The Catholic Church in Thailand and Japan

The flags of Thailand and Japan the two countries Pope Francis will visit later this month

Prior to Pope Francis’s Apostolic Visits abroad the Vatican publishes information with regard to the presence of the Catholic Church in the countries that will receive His Holiness. The Pontiff will be visiting Thailand and Japan from the 19th to the 26th of this month.

The Catholic Church Central Office of Staistics, last Friday issued the latest statistics for these two countries updated till the end of 2017.


This country has a population of 65.5 million persons but the Catholics are only 389,000. There are 11 dioceses comprising 502 parishes and another 566 pastoral centres. This means that for every pastoral centre there are 365 catholics.

As of September of this year, there were 16 Bishops in Thailand helped by 523 diocesan priests and 312 religious priests. There are also 123 religious non priests, 1,461 nuns, 57 members of secular institutes, 221 lay missionaries and 1,901 cathecists.

These numbers mean that in Thailand there are 466 Catholics for each priest but less than one priest for every pastoral centre.

There are 306 youths preparing for priesthood in major seminaries and another 771 students in the country’s seminaries.

The Catholic Church in Thailand has or manages 253 kindergartens and primary schools; 163 middle and secondary schools and 10 higher secondary schools or universities.

These educational institutes offer education to 319,515 children at kindergarten and primary level, 147,034 pupils in middle and secondary schools and 22,149 students at higher or university level.

As for charitable and social centres that are owned or managed by the Catholic Church in Thailand, one will find: 4 hospitals, 8 mobile clinics, 26 houses hosting senior citizens, disabled people or minors; 115 orphanages, 7 family centres, 11 special education and social centres and 19 other institutions.


Japan is a bigger  country than Thailand. With a population of 126.7 million, the Catholics are 536,000, scattered in 16 dioceses with 859 parishes and 102 pastoral centres which translates to 558 Catholics for every pastoral centre.

29 Bishops are responsible to manage the Catholic Church in Japan.  They are helped by 511 diocesan priests and 896 religious priests and 29 permanent deacons. There are also 173 religious non priests and 4,976 nuns. The members of secular institutes number 174 with only 5 lay missionaries and 1,307 cathecists.

Thus, in Japan there are 381 Catholics for every priest and almost 1.5 priests for every patoral centre.

Vocations are very low.  In fact there are only 80 youths preparing for priesthood and just 33 students in a minor seminary.

The Catholic Church runs 575 kindergartens and primary schools, 183 middle and secondary schools and 57 higher secondary institutions or universities.

There are 83,517 children in kindergartens and primaries, 67,508 students in middle and secodary schools and 53,310 in Catholic higher education institutions or universities.

The Church in Japan owns or manages 29 hospitals and 10 mobile clinics, 274 Homes hosting seniour citizens, disabled persons or minors, 236 orphanages, 3 family centres, 21 special education centres and another 33 institutions.