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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 Philippines

Capital : Manila
Population : 108.7 million
Catholics : 80.41 million (80.41 %)
Jurisdictions : 16 Archdioceses, 62 Dioceses, Seven Apostolic Vicariates, One Military Ordinariate
Parishes : 3393
Major Religions : Christianity 91.3%, Islam 5.5%, Others 3.2%
Christianity reached the Philippines in the 16th century with the arrival of Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan and his men in 1521.

Soon after, Spain occupied the Islands and began to teach Filipinos about the Christian faith.

In 1599, a number of tribal chieftains agreed to submit to the rule of the Spanish king and in return, the natives were introduced to Christianity and were protected from their enemies, mostly Japanese, Chinese, and Muslim pirates.

The Spanish efforts to spread Christianity in the archipelago met with several hurdles. Inadequate number of missionaries to preach to a population scattered in the islands, and the seemingly endless varieties of local languages and dialects were problems to the missioners.

By the end of 16th century, each major religious congregation working in the archipelago agreed to cover a specific area to deal with the vast dispersion of the natives.

In 1898, with the coming of the Americans, the government implemented the separation of the Church and state. It significantly reduced the political power exerted by the Church, and paved way for the growth of other religions, particularly Protestantism.

Today, the Philippines is a Christian majority country. According to the 2018 census, it has 108.7 million people, 80.41 percent of them are Christians. Most of the Christians are Catholics, making the country one of Asia's two Catholic majority nations. The other is East Timor.

Catholic religious congregations in the country are active in all levels of education and manage hundreds of secondary and primary schools as well as a number of colleges and internationally known universities.

Many Catholic bishops are also politically influential.

The Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines openly opposed Ferdinand Marcos who placed the Philippines under martial law in the 1970’s.

In 1986 the then Archbishop of Manila Jaime Sin appealed for people to oust Marcos. The people's response became what is now known as the People Power Revolution that established democracy in the country.

The Church in the Philippines is organized into 16 Archdioceses, 62 Dioceses, as well as seven Apostolic Vicariates and a Military Ordinariate.
Abra province
Diocese
Antique Province
Diocese
Bataan province
Diocese
Territorial Prelature
Batangas province
Archdiocese
Bukidnon Province
Diocese
Camarines Norte province
Archdiocese
Diocese
Catanduanes province
Diocese
Ilocos Sur Province
Archdiocese
La Union province
Diocese
Northern Samar province
Diocese
Nueva Ecija province
Diocese
Nueva Vizcaya province
Diocese
Sorsogon Province
Diocese
Zambales province
Diocese
Agusan del Norte Province
Diocese
Aklan Province
Diocese
Albay Province
Diocese
Basilan Province
Territorial Prelature
Benguet Province
Diocese
Biliran Province
Diocese
Bohol Province
Diocese
Bulacan Province
Diocese
Cagayan Province
Archdiocese
Camarines Sur Province
Diocese
Capiz
Archdiocese
Diocese
Cavite
Diocese
Cebu
Archdiocese
Cotabato Province
Archdiocese
Diocese
Davao del Norte Province
Diocese
Davao del Sur province
Archdiocese
Diocese
Davao Oriental Province
Diocese
Eastern Samar Province
Diocese
Ilocos Norte Province
Diocese
Isabela Province
Diocese
Kalinga Province
Apostolic Vicariate
Lanao del Norte Province
Diocese
Leyte province
Archdiocese
Diocese
Marinduque province
Diocese
Masbate Province
Diocese
Misamis Occidental Province
Archdiocese
Mountain Province and Ifugao
Apostolic Vicariate
Negros Occidental Province
Diocese
Negros Oriental Province
Diocese
Occidental Mindoro
Apostolic Vicariate
Oriental Mindoro Province
Apostolic Vicariate
Palawan Province
Apostolic Vicariate
Pampanga Province
Archdiocese
Pangasinan Province
Archdiocese
Diocese
Quezon Province
Diocese
Military Ordinariate
Territorial Prelature
Rizal Province
Archdiocese
Diocese
San Fernando
Diocese
San Pablo Province
Diocese
Sulu Province
Apostolic Vicariate
Surigao del Norte Province
Diocese
Western Samar Province
Diocese
Zamboanga del Norte
Archdiocese
Diocese
Zamboanga del Sur Province
Diocese
Territorial Prelature
Zamboanga Sibugay Province
Diocese
Archdiocese of Bontoc-Lagawe
Archdiocese of Caceres
Archdiocese of Cagayan de Oro
Archdiocese of Calapan
Archdiocese of Capiz
Archdiocese of Cebu
Archdiocese of Cotabato
Archdiocese of Davao
Archdiocese of Kalookan
Archdiocese of Nueva Segovia
Archdiocese of Ozamis
Archdiocese of Palo
Archdiocese of Philippines, Military
Archdiocese of San Fernando, Pampanga
Archdiocese of Tuguegarao
Archdiocese of Zamboanga
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