Japan.

  • Non-Western Culture, strong identity of their own culture and language. One fourth of the world population lives in this area. 

3. World Religion

1) World Population
* Estimated mid-year population by major areas and regions, 2002-2003

(Source: “World Population Prospects: The 2003 Revision”, United Nations Publications.)

World 6,301,463 (in thousands)

Asia 3,823,390

Africa 850,558

Latin America and the Caribbean 543,246

Northern America 325,698

Europe 726,338

Oceania 23,606



Asia 3,823,390 (in thousands)

Eastern Asia 1,512,321

Southern Asia 2.106.366

Western Asia 204,703

2) World Religion

* Major Religions of the World Ranked by Number of Adherents

(Source: Last modified 6 September 2002.

(Sizes shown are approximate estimates, and are here mainly for the purpose of ordering the groups, not providing a definitive number. This list is socio-statistical in perspective.)

Christianity 2 billion 33% (dropping)

Islam 1.3 billion 20% (growing)

Hinduism 900 million 13% (stable) 

Buddhism 360 million 6% (stable)

Chinese traditional religion 225 million

Sikhism 23 million

Judaism 14 million

Shinto 4 million

3) Roman Catholic

* Catholic ratio on World Population (year 2002)
Continent Population Catholics Ratio (%)
World  6,221,894,000 1,070,315,000      17.20

America 857,783,000 534,339,000 62.30

Europe 702,083,000 279,915,000 39.90

Oceania 31,402,000 8,399,000 26.80

Africa 830,516,000 137,428,000 16.60

Asia 3,800,110,000 110,234,000 2.90

* Bishops, Priests, Number of Catholic Numbers per Priest (year 2002)
Continent Bishops Priests Number of Catholics per Priest

World  4,695 405,058 2,642 

Europe 1,511 203,751 1,374

America 1,762 121,394 4,402 

Asia 679 45,790 2,407

Africa 617 29,274 4,694

Oceania 126 4,849 1,732

* Religious, Seminarians (year 2002)

Continent Brothers Sisters Seminarians

World 54,828 782,932 113,199 

Europe 20,903 348,085 25,023

America 16,959 225,486 37,775

Asia 8,148 144,780 27,245

Africa 7,139 53,980 22,210

Oceania 1,679 10,601 946

* Top 10 Nations with Most Catholics. National Percentage of baptized Catholics

Italy 97.20% 55,599,000

Poland 95.40% 36,835,000

Mexico 95.30% 86,305,000

Spain 94.20% 36,956,000

Colombia 91.90% 32,260,000

Argentina 90.70% 31,546,000

Brazil 86.50% 134,818,000

Philippines 83.60% 58,735,000

France 82.10% 47,773,000

USA 26.00% 61,000,000

Germany 34.80% 28,403,000

4) Buddhism

* Top 10 Countries with the Highest Proportion of Buddhists. Percentage
Thailand 95%

Cambodia 90%

Myanmar 88%

Bhutan 75%

Sri Lanka 70%

Tibet 65%

Laos 60%

Vietnam 55%

Japan 50%

Macau 45%

Taiwan 43%

5) Hinduism

* Top 10 Countries with the Highest Proportion of Hindus. Percentage
Nepal 89% 19,000,000

India 79% 780,000,000

Mauritius 52% 600,000

Guyana 40% 300,000

Fiji 38% 300,000

Suriname 30% 116,000

Bhutan 25% 400,000

Trinidad and Tobago 24% 300,000

Sri Lanka 15% 2,800,000

Bangladesh 11% 12,000,000

6) Muslim
* Top 10 Countries with the Largest Muslim Population.
Indonesia 170,310,000

Pakistan 136,000,000

Bangladesh 106,050,000

India 103,000,000

Turkey 62,410,000

Iran 60,790,000

Egypt 53,730,000

Nigeria 47,720,000

China 37,108,000

Walbert Bühlmann mention

"Asia is the most religious Continent. Every major religion is rooted in Asia. Judaism, Christianity, Islam came from West Asia; and Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism came from East Asia. It is not only a historical fact but also an empirical reality."  

4. Catholics in Asia

1) Statistics and History
* Statistics in Asian Roman Catholic Churches

Resources from The Statistical Yearbook of the Church 2001(Vatican), Annuario Pontificio 2002(Vatican), Catholic Almanac 2003(Our Sunday Visitor)

(C): Catholics (in thousands), (D): Diocese, (P): Parish, (B): Bishop (includes Cardinal, Patriarch, Archbishop), (DP): Diocesan Priest, (RP): Religious Priest, (RB): Brother, (S): Sister.

  • Afghanistan

1. Statistics

(D) 1 (RD) 1 (S) 4
2. History

Even though a Christian community existed before the 7th century, it was totally subjugated by the Muslims. All the people are under Islamic law. Christian missionary work is forbidden.

  • Bangladesh

1. Statistics

(C) 266 (D) 6 (P) 78 (B) 9 (DP) 124 (RP) 141 (RB) 63 (S) 1,002
2. History

Jesuit, Dominican and Augustinian missionaries arrived in Bangladesh in the 16th century. The main diocese of Bengol was established in 1834, the Church boundaries were established in 1950. The Church is in charge of organizations that deal with human development, such as floods and natural disaster relief organizations. In 1988 Bangladesh was proclaimed an Islamic Nation.

  • Bhutan

1. History

The people are mostly Buddhist. Although officially they recognize other religions, conversions are forbidden. The Jesuits in 1963 and the Salesians in 1982 arrived in Bhutan, where they run schools. The Salesians were expelled in 1982 in relation with the problem of conversions. Only a few Jesuit and Sisters’ congregations remain. The Bhutan Church territory/circumscription belongs to the Diocese of Darjeeling in India.

  • Brunei

1. Statistics

(C) 21 (D) 1 (P) 3 (DP) 3 (RP) 1 (S) 2
2. History

Brunei’s official religion is Islam. Even though with restrictions, other religions are tolerated. However, since the Catholic faithful are migrant workers, they cannot obtain a permanent residence permit. Formerly Brunei belonged to the Malaysian diocese.

  • Cambodia /Khmer

1. Statistics

(C) 20 (D) 3 (P) 34 (B) 2 (DP) 7 (RP) 32 (RB) 5 (S) 74
2. History

The results of the evangelization started in the second half of the 16th century were more limited in Vietnam than in Khmer. Because of the Cambodian war of 1970, thousands of native Catholic faithful fled the country. With the turn over of the reins of power to the Khmer Rouge in 1975, the church fell into a state of uncertainty. Soon, foreign missionaries were expelled, the native clergy and religious were sent to the rural areas to do forced labor and a total persecution followed. Freedom of religion was once again protected and in 1994 the Vatican established diplomatic relations with Khmer.

  • China

1. History

In 1294, Franciscan friar John of Montecorvino started missionary work in China and in 1330 he was made a Bishop. After that many missionaries entered the country and were very active in apostolic work until 1368, when the missionary work of the friars was stopped.

Jesuit priest Matteo Ricci did astonishing work in 1580. By 1700 it is said that the number of Catholics had reached 300.000. Then the authorities from Rome made a negative decision concerning the controversy of the Chinese Rites that had continued all through the 17th century. In 1648, one of the first generation of missionaries in China, Francis de Capillas, was murdered. In the 18th century, depending on the Monarch in power, all kind of persecutions broke out and the majority of the foreign missionaries had to leave China. With the opening of China in 1840, the development of evangelization increased along the expansion of legal and social tolerance.

Missionary work in 1900 before the Communist persecution, particularly until the proclamation of the Popular Republic of China, was at its peak in all respects. However, as soon as the Communists took control of the Government, persecution started. As a result, 5.000 foreign missionaries, native clergy, religious, etc. had to suffer arrest or were put in prison. 3,932 schools, 216 hospitals, 781 pharmacies, 254 orphanages and 29 publishing companies had to close down or stop publishing. The Legion of Mary and other Catholic action organizations were forbidden and accused of being anti-revolutionary and opposing the New China.

A new Church system was created on November 4th, 1946. In July 1957, the Government officially declared its independence from the Vatican and created the “Patriotic Association of Chinese Catholics”. The next year, 1958, Pope Pius XII condemned that organization. However, a small number of priests and faithful joined it.

The same year, the Chinese Government “elected” 26 Bishops -thus making the Church in China heretic- and without Rome’s authorization, illegally consecrated Bishops during 1958 and 1959. After that, Bishops have continued to be consecrated in the same fashion. Officially, therefore, the Patriotic Church of China does not have any ties with the Vatican.
According to some Church security personnel within China, 2 out of 3 Bishops of the Chinese Patriotic Church are clandestinely reconciled with the Vatican. When the Chinese Government enforced the consecration of new Bishops on January 6th, 200, the Pope consecrated Bishops that same day. However, the situation of the Church in China is -according to a loyal Church authority- the Bishops belonging to the Patriotic Church

respect the system but keep at a distance. The next year, too, some Bishops were consecrated without the formal approval of the Vatican.

During the last years, even under severe persecution, Church growth is reported to continue. The highest ranking leader of the underground Church, Cardinal Ignatius Kung died of illness on March 12, 2000. Pope John Paul II canonized 120 martyrs of China on October 1, 2000. The Chinese Government is insisting that the Vatican’s diplomatic relations with Taiwan is the biggest obstacle to establishing diplomatic relations with the Vatican.
1581-1610: Jesuit M. Ruggieri and M. Ricci had started missionary work in China

1605: Catholic Church was established in Peking

1610: M. Ricci died

1615: Permission from the Chinese Emperor to celebrate the Mass in Chinese language

1634-1742: Chinese Rites Controversy was broken

1688: Three Chinese Jesuits were ordained Priests

1692: Emperor Kang-Hsi proclaimed Edict of Toleration

1707: Papal Emissary Maillard de Tournon condemned Chinese Rites

1707: Emperor Kang-Hsi expelled the missionaries

1724: Catholics persecuted by Chinese Emperor

1769: Paris Foreign Missionary arrived to China

1775: Jesuits were dispersed from China

  • East Timor

1. Statistics

(C) 767 (D) 2 (P) 37 (B) 2 (DP) 44 (RP) 71 (RB) 21 (S) 303

  • India

1. Statistics

(C) 16,770 (D) 148 (P) 8,333 (B) 190 (DP) 11,227 (RP) 8,584 (RD) 2,761 (S) 83,186
2. History

An old-time tradition believes that the Apostle St. Thomas introduced the Gospel in the Kerala region. Evangelization continued with the arrival of the Portuguese and continued with the conquest of Goa in 1510. Jesuits, Franciscans, Dominicans, Augustinians and other religious Orders and Congregations brightened the history of the missions in India. 5 Regional Councils took place between 1567 and 1606. In the second half of the 19th century the Jesuits contributed greatly to the development of the Catholic Church. A high proportion of Catholic faithful occupy Goa and Kerala State and other southern regions. In India, the majority of the population is made up of Hindu believers. In various regions, because of laws forbidding conversions, pastoral work and welfare activities were restricted.

During the last few years, the situation of the Church is tense on account of the Syro-Malabar Rites that go beyond the Church liturgy and tradition. Moreover, the Catholic Church in India is under stress because of the tense relationship between Latin Catholic and Oriental Catholic liturgies, which is beyond the interest of the Catholic faithful who got rid of the old traditional rites. The Holy See has repeatedly investigated Jesuits who propose to restrict the proclamation of Jesus as the Savior of the world and teach the solidarity among religions. In 1998, the cases of violence increased. Religious Houses and schools were destroyed, religious members suffered violence and some were killed. At this point, right-wing Hindu believers in Western India are in charge of an independent committee to investigate acts of violence.
1500: Franciscans and secular Priests arrived in Cochin

1510: Franciscans arrived in Goa

1517: Franciscans arrived in Colombo

1534: Diocese of Goa established (from the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa to Japan)

1542: St. Francis Xavier arrived in Goa

1578: Jesuits reached to the Mogul Empire in Northern India

1605: Jesuit Roberto de Nobili arrived in the Coast of Fishery

1635: Capuchins arrived in Pondicherry and Madras

1704: Papal Emissary Maillard de Tournon excommunicated the Jesuits because of the Rites Controversy

  • Indonesia

1. Statistics

(C) 6,440 (D) 36 (P) 1,057 (B) 43 (DP) 1,230 (RP) 1,809 (RB) 955 (S) 7,148
2. History

The evangelization of Indonesia was started by Portugal in 1511. St. Francis Xavier spent 14 months there. Around 1600 the Christian community was deeply rooted in one part of the country, but Islam also started to get strong around that time. 90% of the population is Islam. The Church structure was established in 1961. From 1981 until about 1996, there was much frictions between Catholics and Protestants because of the profanation of the Blessed Sacrament. With the economic collapse of Indonesia happening in the second half of 1990, the relation between Islam and the Church become more violent. Including Catholics, several hundred people were killed. In the middle of 2000 the Catholic leaders asked the UN for help.

1530: Missionaries mission to Timor

16c: Franciscan, Dominican, Jesuit missions to Moluccas, Java, Sumatra

1595: Netherlands invaded Indonesia

1656: Jesuit missioned to Borneo

  • Iran

1. Statistics

(C) 25 (D) 6 (P) 18 (B) 5 (DP) 7 (RP) 10 (S) 30
2. History

As a region bordering the Roman Empire, a Christian community was established early. These communities were persecuted in the 4th century and became isolated from the outside world. Although in 1834 freedom of religion was recognized, in 1918 Catholic believers had to endure an enormous massacre. 98% of the population is Islam. The Catholic Church has a mixture of Latin, Armenian and Caldean Rites. In 1980 the Government of Iran nationalized all the institutions managed by the Church, and approximately 75 Catholic missionaries of their own will or by force had to leave the country. But during the last years, Iranian authorities are collaborating in letting Church- related people into the country. Although the freedom of religion is protected, it is said that Iranian authorities are watching the activities of the Church. In March of 1999, Pope John Paul II met the President of Iran in the Vatican and discussed ways to improve the relations between Christians and Muslims.

  • Iraq

1. Statistics

(C) 280 (D) 17 (P) 100 (B) 19 (DP) 139 (RP) 25 (RB) 8 (S) 301
2. History

The Christian community of Iraq started about the same time as the Christian community of Iran. There are Catholics of the Armenian, Caldean, Latin and Sirian Rites. Caldeans are the majority. Muslims account for 90% of the population.

  • Israel

1. Statistics

(C) 113 (D) 9 (P) 81 (B) 8 (DP) 80 (RD) 293 (RB) 167 (S) 1,035
2. History

Israel is the birth place of Christianity. During hundreds of years, early Christians and Christian community were ruled by the Roman Empire. In the 7th century Muslims conquered Jerusalem. Except during the time the Crusade ruled the Israel, most of their history was dominated by Muslims until World War Ⅰ. After World War Ⅰ, Israel was occupied by the British Empire. 85% of the population confesses Judaism. The relationship between Israel and the Vatican had recovered in 1997. The Roman Catholic Church recovered their juridical position. However, the Palestinian Catholics suffer by the Israeli government.

  • Japan

1. Statistics

(C) 514 (D) 17 (P) 865 (B) 26 (DP) 510 (RP) 1,176 (RB) 237 (S) 6,437
2. History

By the end of 16th Century the Jesuits had started their mission to Japan. Historians say approximately 300,000 people converted to Catholicism. In 1597, 25 people were martyred in Nagasaki. Mission work was prohibited for two centuries. When missionaries came again to Japan in the 19th century, they found that some catholic communities had kept their faith in Nagasaki and Kyushu. In 1980 Church leaders apologized to the other nations for their agreement of the invasion during the 1930’s and 1940’s. Now, the priorities of church are immigrant workers, environment, inter-religious dialogue.

1549: St. Francis Xavier landed in Japan

1562 - 1582: Shogun Oda Nobunaga gave his approval to the Jesuits

1582 - 1598: Shogun Toyotomi Hideyoshi persecuted the Jesuits

1597: 25 Franciscans, Jesuits and lay people martyred

1614: Great Persecution starts

1616: Prohibition of Christianity 

  • Jordan

1. Statistics

(C) 68 (D) 2 (P) 62 (B) 3 (DP) 60 (RP) 16 (RB) 9 (S) 239

  • Kazakhstan

1. Statistics

(C) 178 (D) 4 (P) 40 (B) 3 (DP) 36 (RD) 27 (RB) 8 (S) 66
2. History

47% of their population is Muslim and 44% Russian Orthodox. The Catholics are Polish, German, Ukrainian descendants, etc. The Vatican and Kazakhstan government agreed to the approval of Roman Catholic rights in 1998.

  • Korea

1. Statistics

(C) 4,430 (D) 15 (P) 1,359 (B) 31 (DP) 2,943 (RP) 639 (RB) 713 (S) 9,343
2. History

It is the unique history of the establishment of the Korean Catholic Church in Catholic mission history. Without any help of foreign missionaries, the scholars in Chosun dynasty had started to study of Catholic theory. The Chosun dynasty changed during the end of 18th century, many books and theories were imported from China. Among them, the books of a Jesuit missionary Mateo Ricci and Pantoja reached the Korean scholars. The group of scholars studied sincerely these books. Finally they acknowledge the Roman Catholic Faith. One of them, Seung-hun Lee went to Peking in 1784 and was baptized by Chinese priest. He is the first Korean catholic in Korean Catholic history. When he came back to Korea, he started to baptize his colleagues. It became the first Korean Catholic Community in this country.

Chosun dynasty persecuted Catholics severely. Because Catholics broke the Confucianism theory, politics and society, etc. The Four Great Persecutions killed about 10,000 people in 1801, 1839, 1846, 1866. Among the faithful martyrs, 103 were canonized by John Paul Ⅱ in 1984, in Seoul.
1784: Seung-hun Lee is baptized in Peking

1784: Seung-hun Lee baptized Byuk Lee in Seoul

1785: A group of Scholars studied the Catholic theory

1786: The group created a quasi-hierarchical system (until 1789)

1794: The Chinese Priest Mun-mo Ju arrived in Seoul

1801: Great Persecution

1831: Fr. Bruguiere becomes the first Bishop of Cheosun Diocese

1839: Great Persecution

1846: Great Persecution (First Korean priest Andrew Kim is martyred)

1866: Great Persecution (over the years, approximately 10,000 Catholics were killed including some Paris Foreign Missionaries)

1882: Catholics obtain freedom to practice their faith

  • Laos 

1. Statistics

(C) 37 (D) 4 (P) 123 (B) 3 (DP) 13 (RP) 2 (S) 76

  • Macao

1. Statistics

(C) 20 (D) 1 (P) 8 (B) 2 (DP) 27 (RP) 43 (RB) 18 (S)183
2. History

In 1557, the Jesuits introduced Christianity. The first diocese was established in 1576. Macau became the base camp for missions to Korea and China. During the 400 years of Portuguese occupation, the community of the Portuguese and the community of Chinese were separated until the Pope appointed a Chinese bishop in 1988. Education is the main activity of Catholic Church.

  • Malaysia

1. Statistics

(C) 770 (D) 8 (P) 139 (B) 11 (DP) 183 (RP) 54 (RB) 62 (S) 545

  • Mongolia

1. Statistics

(C) 0.1 (D) 1 (P) 1 (DP) 2 (RP) 7 (RB) 5 (S) 19

  • Myanmar

1. Statistics

(C) 606 (D) 12 (P) 271 (B) 16 (DP) 476 (RP) 22 (RB) 98 (S) 1,349
2. History

Christianity was introduced in 1500. Until the year 1850, the mission work was ineffective. The Church system was established in 1955. The Myanmar proclaimed that Buddhism is the national religion of Myanmar in 1961. After that year, the government occupied the Catholic school, hospital, church and prohibited missionary activity. Many missionaries went back to their country, because the government would not approve the plan of missionary work. Presently, the church is being slowly developed by missionaries.

  • Nepal

1. Statistics

(C) 6 (D) 1 (P) 35 (DP) 12 (RP) 40 (RB) 1 (S) 104

  • Pakistan

1. Statistics

(C) 1,255 (D) 7 (P) 117 (B) 8 (DP) 142 (RP) 140 (RB) 44 (S) 703

  • Philippines

1. Statistics

(C) 63,694 (D) 83 (P) 2,792 (B) 118 (DP) 5,122 (RP) 2,492 (RB) 627 (S) 11,044
2. History

Magellan discovered the Philippines Islands in 1521.The Spanish Empire ruled this country until the year 1898. Spaniards appointed bishops and priests to control the church’s work during 400 years. So far, the Philippines is the oldest and the biggest Catholic country in Asia. The Philippine Church has interest in urban poor people, immigrants workers, environment and to abolish the death penalty.

1565: Augustinians arrived in the Philippines

1574: Franciscans arrived in the Philippines

1579: Dominicans arrived in the Philippines

1581: Jesuits arrived in the Philippines

1611: Dominicans establish the Pontifical University Sto. Tomas in Manila

  • Qatar

1. Statistics

(C) 65 (P) 1 (DP) 2 (RP) 1

  • Saudi Arabia

1. Statistics

(C) 800 (P) 5 (DP) 1 (RP) 4 (S) 16
2. History

The majority of people are Muslims. The government prohibits the spread of other religions. Most of Roman Catholics are immigrant workers in the Saudi Arabia.

  • Singapore

1. Statistics

(C) 156 (D) 1 (P) 30 (B) 2 (DP) 69 (RP) 64 (RB) 53 (S) 221
2. History

Portuguese introduced Christianity to Singapore in 1511. Singapore was established in 1819.

  • Sri Lanka

1. Statistics

(C) 1,354 (D) 11 (P) 380 (B) 15 (DP) 615 (RP) 333 (RB) 236 (S) 2,333
2. History

Portuguese had started their mission to Sri Lanka. Thanks to the heroic work of Br.Joseph Baz, the Catholic Church revived in Sri Lanka until the end of 17th century. The Country became independent from the British Empire in 1948.

  • Viet Nam

1. Statistics

(C) 5,412 (D) 25 (P) 2,559 (B) 37 (DP) 2,027 (RP) 474 (RB) 1,487 (S) 9,548
2. History

Christianity was introduced to Vietnam in 1533. The Jesuits came in 1615 and they founded a seminary in 1666. Local sister’s congregations were founded in 1670. Three great persecutions broke out in 1698, the 18th century and early 19th century. The 117 canonized Vietnamese martyrs were killed at that time. The Vietnam War broke out in 1964. The Catholic Church is controlled by a socialist government after Vietnam socialized the whole country in 1975.

2) Roman Catholic Situation in Asia
* Federation of Asian Bishops' Conference
The Federation of Asian Bishops' Conferences (FABC) is a voluntary association of episcopal conferences in Asia, established with the approval of the Holy See. Its purpose is to foster among its members solidarity and co-responsibility for the welfare of Church and society in Asia. The decisions of the Federation are without juridical binding force; their acceptance is an expression of collegial responsibility.
The functions of FABC shall be:

  • To study ways and means of promoting the apostolate, especially in the light of Vatican II and post-conciliar official documents, and according to the needs of Asia;

  • To work for and to intensify the dynamic presence of the Church in the total development of the peoples of Asia;

  • To help in the study of problems of common interest to the Church in Asia, and to investigate possibilities of solutions and coordinated action;

  • To promote inter-communication and cooperation among local Churches and bishops of Asia;

  • To render service to episcopal conferences of Asia in order to help them to meet better the needs of the People of God;

  • To foster a more ordered development of organizations and movements in the Church at the international level.

  • To foster ecumenical and interreligious communication and collaboration.

* Key Notes and Agenda of FABC

  • Family In Communication: Communication In The Family. Various Authors, 2004

  • Missio Inter Gentes: Towards a New Paradigm in the Mission Theology of the Federation of Asian Bishops' Conferences, by Jonathan Yun-ka Tan. 2004

  • Local Church, Dialogue and Conversion, by James H. Kroeger, M.M. 2003.

  • Toward a Paradigm Shift in Mission Amongst the Indigenous Peoples in Asia, by Jojo M. Fung, S.J. 2002

  • Dignity and Identity: The Struggle of Indigenous Peoples in Asia to Preserve, Purify and Promote Their Cultures, by John Mansford Prior, SVD. 2002

  • Christians and Muslims in Dialogue, by Thomas Michel, S.J. 2002

  • Towards a Culture of Peace in the 21st Century Our Responses as Christians to Social Advocacy 

  • Church and Social Communication: The Asian Synod - FABC Challenges, by Franz-Josef Eilers, SVD. 2001 

  • Asian Movement For Christian Unity III: Giving Shape to a New Ecumenical Vision, 2001

  • A Guidebook to the Apostolic Exhortation: The Church in Asia (Ecclesia in Asia), 2001

  • Methodology: Asian Christian Theology (Doing Theology in Asia Today). A Document of the Office of Theological Concerns of the Federation of Asian Bishops' Conferences, 2000

* Religions in Asia (unit: %)

  • Roman Catholic

Philippines: Roman Catholic 84, Protestant 10, Islam 5, Buddhist and other 3

  • Hindu Countries

Nepal: Hindu 90, Buddhist 5, Islam 3

India: Hindu 83, Islam 11, Christian 3, Sikh 2, Buddhists 0.71

  • Islam Countries

Afghanistan: Muslim (Sunni 84, Shi'ite 15), other 1

Bangladesh: Muslim 83, Hindu 16, Buddhist, Christian, other

Brunei: Muslim (official religion) 67, Buddhist 12, Christian 9

Indonesia: Muslim 87, Christian 9, Hindu 2, other 2

Iran: Muslim (Shi'ite 95, Sunni 4)

Iraq: Muslim 97 (Shi'ite 65, Sunni 32), Christian or other 3

Jordan: Muslim 92, Christian 6, other 2

Kazakhstan: Muslim 47, Russian Orthodox 44, Protestant 2, other 7

Kuwait: Muslim 85 (Shi'ite 30, Sunni 45, other 10);

Christian, Hindu, Parsi, and other, 15

Kyrgyzstan: Muslim 75, Russian Orthodox 20, other 5

Lebanon: Muslim 60, Christian 40 (17 recognized sects), Judaism (1 sect)

Pakistan: Muslim 97, Hindu, Christian, Buddhist, Parsi 3

Qatar: Muslim 95

Saudi Arabia: Muslim 100

Syria: Muslim 90, Christian 10

Tajikistan: Muslim Sunni 80

Turkey Islam: Muslim Sunni 98

Uzbekistan: Muslim (mostly Sunni) 88, Eastern Orthodox 9, other 3

  • Budhism Countries

Bhutan: Buddhist 75, Hindu 25

Cambodia: Buddhist 95, others 5

Laos: Buddhist 85, animist and other 15

Mongolia: predominantly Tibetan Buddhist, Muslim about 4

Myanmar: Buddhist 90, Christian 5, Muslim 3.8, Hindu 0.1, Animist 1.3

Sri Lanka: Buddhist 69, Hindu 15, Islam 8, Christian 8

Japan: Shintoist 52.8, Buddhist 41.2, Christian 0.8, Others 5.2

Korea: Buddhist 47.0, Protestant 36.8, Catholic 13.7, Confucianist 0.7,

Others 1.4, Non-believer 46.1

Thailand: Buddhist 94.4, Muslim 4, Hindu 1.1, Christian 0.5

Taiwan: Buddhist 23.0, Taoist 15.0, Protestant 2.0, Catholic 1.5, Other 2.5

  • Others

Vietnam: No data but major dominant order by Buddhist, Roman Catholic, Islam, Taoist, Confucian, Animist   

Israel: Judaism 82, Islam 14, Christian 2, others 2

China: Officially atheist but traditional religion contains elements of Confucianism, Taoism, Buddhism

North Korea: No data. Buddhism and Confucianism;

religious activities almost nonexistent        

Singapore: No data

5. Statistical Numbers of Franciscans in Asia

1) East Asia Conference (EAC)

    • Entities: Japan, Korea, Philippines, Taiwan, Vietnam

    • President: Br. Arturo Daquilanea, OFM. (Philippines)

    • Vice President: Br. Phi Khanh Vuong Khoi, OFM. (Vietnam)

    • Secretary: Br. Andres Ranoa, OFM. (Philippines)

2) South Asia Australia and Oceania Conference (SAAO)

  • Entities: Australia-New Zealand-Singapore, India, Indonesia,

Malaysia, Pakistan

  • President: Br. Scaria Vanarath, OFM (India)

  • Vice President: Br. Stephen Bliss, OFM (Australia)

  • Secretary: Br. Amaladass Manickan, OFM (India)

* Asia and Oceania (followed by General Curia’s Categorizing)

(Dom) House (Ep) Cardinal, Archbishop, Bishop (Sac) Priest (Dp) Permanent Deacon (Cl) Temporary Professed for Cleric (Lc) Solemn Professed for Brother (So) Temporary Professed for Brother (Tot) Total (Nov) Novice (Sum) Final (Pos) Postulant

  • Australia

(Dom) 20, (Ep) 1, (Sac) 95, (Lc) 27, (So) 2, (Tot) 125, (Sum) 125, (Pos) 3

  • East Timor

(Dom) 1, (Sac) 6, (Lc) 1, (Tot) 7, (Sum) 7, (Pos) 5

  • India

(Dom) 24, (Sac) 79, (Cl) 58, (Lc) 13, (So) 5, (Tot) 155, (Nov) 10, (Sum) 165, (Pos) 15

  • Indonesia

(Dom) 17, (Ep) 4, (Sac) 72, (Cl) 56, (Lc) 39, (Tot) 171, (Nov) 19, (Sum) 190, (Pos) 21

  • Japan

(Dom) 68, (Ep) 1, (Sac) 102, (Dp) 2, (Cl) 4, (Lc) 12, (Tot) 121, (Sum) 121, (Pos) 3

  • Kazhakhstan

(Ep) 1, (Sac) 5, (Cl) 1, (Lc) 2, (Tot) 9, (Sum) 9

  • Korea

(Dom) 16, (Sac) 43, (Cl) 31, (Lc) 56, (Tot) 125, (Nov), (Sum) 125, (Pos) 3

  • Macau

(Sac) 1, (Tot) 1, (Sum) 1

  • Malaysia

(Dom) 1, (Sac) 4, (Lc) 2, (Tot) 6, (Sum) 6

  • New Zealand

(Dom) 3, (Sac) 6, (Lc) 5, (Tot) 11, (Sum) 11

  • Pakistan

(Dom) 15, (Ep) 1, (Sac) 23, (Cl) 3, (Lc) 9, (Tot) 36, (Nov) 3, (Sum) 39, (Pos) 4

  • Papua New Gini

(Dom) 15, (Ep) 2, (Sac) 24, (Cl) 6, (Lc) 15, (Tot) 47, (Sum) 47, (Pos) 4

  • Philippines

(Dom) 30, (Sac) 93, (Dp) 1, (Cl) 36, (Lc) 21, (Tot) 151, (Nov) 5, (Sum) 156, (Pos) 17

  • Pitcairna

(Sac) 1, (Tot) 1, (Sum) 1

  • Singapore

(Dom) 3, (Sac) 7, (Cl) 3, (Lc) 2, (So) 1, (Tot) 13, (Nov) 1, (Sum) 14

  • Sri Lanka

(Dom) 3, (Sac) 4, (Cl) 1, (Lc) 2, (Tot) 7, (Nov) 1, (Sum) 8

  • Taiwan

(Dom) 7, (Ep) 1, (Sac) 52, (Cl) 2, (Lc) 13, (Tot) 68, (Sum) 68, (Pos) 1

  • Thailand

(Sac) 2, (Lc) 2, (Tot) 3, (Sum) 3

  • Viet Nam

(Dom) 16, (Sac) 59, (Cl) 32, (Lc) 38, (So) 20, (Tot) 149, (Nov) 12, (Sum) 161, (Pos) 8
* Total

(Dom) 239, (Ep) 11, (Sac) 678, (Dp) 3, (Cl) 233, (Lc) 258, (So) 28, (Tot) 1211, (Nov) 60, (Sum) 1271, (Pos) 95

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