Beijing (AsiaNews) - The Catholic Church in China had recorded at least 20,004 new Baptisms, with 70 percent adults, throughout the country at Easter 2014, according to a report published by Shijiazhuang-based Faith Press on its web issue of May 19.
The survey was conducted by Faith Press and the Faith Institute for Cultural Studies at Easter time. Only those who were baptized at Easter Vigil or on Easter Sunday were counted in. Some Catholics in China may choose to be baptized at Christmas, Chinese New Year or before weddings.
The survey result showed mostly the Baptisms from the open Church communities, whereas the underground side was more difficult to access, a source added.
The report also explained the difficulties of conducting the survey as bishops or priests of certain dioceses or parishes could not be reached by telecommunications, or no one from the local Churches was designated to collect data from all parishes.
Through collecting data on Baptisms, the staff members of Faith Press and the Institute found that parish priests and parishioners' awareness of the need to evangelize was high, and were willing to participate in preaching the Gospel and use different methods and ways to evangelize, the report said.
Hebei province, with the highest number of Catholics, shows Handan and Xingtai dioceses in southern Hebei, had the biggest harvest at Easter. Handan diocese had nearly 1,000 Baptisms and Xingtai diocese (3 areas) had a total of 1,481 Baptisms. Also in Hebei, Hengshui diocese and Cangzhou (Xianxian) diocese had a substantial number too.
In southern China, Wenzhou diocese had 641 new Catholics at Easter. Of the new Catholics, more than 70% were adults, and underwent systematic catechetical training for 3 to 4 months, once a week.
In Changzhi, Shanxi, the rural parishes also had 125 new adult Catholics. With the effort of catechists, at least two counties - Xin and Pingshun - without Catholics have begun to have Catholics.
The highlands of Guizhou and Yunnan provinces, southwestern China, also noted Baptisms. Guizhou had 237 new Catholics this year, higher than last year's 148 new Catholics.
According to the report, this was the seventh year the Faith Press and the Institute had surveyed various dioceses on the situation of Baptisms at Easter. In 2013, it recorded 16,000 Baptisms; and in 2012, there were 22,000 Baptisms.