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 Korea

Capital : Seoul
Population : 51 million (South Korea)
Catholics : 5.6 million (11 %)
Jurisdictions : Three Archdiocese, 14 dioceses, One Military Ordinariate, One Abbey Territory
Parishes : 1728
Major Religions : Christianity 26%, Buddhism 26%, Confucian 1%
Christianity in Korea began as an indigenous lay movement. Korean Yi Seung-hun, who was baptized in China in 1784, began to baptize others in that year. As their faith began to spread, Catholics faced persecution and hardships from the rulers who viewed the religion as a subversive influence.

During 1801, several Catholics were killed including Korea's first priest Father James Zhou Wen-mo, who was sent there by the Beijing diocese in 1794. Rulers began to see Catholicism as a false religion that denies the Confucian ethics and invites the western imperialism to the country. The largest persecution in 1866 produced some 8,000 martyrs.

The persecution officially ended in 1886 with the signing of a treaty with France. But by 1910 Japan colonized Korea. Korea was liberated in 1945 when the Allied Forces defeated Japan, but was soon divided into North and South Koreas.

Catholics in the Communist North Korea were met with oppression again, and most of them fled to the South. North Korea revived religions in 1988 with building the Changchung Catholic Church in Pyongyang without any resident priest.

Also it claims some 3,000 Catholics, but the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Korea officially sees no local Catholic there, prohibiting South Korean priests from saying any Mass for the self-professed North Korean Catholics. Since the Korean War (1950-53) bishops in South Korea have been the apostolic administrators for the three dioceses there.

Catholicism in South Korea has been growing. As of 2019, it has 5.6 million Catholics among 51 million population. Its rapid growth is attributed mostly to its contribution to the country's democratization from military dictatorships in 1970s-80s.

The Church in Korea has three Archdioceses, 14 Dioceses and a Military Ordinariate.
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