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Church in Malaysia

Capital : Kuala Lumpur
Population : 32.7 million
Catholics : 11,73181 (3.58%)
Jurisdictions : Three Archdioceses, Six Dioceses
Parishes : 189
Major Religions : Islam 61.3%, Buddhism 19.8%, Christianity 9.2%, Hinduism 6.3%, Chinese folk 1.3%, Unknown 1.7%, Others 0.4%
The Nestorians and Persian traders introduced Christianity to the Malacca Island in the 7th century but the Christianity began to spread in the region only with the arrival of the Portuguese in 1511.

The arrival of the Dutch 17th century and the British takeover of it in 18th century also helped Christianity in the region.

In 1511 Portuguese Admiral Afonso de Albuquerque and his team came to Malacca and captured it for its well-known spice trade. Catholic priests landed in Malacca first time in 1511 as military chaplains to the Portuguese. During the Portuguese dominance, Malacca was a stopover for missionaries working in South and Far East Asia.

Between 1545 and 1552, St Francis Xavier preached in Malacca. By 1557, Malacca was raised to a suffragan diocese. In 1641, when the Dutch occupied Malacca, the authorities suppressed Catholicism. The bishops and priests fled to Timor, which was under the Portuguese control.

By 19th century, religious congregations began to make their presence felt in the region. In 1852, the Infant Jesus Sisters (IJ) and the Institute of the Brothers of the Christian Schools (De La Salle Brothers) sailed over to set up Christian schools in major towns of Malaysia.

In 1874, the Treaty of Pangkor marked the direct British rule over the Malay states. The sultans maintained religious sovereignty. In 1881, the Mill Hill Missionaries arrived in Malaysia who worked actively with the indigenous people.

The Spanish missioners, coming mainly from the neighboring Philippines, helped the spread of Catholic Church, especially among the Kadazans in the Sabah area.

Migration, especially of the Chinese, was also an important factor in the spread of Christianity. Tamil migrants to Malaya included Catholics, Lutherans, Anglicans, and Methodists. Mar Thoma and Syrian Orthodox Churches were established in the 1930s following migration from the coast of Kerala.

The Church suffered persecutions during the Second World War and the Communist movements. During 1948-1960, the Communist insurrection was hostile to the Catholic Church.
Currently, according to the government census, Christians form 9.2 percent of the nation's 32.7 million people.

Christians, particularly Anglican, Catholic and Methodist, are known for establishing schools, now part of the government education system. Their social commitment is also expressed through work in the fields of healthcare and social services.

The Constitution of Malaysia guarantees the freedom to practise and propagate religion, which is generally respected in this multi-religious and multi-ethnic nation. However, the Constitution also bans propagation of religions other than Islam among the Muslims.

The Catholics in Malaysia, rightly 11,73181 people, are organized into nine Dioceses, including three Archdioceses.
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