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Church in Brunei

Capital : Bandar Seri Begawan
Population : 440,700
Catholics : 29,462
Jurisdictions : One Apostolic Vicariate
Parishes : Three
Major Religions : Islam - 82.1 percent, Christians - 6.7 percent, Buddhists - 6.3 percent

Brunei is an Islamic country in Southeast Asia where the Sharia law regulates life. The Church in Brunei works amidst strict prohibitions on evangelization-related acivities. 

Besides, contact with Christians in other countries, import of the Bible and public displays of celebrations like Christmas are banned in the country by a royal decree.

The teaching of non-Muslim religions in schools and marriages between Christians and Muslims are also prohibited.

The country has some 440,700 people as of 2021. The majority of the country’s population were Muslims comprising of 82.1 per cent (362,035 persons) in 2021, government data showed.

The remaining population consisted of Christians at 6.7 percent (29,462 persons) , Buddhists at 6.3 percent (27,745 persons) and members of others faiths or having no religious beliefs at 4.9 per cent (21,473 persons).

Catholics in Brunei find their roots in the ministry of the Missionary Society of St. Joseph (Mill Hill Missionaries).
Christianity first arrived in Brunei when Spanish missionaries from the Philippines reached there in the 16th century.

For many years, the Church in Brunei was administered by various ecclesiastical jurisdictions based in Labuan, Jesselton (now Kota Kinabalu), Kuching, and Miri cities of Malaysia.

The separation of Bruneian territory, formerly under the Diocese of Miri-Brunei (now known as the Diocese of Miri in Malaysia), created a distinct Bruneian Church.

This separated territory was designated as an apostolic prefecture in November 1997, to be headed by the then Monsignor Cornelius Sim. This Bruneian priest was the vicar general of Miri-Brunei and was its first apostolic prefect.

The Apostolic Prefecture of Brunei Darussalam was established in February 22, 1998. On October 20, 2004, it was elevated to an apostolic vicariate.

Monsignor Sim was named its first apostolic vicar, carrying the dignity of a titular bishop. The official celebrations and Episcopal ordination took place on January 21, 2005.

The Apostolic Vicariate of Brunei Darussalam covers the territory of Brunei, and the Apostolic Vicar Cardinal Cornelius Sim led it until his death on May 29, 2021. 

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