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Celebrating the 500th Anniversary of Catholicism in the Philippines

“…500 years have passed since the Christian message first arrived in the Philippines. You received the joy of the Gospel... And this joy is evident in your people … We see it in your eyes, on your faces, in your songs and in your prayers. In the joy with which you bring your faith to other lands …”

~ Pope Francis said in his homily of the Mass at the Vatican on March 14, formally opening the yearlong celebrations marking the 500th anniversary of Catholicism’s arrival in the Philippines.

A country of 7,641 islands at the sea of southeast Asia with a population of 109 million, of which more than 10 million are migrants living in almost 100 countries across the world.

Why the Pope calls Filipinos “smugglers of faith”? What makes the local Church so unique?

What is the Catholic population in the country? How many dioceses, bishops are there?

All you need to know about the Church in the Philippines in one click
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Church in Japan

Capital : Tokyo
Population : 126 million
Catholics : 54,0496 (0.43%)
Jurisdictions : Three Archdioceses, 13 Dioceses
Parishes : 866
Major Religions : Folk Shinto 51.8%, Buddhism 34.9%, Shinto sects 4%, Christianity 2.3%, Others 7%
Some scholars believe the Nestorian version of Christianity existed in Japan in the 6th century. While such claims are debatable, documents show that the Portuguese, who established the sea route to Asia in 1498, introduced Catholic faith in Japan in 1543.

The arrival of St. Francis Xavier (1506-1552) in 1549 augmented the missionary activities in Japan. The Spanish Jesuit priest enjoyed the favor of rulers and was instrumental in building up a thriving Christian community. The baptized were encouraged to accept European names and the western culture. This gave raise to suspicion that Christianity was a tactic to subvert the nation's culture.

The suspicion began during the regime of Toyotomi Hideyoshi (1585–1598) and grew under Tokugawa Shogunate’s reign (1603–1868), resulting in the persecution of Christians and suppression of Christianity. Japan opened itself to a greater foreign interaction in 1853, but proselytism was still banned. In 1873, the Japanese government ended its repressive attitude under pressure from western nations and began to tolerate missioners.

Despite years of activity, Christianity remains a minority religion in Japan having some 1 million followers in a population of 126 million. Majority of Japanese, at least 90 percent, are considered Buddhist, following its different forms.

Japan is considered one of the most secularized nations in the world and has all major Christian denominations. Besides Catholics and Protestants, who together account for some 1 million Christians, the country also has other major denominations such as Orthodox, Jehovah's Witnesses and Latter-day Saints.

As of 2019 January, Japan has some 54,0496 Catholics spread across 16 dioceses.
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