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Explore the Oldest Dioceses in South Asia

Cardinal Cheong

The cathedral of the first diocese in India.

It is believed that Christianity was introduced to India by Thomas the Apostle,
who is said to have reached the Malabar Coast of Kerala in 52 AD.

Christian communities developed and expanded further when
Portuguese missionaries arrived in the 13th and 14th centuries.

History of a few oldest dioceses in India as the cradle of Indian Christianity
can be dated back to the 15th century.

Find out which is the first diocese in India here.

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Church in Vietnam

Capital : Hanoi
Population : 95.54 million
Catholics : 6.74 million (6.6 %)
Jurisdictions : Three Archdioceses, 24 Dioceses
Parishes : 3073
Major Religions : Folk 73.2%, Buddhism12.2%, Christianity 8.3%, Caodaism 4.8%, Hoahaoism 1.4%, Others 0.1%
Christianity was introduced in Vietnam in the 16th century by the European missioners. However, mission activities gained strength only with the arrival of French Jesuit Father Alexandre de Rhodes in the 1620’s. The Franciscans and the Dominicans followed the Jesuits in the same decade.

Missioners, including Father Rhodes, created alphabets for the Vietnamese language from the Latin script and in 1651 they printed some Catholic texts and a dictionary for the first time in Vietnamese.

French missioners played a key role towards the end of the 18th century, when some of them politically helped Nguyan Ánh to conquer Vietnam and declare himself Emperor Gia Long in 1802. Nguyan tolerated the Catholic faith of his French friends and allowed unhindered mission activities. But that situation changed to an era of persecution after his death in 1820.

However, the influence the French in the trade and politics of Vietnam culminated in Vietnam becoming a French colony in 1887. The colonial rule continued until Vietnam's independence in 1954.

Protestantism was introduced in 1911 at Da Nang by a Canadian missionary, Dr. R.A. Jaffray. Some estimates say majority Protestants are ethnic tribal people.

Rights groups say Christians, especially from hilly areas, are still seen as "enemies" and targeted as "agents of America". They are reportedly arrested, tortured and starved behind the bars, despite the official claims of freedom of religion.

The government closely watches Christian communities and foreign missioners are legally not allowed to preach or perform any religious activities without government permission.

According to 2016 estimates, Vietnam has some 95.54 million people, 6.6 percent of them are Christians. According to Catholic Bishops' Conference of Vietnam, there were 6,745,823 Catholics in the country in 2016.

In 1960, the Catholic hierarchy was established in Vietnam and has 27 Dioceses, including three Archdioceses.
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