48,000 Catholic baptisms in China last year

The China-based Faith Institute for Cultural Studies says there were about 48,000 Catholic baptisms last year in the People’s Republic.

The institute says it gathered the data from 104 Catholic dioceses recognised by the Chinese authorities.

These dioceses are scattered in over 30 national provincial divisions.

In common with previous years, the research found the largest number of new Catholics baptised (almost 13,000) was concentrated in the Chinese province of Hebei.

The institute points out, however, that the data on the baptisms are partial and approximate.

The data do not manage to take into account baptisms celebrated in Catholic communities in the most isolated regions.

Nor do the data cover the baptisms administered in the Chinese-called “underground” communities (ie those not registered with the Chinese apparatus that applies the governmental religious policy).

In addition, the institute reported on baptisms celebrated in Catholic communities in regions where Muslim populations and ethnic minority groups are found. Tibet, for example, had just eight baptisms last year.

The data from the institute has provided a year-by-year record since 2000.

This shows a fluctuating trend, with a growth recorded until 2010, and a significant decline that would have marked the years from 2010 to 2015.

These numbers have since picked up, with nearly 50,000 baptisms being recorded in 2017 as well as 2018.

This indicates a new trend reversal when compared to the declining trend of the five-year period 2010-2015.

Commenting on the numbers collected on the new Catholics baptised in 2017, the institute’s leaders described the proclamation of the Gospel in China as “a long and difficult path to carry out “.

To get around this, they have invited all communities to improve the collection of data on the sacraments celebrated and to keep their archives and parish registers up to date.

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