Catholic church flourishing beyond expectations in Asia

A new study shows the Catholic church is flourishing beyond expectations in Asia with ordinations well in excess of international averages.

As an example, although there are only 750,000 Catholics in Myanmar, the Church in the Southeast Asian country ordained 83 new priests last year.

At the same time, only 19 new priests were ordained in Belgium, according to a new study by Georgetown University’s Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA).

CARA found that after Burma, Thailand had the next highest ratio of new priests, followed by Togo, Vietnam and Bangladesh.

Just three percent of Asians are Catholic and only two of Asia’s 48 countries are majority Catholic: the Philippines and East Timor.

The overall picture may however change.

“The future of the Church is in Asia,” Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila said to Pope Francis.

Countries with sizeable Catholic minorities, like India and South Korea, are already sending missionaries abroad.

Both the United States and Great Britain’s contributions to the priesthood were far ahead of traditionally Catholic nations, coming in 50th and 49th out of 108.

Catholic-majority countries like Spain came in 73rd, Germany 75th, Ireland 78th, Argentina 98th and France 99th.

Once solidly-Catholic Belgium came last.

CARA based the rankings on the most recent figures for priestly ordinations and Catholic population data for 2017 from the Vatican’s Annuarium Statisticum Ecclesiae.

The researchers included only countries that had at least 100,000 Catholics.

Without the 100,000 Catholics requirement, Nepal would have come first. Other nations such as Samoa, Niger, Liechtenstein, Denmark, Kosovo, Kiribati and Fiji would also have featured prominently.


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