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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 Mongolia

Capital : Ulaanbaatar
Population : 3.2 million
Catholics : 1222
Jurisdictions : One Apostolic Prefecture
Parishes : Six
Major Religions : Buddhism 53%, Non-religious 38.6%, Islam 3%, Shamanism 2.9%, Christianity 2.2%, Others 0.4%
Catholicism was first introduced in Mongolia in the 13th century during the Mongol empire, but died out with the demise of the Yuan dynasty in 1368. New missionary activity started after the Second Opium War in the mid-19th century. A mission was founded for Outer Mongolia, giving Mongolia its first Catholic jurisdiction, but it ceased to function within a year when a Communist regime came to power.

With the introduction of democracy in 1991, Catholic missionaries returned and rebuilt the Church from scratch. The Congregation of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (CICM) sent its priests to accomplish this mission once the Vatican established diplomatic relations with Mongolia in 1992.

By 1996, Scheut Father Wince Padilla and 150 parishioners were present at the dedication of the first Catholic church in Mongolia. In 1997, the first papal nuncio to Mongolia was named. The new Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul in Ulaanbaatar is built in the traditional Mongolian style.

A Mongolian version of the Catholic Bible was printed mid-2004; it is done in traditional Mongolian writing style and includes common Catholic prayers. The mission runs a kindergarten, English classes, a technical school, soup kitchens, two farms, and a care center for 120 disabled children. The Verbist Center has also taken in 120 street children who had previously been living in Ulaanbaatar's sewer system. A fourth parish was founded in 2007 in Darhan, Mongolia's second-largest city.

There are now 54 missionaries from various countries helping the Church. The arrival of Christian missionaries has been notable since the fall of Communism, and Catholicism grew from no adherents in 1991 to over 600 in 2006, including about 350 native Mongolians.

There are around 1,222 Catholics in the country who are served by three churches in the capital Ulaanbaatar.
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