Asian Synod



Area 252,928 sq mi
Population 20,883,000 (growth 1.9%)
Languages Pushtu, Dari Persian, Uzbek
Religions Islam 90%, 9000 Christians (various confessions)
Goverument Muslim republic since 1992
Head of State Burhanuddin Rabbani (since 1992; recognised by UN 1997)
Economy Gross product: US$ 3 billion (1989)
annual growth: 6% (1996)
inflation: 14%
foreign debt: not given
income per capita: US$ 720
trading partners: Japan, E.U. Asia

AFGHANISTAN is the only country in the world in which the Catholic Church today has no structures. The Nestorians planted Christianity here and there have been 9 bishops and dioceses in the region, including Herat (424-1310), Farah (544-1057), Kandhar, and Balkh. But this early establishment of the Church was overcome by the Muslim conquest in the 7th centuy. All inhabitants are subject fo the law of Islam. Christian missionaries are prohibited.


Area 11,640 sq mi
Population 3,760,000
Languages Armenian, Russian, Kurdish
Capital Erevan
Economy (1996) Gross product: US$ 2,752 million
annual growth: 6.0%
inflation: 5%
foreign debt: US$ 374 million
income per capita: US$ 2,260
trading partners: E.U. Middle East, Russian States


Catholics 141,000 (3.75%)
Dioceses 24
Parishes 18
Apostolic Administrator for Catholics of the Latin Rite. see in Georgia
Bishops 1 Ordinary for Armenian Catholics, E. Europe


Area33,828 sq mi.
Languages Turkish, Russian, Armenian
ReligionsIslam, Christian minority
EconomyGross product: US$ 3,601 million
Annual growth: 1.3%
Foreign debt: US$ 321 million
Income per capita: US$ 1,460
Trading partners: E.U. Turkey, Community of Independent States


There is a small Catholic community of Polish and Armenian origin near the capital. Latin rite Catholies are under the apostolic administration of the Caucasus (see in Georgia) established in 1993. Apostolic Administrator Fr Giuseppe Pasotto CSS.


Area242 sq mi.
Population600,000 (2.5% growth)
LanguagesArabic, English, Farsi, Urdu
ReligionsShi'a Muslim 70% Sunni Muslim 36%
EconomyGross prod: US$ 6.8 billion
Annual growth: 4 %
Inflation: 2 %
Foreign debt: US$ 2,713 million
Income per capita: US$ 12,000
Trading partners: Saudi Arabia, U.K., U. S., Japan, Singapore, India, Pakistan, Germany


Priests3 diocesan

Island state in the Persian Gulf. The population is Muslim. The Catholics are foreign workers, and they come under the Vicariate Apostolic of Arabia, which has its see in Abu Dhabi.


Area 57,812 sq mi.
Population117,700,000 (growth 2.2%)
LanguagesBengali, other tribal languages
ReligionsIslam 80%; Hindus 13%; Buddhist 0.6%; Christians 0.3%; Animist 0.1%
CapitalDhaka (5 million population)
Economy (1996)Gross product: US$ 28.6 billion
Annual growth: 4.7%
Inflation: 4.9%
Foreign debt: US$ 16.3 million
Income per capita: US$ 1,450
Trading partners: U.S., E.U., Asian countries

Catholics 275,000 (0.19%)
Dioceses 6
Parishes -
Cardinals/Patriarchs -
Bishops 6
Priests 211 diocesan, 120 religious
Brothers 52
Sisters 604
Seminarians 187
Catechists 998

Pope John Paul II visited Dhaka in November 1986. Bangladesh is one of the four great Muslim nations, with Indonesia, Pakistan and India. The Church is well established although small in numbers, and offers appreciated educational and health services.

BRUNEI (Daraussalam)

Area 2,252 sq mi.
Population 292,266 (3.2% growth)
Languages Malay, Chinese, English
Religions Islam, Buddhism, Christianity
Capital Bandar Seri Begawan
Government independent Sultanate
Economy (1996) Gross product: US$ 3,975 million
Annual growth: -
Inflation: 3.2%
Foreign debt: not given
Income per capita: US$ 19,500
Trading partners: Japan, Thailand, Singapore


Catholics 3,500 (2.86%)
Pastoral sees 3
Priests 1
Brothers 1
Sisters 1
Seminarians -

In 1929 missionary Fr. A. Stotter opened the first Catholic school in Kuala Belait. Since 1967, when the government suspended financial aid to the schools, the Church herself funds four institutes for boys and girls of all races and religions. With a decree dated November 21st 1997, Pope John Paul II created the Prefecture Apostolic of Brunei. Islam is the state religion, no missionaries are allowed in the country.


Area 18,360 sq mi.
Population 700,000 (growth 2.3%)
Languages Dzongkha
Religions Buddhism 75%, Hindu 25%
Capital Thimphu
Government Constitutional monarchy
Head of state King Jigme Singhye Wangchuck (since 1972)
Economy (1996) Gross product: US$ 295 billion
Annual growth: 6%
Inflation: 9%
Foreign debt: US$ 87 million
Income per capita: US$ 1,570
Trading partners: U.S., E.U., Asia, India, others


Catholics 1,000 (0.05%)
Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction under Darjeeling diocese India
Priests 1

Kingdom in the Himalayas, north-east of India. Jesuits (1963) and Salesians (1965) were invited to the country to direct schools. Salesians were expelled in February 1982 on disputed charges of proselytism. The only Catholic missionary allowed to stay in the country was Canadian Jesuit Father William Mackey who served Catholics there from 1963 until his death in 1995.

Area 70,717 sq mi
Population 10,237,000
Languages Khmer, French, English, Vietnamese
Religions Little Vehicle Buddhism is the main religion
Islam small minority, small Catholic presence
Capital Phnom Penh
Government Constitutional monarchy
Head of state King Norodom Sihanouk Varman
Economy (1996) Gross product: US$ 3.291 billion
Annual growth: 7.5%
Inflation: 10.1%
Foreign debt: US$ 2.031 billion
Income per capita: US$ 1,084
Trading partners: Asia, Singapore, Thailand, E.U.


Catholics 22,000 (0.21%) (7000 Cambodians, 15,000 Vietnamese)
Dioceses 1 Vicariate Ap., 2 prefectures Ap.
Parishes/missions 35
Cardinals/Patriarchs -
Bishops 3
Priests 27
Brothers 2
Sisters 38
Catechists 26
Episcopal Conference of Laos and Cambodia 1971

Systematic evangelization by French missionaries started about 1881. earlier efforts ended in 1688. The first mission was established by Fr Xavier Guego. A Vicariate apostolic was organised in 1899 when there were 8,000 Catholics and 2,000 catechumens in the country. Most of the foreign missionaries were expelled following the Communist take-over in 1975. Buddhism is the state religion.

Area 3,748,812 sq mi
Population 1,232,000,000
Languages Chinese, Tibetan, Mongol
Religions Confucianism, Buddhism, Taoism, Islam, Christianity
Capital Beijing
Economy (1996) Gross product: US$ 2.61 trillion
Annual growth: 9.7%
Inflation: 17.6%
Foreign debt: US$ 118.090 billion
Income per capita: US$ 2,920
Trading partners: U.S. Japan, Asia, E.U.

Catholics 10 million (1%)
Bishops 70 official, 60 not official
Priests 1,000 official, 1,000 not official
Sisters 2,000 official, 2,000 not official
Seminarians 1,000 official, 700 not official
Seminaries 24 official, 10 not official
Novices (female) 1,500 official, 1,000 not official
Novitiates 40 official, 20 not official

In 635 the Nestorian Syrian monk Alopen arrived in the Chang’an capital. Three years later, emperor Taizhong of the Tang dynasty authorised Nestorian Christians to undertake missionary activity. The Catholic Church has been present since 1260, when Franciscan Giovanni Pian del Carpine went to the court of the Great Khan in Mongolia. In 1294 another Italian Franciscan, Giovanni da Montecorvino, arrived in Khanbalik and was to become the first Archbishop of Beijing.

Challenges: Government restrictions and control on Church activity, preventing relations with universal Church, difficult relations between official and not official Communities. Because of restrictions, Chinese Bishops may not be able to attend the Synod for Asia in Rome April/May 1998.

Recent evolution:

Area 3,614 sq mi
Population 756,000
Languages Greek, Turkish, English
Religions 80% Orthodox, Catholics 1.5%
Capital Nicosia
Government North Republic of North Cyprus
South, Presidential Republic
Head of State Glafkos Clerides
Economy (1996) Gross product: US$ 8.63 billion
Annual growth: 5%
Inflation: -
Foreign debt: not given
Income per capita: US$ 3,000
Trading partners: U.S. E.U.


Catholics 11,000 (1.47%)
Dioceses 1 archdiocese (Maronite)
Parishes 13
Bishops 1 Archbishop
Priests 17 (6 diocesan 11 religious)
Brothers 7
Sisters 44
Rites Maronite, Orthodox

Christianity was preached on the island in apostolic times and has a continuous history from the fourth century. Latin and eastern rites were established but the latter prevailed and became Orthodox after the schism of 1054. Roman and Orthodox Christians have suffered under many governments, particularly during the period of Turkish dominion from the late 16th to the late 19th centuries and from differences between the 80% Greek majority and the Turkish minority. Catholics are under the jurisdiction of the archdiocese of Cyprus (of the Maronites).

Challenges: problems connected with the division of the island. There are many Catholics, Maronites particularly, on both sides of the island.


Area 5,839 sq mi
Population 854,000
Languages Arabic, English
Religions Catholicism 85%, Islam 11%
Capital Dili
Government Former Portuguese colony occupied and annexed by Indonesian army in 1975. United Nations does not recognise this situation


Catholics 726,000 (85.07%)
Dioceses 2
Parishes 30
Cardinals/Patriarchs -
Bishops 2
Priests 88 (of whom 53 religious)
Brothers 29
Sisters 249
Seminarians 125
Catechists 1618

Pope John Paul II visited Dili during his visit to Indonesia in 1989.

Challenges: The Church is concerned about the consequences of military occupation and enforcement of Muslim religion. For his efforts to foster respect for human rights Bishop Belo of Dili was awarded the Nobel peace Prize 1996.

Area 27,227 sq mi
Population 5,460,000
Languages Georgian, Russian, Armenian, Turkish
Religions Christian(Orthodox), Muslim minority
Capital Tbilisi
Economy Gross product: US$ 2.358 billion
Annual growth: -
Inflation: 13.7%
Foreign debt: US$ 1.189 billion
Income per capita: US$ 1,470
Trading partners: U.S., E.U. Russian Federation, Armenia


Catholics 100,000 (1.83%) Catholics of the Latin Rite of Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia are under the Apostolic Administration of the Caucasus established in 1993.
Apostolic Administrator Fr. Giuseppe Pasotto CSS
Parishes 25
Priests 10 (2 diocesan 8 religious)
Sisters 14
Seminarians 2


Area 408 sq mi
Population 6,191,000
Languages Chinese, English
Religions Buddhist, Taoist, Christianity, Islam, Hindu, Sikh, Jewish
Capital Hong Kong
Economy (1996) Gross product: US$ 142.3 billion
Annual growth: 4.7%
Inflation: 5%
Foreign debt: not given
Income per capita: US$ 22,950
Trading partners: U.S. Japan, E.U., China


Catholics 237,000 (3.84%)
Pastoral centers 97
Cardinals/Patriarchs 1
Bishops 2
Priests 74 diocesan, 247 religious
Brothers 85
Sisters 576
Seminarians 25
Catechists 839

Catholics were the first Christians to establish a mission here in 1841. Anglicans and Baptists came the following year , the former built St John’s Cathedral.

Challenges: to encourage the Christian population and all Hong Kong citizens to have hope even under Chinese rule.


Area 1,236,880 sq mi
Population 918,570,000 (2.1%)
Languages Hindi (official); English and 17 dialects are recognized by the constitution
Religions Hindu (83%), Muslim (11.2%) Christians (about 17 million) Sikh (1.89%) Buddhist (0.7%) small Jewish and animist groups
Capital New Delhi
Government Republic
Economy (1996) Gross product: US$ 319.66 billion
Annual growth: 6.8%
Inflation: 5.5 %
Foreign debt: US$ 93.8 billion
Income per capita: US$ 1,500
Trading partners: E.U., U.S., Asia


Catholics 16,016,000 (1.71 %)
Patriarchate 1 (titular of East Indies); 1 Major archbishopric Syro-Malabar
Eccl. Circumscriptions 135: Archdioceses of Latin Rite: 18; Dioceses of Latin Rite 91; Archdioceses major of Eastern Rite; Archdioceses of Eastern Rite 4; Dioceses of Eastern Rite 21.
Archdioceses 23
Dioceses 109
Parishes 7,247
Cardinals/Patriarchs 3, 1
Bishops 144
Priests 16,593 (9,655 diocesan, 6,938 religious)
Brothers 2,671
Sisters 73,030
Seminarians 9,525
Catechists 40,673
Rites Latin (16 archdioceses, 98 dioceses)
Syro-Malabar (2 archdioceses, 21 dioceses; 3 million members)
Syro-Malankara (1 archdiocese, 3 dioceses 300,000 members)
Bishops Conference each Rite has its own Conference since 1987
Papal Visit Pope Paul VI 1964, Pope John Paul II 1986

Long standing tradition credits the Apostle Thomas with the introduction of Christianity in the Kerala area in 52 AD. Evangelization followed the establishment of Portuguese posts and the conquest of Goa in 1510. Jesuits, Franciscans, Dominicans, Augustinians and members of other religious orders figured in the early missionary history. An archdiocese of Goa with two suffragan sees was set up in 1558. Five provincial councils were held between 1567 and 1606. The number of Catholics in 1572 was estimated to be 280,000. This figure rose to 800,000 in 1700 and declined to 500,000 in 1800. Missionaries had some difficulty with the British East India Co., which exercised virtual government control from 1757 to 1858. They also had trouble because of a conflict that developed between policies of the Portuguese government which pressed its rights of patronage in Episcopal and clerical appointments and the Congregation de Propaganda Fide, which sought greater freedom of action in the same appointments, This struggle eventuated in the schism of Goa between 1838 and 1857. In 1886 when the number of Catholics was estimated to be one million, the hierarchy for India and Ceylon was restored. Jesuits contributed greatly to the development of Catholic education from the second half of the 19th century A large percentage of the Catholic population is located around Goa and Kerala and farther south. The country is predominantly Hindu. So-called anti-conversion laws in effect in several states have had a restrictive effect on pastoral ministry and social service.

Pastoral challenges include ecumenism and interreligious dialogue.


Area 747,266 sq mi
Population 200,000,000 (growth 1.6%)
Languages Indonesian (official), Bahasa and Dutch, English
Religions Islam 86%, Christians 10% (Catholics 3.3%, Protestants 6.7%)
Capital Jakarta
Economy Gross product: US$ 225.8 billion
Annual growth: 7.8%
Inflation: 31.7%
Foreign debt: US$ 107.8 million
Income per capita: US$ 4,140
Trading partners: U.S., Japan, Asian countries


Catholics 5,194,000 (2.78 %)
Dioceses 35
Parishes 991
Cardinals/Patriarchs 1
Bishops 43
Priests 2,585 (of whom 1770 religious)
Brothers 1,100
Sisters 6,700
Seminarians 2,504
Catechists 23,631

Pope John Paul II visited Indonesia in 1989.

State/religions situation: In 1965 all citizens were asked to declare their religion. Two decrees in 1978: one prohibiting religious propaganda "to make conversions", the second affirmed the need for government permission to receive religious assistance from other countries. Despite tension and sporadic attacks on Catholic Churches and centres by Muslim extremists, dialogue with Islam continues. Another problem is that new churches may only be built where there are at least 5000 Catholics.


Area 643,750 sq mi
Population 67,280,000
Languages Farsi (Persian) Azari, Kurdish, Arabic
Religions Shi’ite Muslim 95% Sunni Muslim 4% Christians 1%
Capital Teheran
Government Republic
Head of state Mohammad Kathami
Economy Gross prod: US$ 303 billion
Annual growth: 3%
Inflation: 30%
Foreign debt: US$ 21.9 billion
Income per capita: US$ 4,780
Trading partners: Japan, Germany, Netherlands, U.K. Italy, Spain, Turkey, France


Catholics 13,000 (0,02%) Dioceses 6 Parishes 28 Cardinals/Patriarchs 1 Bishops 6 Priests 12 Brothers 1 Sisters 33 Seminarians 1 Rites Armenian, Latin, Chaldean

Challenges: discrimination by the regime leads many to move into the cities or join relations abroad.


Area 169,889 sq mi
Population 20,450,000
Languages Arabic, Kurdish
Religions Islam 95%, Christians or other 5%
Capital Baghdad
Government Socialist republic
Head of state Saddam Hussein
Economy Gross product: US$ 38 billion
Inflation: 200%
Foreign debt:
Income per capita: US$ 2000
Trading partners: Japan, Germany, U.K., Italy, Spain, Turkey, France, Brazil, U.S.

Catholics 621,000 (3.04%)
Dioceses 17
Parishes 99
Cardinals/Patriarchs 1
Bishops 14
Priests 134
Brothers 7
Sisters 333
Seminarians 49
Rites Armenian, Latin, Chaldean, Syrian

Challenges: desperate living conditions aggravated by U. N. embargo. Many Christians emigrate to escape misery and find work.


Area 8,115 sq mi
Population 5,540,000
Languages Arabic, English
Religions Judaism 82%, Islam 14%, Christians 2% and others
Capital Tel Aviv
Government Republic
Head of state Ezer Weizman
Economy Gross prod: US$ 65.7 billion
Annual growth: 3.5%
Inflation: 11.3%
Foreign debt: US$ 16.4 billion
Income per capita: US$ 13,350
Trading partners: U.S., E.U., Japan, Switzerland, Hong Kong, Canada, South Africa


Catholics 90,000 (1.63%)
Patriarchates 2
Dioceses 2
Parishes 74
Cardinals/Patriarchs 1
Bishops 4
Priests 397 (79 diocesan 318 religious)
Brothers 158
Sisters 1,036
Seminarians 118
Rites Latin, Greek Melkite
Episcopal Conference CELRA Conference of Latin Bishops in Arab Regions 1986
Relations Holy See 1994

Israel was the birthplace of Christianity and Judaism. Jerusalem is a holy city of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.

Challenges: Church in crisis of existence. Massive emigration of young people confronted with two extremes, Jewish and Muslim.


Area 147,564 sq mi
Population 124,200,000 (growth 0.3%)
Languages Japanese
Religions Shintoism and Buddhism 87%, Christians 1%
Capital Tokyo
Economy Gross product: US$ 4.597 trillion
Annual growth: -0.2%
Inflation: 1.9%
Foreign debt: not given
Income per capita: US$ 23,440
Trading partners: U.S., Asian countries, E.U.


Catholics 440,198 (0.36%)
Dioceses 16
Parishes 943
Cardinals/Patriarchs 1
Bishops 24
Priests 1,736 (of whom 603 are Religious)
Brothers 227
Sisters 6,603
Catechists 2,073

Pope John Paul II visited Japan in 1981.

Challenges: Religions in Japan welcomed the proposal launched by Pope John Paul II at the 1986 prayer meeting for peace in Assisi, Italy. Since that date interreligious meetings and events have increased in number.


Area 34,978 sq mi
Population 5,440,000
Languages Arabic/English
Religions Islam 96%, Christians 4%
Capital Amman
Government Constitutional monarchy
Head of state King Hussein
Economy (1996) Gross product: US$ 115.5 billion
Annual growth: 5%
Inflation: 5%
Foreign debt: US$ 7.994 billion
Income per capita: US$ 3,000
Trading partners: U.S., Japan, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, E.U. China, India, Iraq

Catholics 66,000 (1.21%)
Archdiocese 1 (Greek-Melkite)
Parishes 63
Archbishops 2 (1 emeritus)
Bishops 2
Priests 71 (55 diocesan 16 religious)
Brothers 9
Sisters 240
Seminarians 435
Rites Greek Melkite, Latin
Episcopal Conference CELRA Conference of Latin Bishops in Arab Regions 1986
Relations with the Holy See 1994

Challenges: rural migration and emigration. Weak church structures, out-dated pastoral methods.

Area 47,085 sq mi
Population 22,466,000
Languages Korean
Religions Buddhism, Confucianism
Capital Pyongyang
Economy Inflation: 1.3%
Foreign debt: US$ 11.600 billion
Income per capita: US$ 3,965
Trading partners: China, Japan


Catholics 10,000

Evangelization began in the 18th century when Confucian scholars became Christians after reading Christian texts found in Beijing. In 1831 Pope Leo XII created the Vicariate Apostolic of Korea. Since Korea was divided (1953) there has been little news of the situation of the Catholic community in the north. Today the Communist regime has made evangelization impossible. In Pyongyang there are only three Christian churches, one Catholic and two Protestant. Government sources say there are no Catholic priests, but there is a weekly Mass in the Catholic church attended by about 200 people.


Area 38,468 sq mi
Population 45,314,000
Languages Korean
Religions Buddhist (36.3%) Confucian (24.4%) Christians 18%
Capital Seoul
Economy Gross product: US$ 419 billion
Annual growth: 0.9%
Inflation: 4.5%
Foreign debt: US$ 93.700 billion
Income per capita: US$ 11,450
Trading partners: U.S., Canada, Asian countries

Catholics 3,000,000 (north and south Korea 7.59)%
Dioceses 14
Parishes 941
Cardinals/Patriarchs 1
Bishops 22
Priests 2,358 (dioc. Koreans 2000, foreign 105) (relig. Koreans 150, foreign 93)
Brothers 382 (363 Korean, 214 foreign)
Sisters 6,868
Catechists 6,090
Lay foreign missionaries 420
Bishops Conference One for both South and North Korea 1973

Pope John Paul II visited South Korea in May 1984 and canonised 103 Korean Martyrs and in 1989 for the closing of the 44th International Eucharistic Congress in Seoul.

Present situation: the Church in South Korea is the fourth largest in Asia for the number of Christians, following Philippines, India, and Vietnam. This local Church records the highest number of adult baptisms per year. There was a boom in conversion following the Pope’s first visit. Today the rate has slackened. The Korean Church sends numerous missionaries to other countries, former Soviet Union territories, Africa, Latin America and even French parishes without a resident priest.

Challenges: The Church works for national reconciliation and has adhered generously to the collection of funds to pay foreign loan.


Area 1,061,455 sq mi
Population 16,590,000
Languages Kazak, Russian
Religions Sunni Muslim, Orthodox, Catholics (300,000) other Christians
Capital Akmola (formerly Almata)
Gross prod: US$ 22.143 billion
Annual growth: 1.0%
Inflation: not given
Foreign debt: US$ 3.712 billion
Income per capita: US$ 3,010
Trading partners: E.U., Russian Federation

Catholics 300,000 (1.81%)
Dioceses -
Parishes -
Cardinals/Patriarchs -
Bishops -
Priests 32 diocesan, 35 religious
Brothers 1
Sisters 53
Seminarians 24
Missionaries Opus Dei is present in the university world.
In Karaganda there are 2 Communion and Liberation priests who promote cultural events

h $
Area 6,957 sq mi
Population 1,700,000 (annual growth 2%)
Language Arabic, Englis
Religions Muslim majority , Christians mostly foreign workers
Capital Al Kuwait (160000 population)
Economy Gross prod: US$ 27.592 billion
Annual growth 1,6%
Per capita income US$ 23,790
Main supplying countries : UE (46,6%), USA (23,5%), Asia (21,9%)
Main buying countries: developed countries (49.5%), Japan (23%), Asia (47,2%)

Catholics 152,000 (9.14%)
Parishes 4
Vicar Apostolic 1
Priests 9 (5 diocesan, 4 religious)
Brothers 4
Sisters 12

Origins: Ancient Christian origin probably dates to Apostolic times. Kuwait is a Vicariate apostolic.


Area 77,539 sq mi
Population 4,670,000
Languages Kyrgyz and Russian
Religions Sunni Muslim, Orthodox Christian
Capital Bishkek
Economy Gross prod: US$ 3.158 billion
Annual growth: 5.6%
Inflation: not given
Foreign debt: US$ 610 million
Income per capita: US$ 1,800
Trading partners: E.U., China, former Soviet territories


Catholics 26,000 (0.56%)
Missio sui juris Created in December 1997, entrusted to Jesuits
Priests 1 diocesan + 4 religious
Brothers 1


Area 92,500 sq mi
Population 5,035,000
Languages Laotian, French, English, local dialects
Religions Little vehicle Buddhism 90%
Capital Vientiane
Government Peoples democratic republic
Head of state M. Nouhak Phoumsavanh
Economy Gross prod: US$ 1.916 billion
Annual growth: 6 %
Inflation: 6.2 %
Foreign debt: US$ 2.165 billion
Income per capita: US$ 1,775
Trading partners: U.E. Asia, Thailand


Catholics 42,114 (0.73)
Vicariates Ap 4
Parishes 31 + 81 mission stations
Bishops 4
Priests 23 (17 diocesan, 6 religious)
Brothers 1
Sisters 94
Catechists 133
Bishops Conference of Laos and Cambodia 1971

The situation of Catholics varies according to region. In the north the Church is truly a Church of silence. In the rest of the country life is not easy either: bishops, priests and sisters share the work of villagers; schools, dispensaries have been closed and sisters work in villages. Catechists and other lay Catholics play an important role. Interreligious dialogue advances, Laotians respect the beliefs of others.


Area 1,568 sq mi
Population 3,010,000
Languages Arabic, French, English
Religions Islam 60% Christians 40% (17 recognised sects) Judaism minority
Capital Beirut
Government Republic
Head of state Elias Hrawi (Maronite Catholic)
Economy Gross prod: US$ 6.1 billion
Annual growth: 4.2%
Inflation: 35%
Foreign debt: US$ 2.966 billion
Income per capita: US$ 1,720
Trading partners: U.S., Western Europe, Arab countries


Catholics 1,000,000 (30%)
Circumscriptions 24
Parishes 1,078
Cardinals/Patriarchs 3
Bishops 42
Priests 1,407 (730 diocesan 677 religious)
Brothers 126
Sisters 2,824
Seminarians 435
Rites Armenian, Maronite Chaldean Greek Melkite

Pope John Paul II visited Lebanon in 1997

Challenges: Problems connected with the consequences of long years of war. In politics Christians are pushed aside because of their opposition to Syrian interference in Lebanon.


Area 6 sq mi
Population 440,000 (growth 3.8%)
Languages Chinese, Portuguese, English
Religions Buddhism, Taoism, Catholics 6.5%
Capital Macao
Government Portuguese colony until 1999, (when it returns to China) under a Legislative Assembly
Economy Gross prod: US$ 6.5 billion
Annual growth: -0.3%
Inflation: 3.3%
Foreign debt: not given
Income per capita: US$ 17,500
Trading partners: U.S., Asia, China, E.U.


Catholics 22,000 (5.34%)
Pastoral centers 13
Bishop 1
Priests 31 diocesan 38 religious
Brothers 9
Sisters 158

In 1557 Portuguese missionaries landed in Macao which soon became a base for missionary work in Japan in China. The diocese of Macao was created in 1576 as a suffragan of Goa archdiocese with jurisdiction over Japan and China.

Challenges: preparing for return under China


Area 128,419 sq mi
Population 19,732,587 (growth 2.4%)
Languages Malay, Chinese, Indian languages, English
Religions Islam, Hindu, Buddhist, Confucian, Taoist, Christianity
Capital Kuala Lumpur
Economy Gross prod: US$ 141.000 billion
Annual growth: 7.4%
Inflation: 4.4%
Foreign debt: US$ 34.352 billion
Income per capita: US$ 9,850
Trading partners: U.S., Asia, Singapore


Catholics 622,026 (3.16%)
Dioceses 10
Parishes 1,121
Bishops 10
Priests 175 diocesan 51 religious
Brothers 74
Sisters 514
Seminarians 78
Catechists 1,490

In 1511 the first Portuguese missionaries reached Malaysia. Saint Francis Xavier worked in Malacca which became a diocese 1557.

Challenges: it is difficult for the Church to enter into the Malay environment. It is hindered by the Constitution.


Area 116 sq mi
Population 263,000 (growth 3%)
Languages Sinhalese dialect, English
Religions Islam
Capital Male
Economy Gross prod: US$ 251 million
Annual growth: 2.6 %
Inflation: 5.5%
Foreign debt: US$ 155 million
Income per capita: US$ 2,645
Trading partners: U.S., Asia, E. U.

No serious attempt was ever made to evangelize the area which is completely Muslim

Statistics are from the April 17 edition of FIDES. Maps are from National Geographic.


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