Catholics make up only a tiny minority in Pakistan: just a little over 1% of a total population which is 96% Muslim. Generally, Christians belong to the lowest levels of society and are not even viewed as full and equal citizens by most Pakistanis. They face abuse, discrimination and even persecution, including violent attacks.
“The Asian continent, imbued with rich philosophical and religious traditions, remains a great frontier for your testimony to Christ…Let Christ turn your natural optimism into Christian hope, your energy into moral virtue, your good will into genuine self-sacrificing love! This is the path you are called to take.” Pope Francis
The number of Catholics in Asia is projected to top 170 million by 2020. In 2015, Aid to the Church in Need supported the Church in Asia greatly, which included the formation of more than 1400 seminarians. Our help is still desperately needed as Christians continue to be terrorized and harassed in China, Vietnam, Pakistan, India, Indonesia and the Philippines.
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The far northeast of India is linked to the rest of the country only by a narrow corridor of land. It is one of the poorest regions in India and an area of frequent unrest. In relative terms, the Catholic Church is quite young here. It began to spread here only around the end of the 19th century – and in many regions only in the last few decades. There are some 2 million Catholics living in this region, most of whom belong to ethnic minorities.
More and more Christians are leaving the Middle East. This exodus is affecting not only Syria and Iraq, but also Lebanon. In the quite recent past, this country was the only country of the Middle East with a Christian majority in the population, but now Christians are an ever shrinking minority.
In Northeast India, the Catholic Church is still relatively young. In 2016, she celebrated 120 years of ministry here, but in many parts of this region, Catholic missionaries were only able to enter during the second half of the 20th century. This is an isolated and underdeveloped area, marked by political unrest and conflicts, by deep poverty and many other problems. But the Church here is very much alive and vital; now there are almost 2 million Catholics in the region, while the number of vocations to the priesthood and religious life is growing.
Sheraton-Heliopolis is the name of a newer suburb of Cairo, one that did not even exist a few decades ago. The Catholic Church has established a pastoral center here, named the Diakonia Development Center, to serve the various pastoral and social needs of the Catholic parish community.