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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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Diocese of Macau

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Diocese of Macau
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Established in 1576, Macau is the first diocese in the Far East and has been the gateway of missionaries entering mainland China in the 19th century. The first bishop was Jesuit Melchior Carneiro. Over centuries of development, more than 100 dioceses have become independent from Macau diocese.

Since the enclave came under the rule of Portugal in 1557, Portuguese and Chinese Catholics have rarely mixed in the 452-year-old Macau diocese, reflecting their segregation in society due to differences in language and culture.

Macau-born Portuguese, many of whom can speak the Cantonese dialect fluently, and Portugal-born Portuguese constitute some 3,690 or 18 percent of the 20,138 Catholics here, according to 1997 diocesan statistics. The number has dropped from 6,659 in 1994 to 3,690 in 1997, or about 45 percent, as many people, especially the Portuguese, have emigrated or returned to Portugal before Macau's handover to China on Dec. 20, 1999.

On the other hand, local Chinese accounts for over three-quarters of the Catholic population and English-speaking and Filipino minorities make up the rest on this special administrative region of 21 square kilometers.

Language

Chinese and Portuguese are the official language of Macau. Mandarin Chinese and the Cantonese dialect are both spoken language in use as there are more mainlanders residing or traveling to Macau today.

Industries

Gaming industry and tourism are the major revenue of the special administrative region government. Many local people also rely on the two industries for a living. Since the government has relaxed the gaming franchise, construction industry has also taken a prominent place as more casino and hotels are being built.

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