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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Archdiocese of Tokyo

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Archdiocese of Tokyo
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In a land area of 7,349 square kilometers, the diocesan territory covers Tokyo and Chiba prefectures.


In Tokyo and Chiba prefectures, the population is 19,889,238 at end of 2017. Most residents are ethnic Japanese. There are also 585,211 non-Japanese people in the territory, according to the Immigration Bureau of Japan.


In 1846 the vicariate apostolic of Japan was entrusted to the Paris Foreign Mission Society. However, due to the proscription of Christianity at that time, missionaries were unable to enter the country. In 1858, after the port cities of Nagasaki, Yokohama, Hakodate and others opened, the first members of the Paris Foreign Mission Society entered Japan and began missionary work.

On May 22, 1876, the vicariate apostolic of Japan was divided into the vicariate apostolic of Southern Japan and the vicariate apostolic of Northern Japan. The vicariate apostolic of Northern Japan, with Yokohama as center, had the jurisdiction of the Chubu, Kanto, and Ou regions, as well as of Hokkaido.

In 1891, the vicariate apostolic of Northern Japan was further divided into the dioceses of Tokyo (June 15) and Hakodate (April 17), and Tokyo was elevated to the status of an archdiocese. Archbishop Pierre Osouf, M.E.P., became the first ordinary of the Tokyo archdiocese. His jurisdiction included the seven prefectures of the Kanto region and the nine prefectures of the Chubu region.

On Aug. 13, 1912, with the establishment of the prefecture apostolic of Niigata, the three prefectures of Toyama, Ishikawa, and Fukui, and again on Feb. 18, 1922, with the establishment of the prefecture apostolic of Nagoya, the two prefectures of Aichi and Gifu were all entrusted to the Society of the Divine Word.

On Nov. 9, 1937, with the transferral of the archdiocese of Tokyo from the care of the Paris Foreign Mission Society to the care of Japanese clergy, all the other regions, except for Tokyo and Chiba, were transferred to the diocese of Yokohama. Father Tatsuo Doi was consecrated the first native archbishop, and became archbishop of Tokyo.

On March 28, 1960, Archbishop Doi became the first Japanese cardinal. On May 8, 1966, Father Seiichi Shirayanagi was consecrated as auxiliary bishop of Tokyo. On Nov. 15, 1969, Bishop Shirayanagi was appointed coadjutor with right of succession, and on Feb. 5, 1970 Father Fumio Hamao was appointed auxiliary bishop of Tokyo. When Cardinal Doi died in office on Feb. 21, 1970, Bishop Shirayanagi succeeded him as archbishop of Tokyo.

On Jan. 15, 1980, Bishop Hamao became bishop of Yokohama, and on Dec. 3, 1984 Father Kazuhiro Mori was appointed auxiliary bishop of Tokyo. He was consecrated on Feb. 23 of the following year.

Pope John Paul II named Archbishop Shirayanagi a cardinal in November 1994.

Cardinal Shirayanagi retired due to health reasons on June 12, 2000. Bishop Mori also tendered his resignation, which was accepted.

On the same day, June 12, 2000, Bishop Takeo Okada of Urawa was named as the cardinal's successor and became archbishop. He was installed as the head of the archdiocese on Sept. 3, 2000.

On Nov. 29, 2004, Father Kazuo Koda was appointed auxiliary bishop of Tokyo and was consecrated on Feb. 19, 2005. He is the first auxiliary bishop of Tokyo since Bishop Kazuhiro Mori retired in June 2000. (Catholic Bishops' Conference of Japan, 2010)


The diocesan area is very well connected by airplaines, railways, ships and buses.


Throughout Japan, literacy is 99 percent, acording to the Central Intelligence Agency, USA, 2010.

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