Catholic church in Beijing (World Watch Monitor)

Almost 50,000 Catholic baptisms were recorded in mainland China last year, reports Catholic news agency Fides.

The 48,556 recorded baptisms “reflect the vitality and the missionary dynamism of a community that fully lives faith”, Fides said, adding that the actual number of people baptised may be even higher, because of the difficulty of collating data from rural areas.

The most baptisms took place in Hebei province (11,899), according to the Faith Institute for Cultural Studies, which published the figures. Hebei, a Catholic heartland, has consistently topped the list, Fides added.

Beijing archdiocese recorded 1,099 baptisms, while the Muslim-majority region of Xinjiang registered 66. Baptisms were even recorded in remote communities such as the southern island of Hainan (38) and Buddhist-majority Tibet (11).

“In spite of the encouraging figures and the great missionary commitment in local communities throughout China, we must always feel called to a renewed missionary commitment,” the Faith Institute’s commentary noted, adding: “Evangelisation in China is a long and difficult path to carry out.”

The institute urged all of China’s Catholic communities to record accurate data as a means “to see the growth of the Church and the work of evangelisation accomplished by Christ”.