Church in Myanmar
Capital : Naypyidaw
Population : 53.5 million
Catholics : 661876 (1.24%)
Jurisdictions : Three Archdioceses,13 Dioceses
Parishes : 386
Major Religions : Theravada Buddhism 87.9%, Christianity 6.2%, Islam 4.3%, Other 1.6%
The first evidence of Christian presence in Myanmar is in the 13-century frescos with crosses, and Latin and Greek writings found in some places in Bagan area, the former Bagan kingdom located in the Mandalay Region.

After the Portuguese established sea route to Asia in 1498 and settled in Goa, southwestern India, missioners set out for Evangelization in Far East. Some records say in 1550 a French Franciscan priest, Bonferre, went on a Portuguese ship from Goa to Bagan (Myanmar) and the Siamese (Thailand) in the East. In 1548 St. Francis Xavier wrote letters about the need of sending missioners to Pegu. But nothing is heard later about these initiatives.

Portuguese mercenary Filipe de Brito Nicote established Portuguese-backed rule in Thanlyin in 1603, which helped Catholic missioners to come to the area. But ten years later a local king defeated Brito, resulting in the end of the mission.

In 1722, the Vatican reestablished the mission assigning Bernabite priests, who secured the freedom to preach after many difficulties. Following them, priests from the congregation of Oblates of Pinerolo came but they abandoned the mission in 1852 after the British annexed Pegu following a bloody war.

For some time, the mission was under the care of Vicar Apostolic of Siam but in 1806, the Propaganda Fide divided Myanmar in to three Vicaritates-- Northern Burma, Southern Burma, and Eastern Burma. While northern and southern vicariates were entrusted to the care of priests of Missions Etrangères of Paris (MEP), the eastern vicariate was put under the Milan Seminary of Foreign Missions. Priests of these congregations were already working in the region.

Protestant groups began to appear in the 19th century and flourished under the British colonial rule.
Missioners -- catholic and Protestant – built up outstanding educational system and institutions to help the poor and needy in the villages and towns of the country. But the 1962 coup that installed a military junta changed the scene. The junta banned clergy and religious from teaching in them, and deported foreign missionaries.

The current constitution of the Union of Myanmar asserts freedom of religion but reports say Catholic citizens are routinely denied better-paying administrative jobs and barred from what little social services the government provides. They are also prohibited from building new churches.

The country has an estimated at 53.5 million people (in 2019) and 87.9 percent of them are Buddhists. Of the 6.2 percent Christians, Catholics are just 1.24 percent.

The Catholics are organized into 16 dioceses, including 3 archdioceses.
The Union of Catholic Asian News (UCA News, UCAN) is the leading independent Catholic news source in Asia.
Union of Catholic Asian News Limited
P.O. Box 69626,
Kwun Tong,
Hong Kong