PH tops Vatican list with most baptized children

THE Philippines topped the Vatican’s list of countries with the most baptized young children or those below seven-years old, according to the latest Statistical Yearbook of the Catholic Church.

The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), citing a report by the Catholic News Service (CNS), also said that the Philippines also ranked third in the world with the most baptized Catholics.

The CNS is an American news agency owned by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), CBCP’s counterpart in the US.

According to the Vatican’s yearbook, the Philippines, the lone Catholic country in Asia, recorded more than 1.6 million baptisms of children under the age of 7 at the end of 2019.

Rounding up the top five are Mexico with more than 1.48 million, Brazil, 1.05 million; US, 595,286; and Columbia, 442,396.

Overall, the Philippines ranks third among the top five countries with the most baptized Catholics.

The figures showed Brazil had 177 million baptized Catholics in 2019; Mexico had 115.5 million; the Philippines had 89 million; the US had almost 74 million; and Italy had 57.8 million.

The Catholic yearbook or Annuario Pontificio was released in March. Its figures on every Vatican office, as well as every diocese and religious order in the world have been validated as of Dec. 31, 2019.

Worldwide, the number of Catholics has increased by 16 million in a year to 1.34 billion, holding steady at about 17.7 percent of the global population.

The growth was also spread across continents except Europe.

In 2019, 48.1 percent of the world’s Catholics were living in the Americas, followed by Europe with 21.2 percent, Africa with 18.7 percent , about 11 percent in Asia and 0.8 percent in Oceania.

Six centuries ago or April 14, 1521, Cebu chieftain Datu Humabon, and 800 of their followers were baptized Catholics by Fr. Pedro de Valderrama.

The baptism came a week after the arrival of the Spanish expedition led by Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan on Cebu island.