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 Kuala Lumpur

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Archdiocese of Kuala Lumpur
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In a land area of 63,810 square kilometers, the diocesan territory covers four states (Selangor, Negeri Sembilan, Pahang, Trengganu) and two federal territories (Kuala Lumpur, Putrajaya).


The population is 10,489,267 as of 2009, majority of whom are ethnic Malays. There are sizable numbers of ethnic Chinese and Indians. Other minorities include Eurasians and Orang Asli (aborigines).


Malay or Bahasa Malaysia (official), English, Mandarin and other Chinese dialects, Tamil


In 1511, Malacca was conquered by the Portuguese, who in 1641 lost the territory to the Dutch who again in 1795 were forced to leave, when the British became the colonial ruler. In 1545 Francis Xavier was engaged in missionary work in Malacca, and after his death on the island of Shangchuan on Dec. 3, 1552, his body was kept for some time in Malacca before it found its final resting place in Goa.

In 1554, Dominican friars came into the country, and in 1557 the diocese of Malacca was erected as suffragan diocese of Goa.

The beginnings of the missionary activities in West Malaysia are directly connected with the persecution of the Catholic Church in Siam by King Phaja Tak who in 1779 expulsede the Apostolic Vicar Msgr. Le Bon and all Catholic priests.

In 1810, the regional major seminary could be opened on the peninsula of Penang.

In 1838, the Malaysian peninsula together with Singapore was put under the jurisdiction of the Apostolic Vicariate Ava and Pegu in Burma.

From 1840 onwards, the jurisdiction was shifted to the Apostolic Vicariate of Siam. In 1886, the Catholics living in Malacca and Singapore were put under the jurisdiction of the Bishop of Macau.

In 1888, Pope Leo XIII erected the Diocese of Malacca with the episcopal see in Singapore as suffragan diocese of Pondicherry, India.

Beginning in 1852, the Teaching Brothers of de la Salle (FSC) and the Sisters of St. Maur started their first schools in Malaysia to counter the influence of the Methodist schools. The Catholic schools became the most important instrument of the apostolate and generally helped to bolster the image and the influence of the Catholic Church among the population.

In 1953, the canonical character of the Diocese of Malacca was changed to become an archdiocese and two years later, in 1955, the Catholic hierarchy was erected in the country. The new ecclesiastical province comprised the Archdiocese of Malacca-Singapore with the suffragan dioceses of Kuala Lumpur and Penang. When Singapore left the Federation of Malaysia in 1965, a re-organization of the ecclesiastical structures became necessary.

In 1972, Kuala Lumpur was made an archdiocese with the newly founded suffragan Diocese of Melaka-Johor. Furthermore, the Archdiocese of Singapore was directly subordinated to Rome.

In 1980, the total number of Catholics in the Federation of Malaysia was 440,000 while the total population of Malaysia was 13,4 million. (Brief History with: Georg Evers, The Churches in Asia, Delhi, 2005)


The country's main international airport is located at Sepang, about 70 kilometers south of Kuala Lumpur. Other commercial airports are in Kuala Trengganu, Kuantan and Subang. The country's main seaport is Port Klang, about 50 kilometers west of Kuala Lumpur. Other seaports are Kuantan and Port Dickson. The territory has a very good road system. A 4-6 lane tollway runs along the west coast. The country's main railway line runs through Kuala Lumpur, connecting it with Singapore in the south and Thailand in the north. Several other railway lines, including a monorail, run around Kuala Lumpur and surrounding urban areas.


Equatorial (hot and wet throughout the year)


Kuala Lumpur is the economic and business center of the country. The city and its surrounding urban areas form the most industrialized and fastest-growing economic region in Malaysia. Most of the countries' largest companies have their headquarters based here. Manufacturing and heavy industries are concentrated in the west coast. Agriculture includes mainly oil palm and rubber plantations in the west-coast states of Selangor and Negeri Sembilan. Petroleum and gas are the main contributors of the economy of the eastern state of Trengganu. Timber is an important industry in the interior of Pahang state, while fisheries is important in the state's east coast. Tourism plays an important role in the economy. Tourism centers are Kuala Lumpur, Taman Negara (a national park in the north of Pahang), Cameron Highlands and Genting Highlands (both mountain resorts in the interior of Pahang) and the beaches and islands off the coasts of Pahang and Trengganu.


Several mountain ranges run along the territory, which also comprises hilly areas, valleys and plains.

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