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How Many Catholics in China?


Last weekend I had the privilege of attending the 25th National Catholic China Conference at Loyola University in Chicago. The United States Catholic China Conference sponsored the conference and the theme was "The American Catholic Church and China in an Era of Globalization."

I was invited to the conference to be part of a panel on the Protestant Church, and to represent the work of ChinaSource. I attended nearly all of the session and learned a lot from the wonderful speakers and other participants. Going into the conference I knew that my knowledge on the Catholic Church in China was limited, but I didn't know how limited it was! Every session was a gold mine of information, insight, and encouragement.

Among other things, I picked up some interesting statistics. One of the documents we received included a profile of the Chinese Catholic Church. Here are some of the highlights:

  • There are an estimated 12,000,000+ Catholics.
  • There are 138 dioceses.
  • There are 6,000+ churches.
  • There are 107 bishops/auxiliaries.
  • There are 3200+ priests.
  • There are 36 major seminaries.
  • There are 1460 seminarians.

In addition, Catholic churches in China are engaged in the following service ministries:

  • 34 social service centers
  • 136 clinics
  • 8 hospitals
  • 53 homes for the elderly
  • 9 orphanages
  • 20 centers for lepers
  • 43 kindergartens
  • 175 schools.

If you're interested in learning more about the Catholic Church in China, a good place to start is the website of the US China Catholic Bureau. For an introduction to where the Catholic Church fits in the broad picture of religion in China, see Tony Lambert's article, "Religious Statistics in China."

Image Credit: Joann Pittman

Joann Pittman

Joann Pittman

Joann Pittman is senior vice president of ChinaSource and editor of ZGBriefs. Prior to joining ChinaSource, Joann spent 28 years working in China, as an English teacher, language student, program director, and cross-cultural trainer for organizations and businesses engaged in China. She has also taught Chinese at the University... View Full Bio