Church in Malaysia
  • Capital:
  • Kuala Lumpur
  • Population:
  • 28 million
  • Catholic:
  • 800,000 (2.9 %)
  • Diocese:
  • 3 archdioceses, 6 dioceses
  • Major religion:
  • Islam 61.3%, Buddhism 20%, Christianity 9.2%
Nestorians and Persian traders introduced Christianity to Malacca islands in the seventh century but the Christianity began to spread in the region only with the arrival of Portuguese in 1511. The arrival of the Dutch 17 century and the British take over of it in 18 century also helped Christianity in the region.

In 1511 Portuguese Admiral Afonso de Albuquerque and his team arrived in Malacca and captured it for its well-known spice trade. Catholic priests landed in Malacca first time in 1511 as military chaplains to the Portuguese. During Portuguese dominance, Malacca was a stopover for missionaries working in South and Far East Asia.
Between 1545 and 1552, St Francis Xavier preached in Malacca. By 1557, Malacca was raised to a suffragan diocese. In 1641, when the Dutch occupied Malacca, the authorities suppressed Catholicism. The bishops and priests fled to Timor, which was under the Portuguese.

By 19the century, Religious congregations began to make their presence felt. In 1852, the Infant Jesus sisters (IJ) and the Institute of the Brothers of the Christian Schools (La Salle Brothers) sailed over to found Christian schools in major towns of Malaysia.

In 1874, the Treaty of Pangkor marked the direct British rule over the Malay states. The sultans maintained religious sovereignty. In 1881, Mill Hill Missionaries arrived to Malaysia who worked actively with the indigenous peoples.

The Spanish missioners, coming mainly from neighboring Philippines, helped the spread Catholic Church, especially in Kadazans in Sabah area.

  • Capital:
  • Kuala Lumpur
  • Population:
  • 28 million
  • Catholic:
  • 800,000 (2.9 %)
  • Diocese:
  • 3 archdioceses, 6 dioceses
  • Major religion:
  • Islam 61.3%, Buddhism 20%, Christianity 9.2%
Migration, especially of Chinese, was also an important factor in the spread of Christianity. Tamil migrants to Malaya included Catholics, Lutherans, Anglicans, and Methodists. Mar Thoma and Syrian Orthodox Churches were established in the 1930s following migration from the coast of Kerala.

The Church suffered persecutions during the Second World War and the Communist movements but maintained faith. During 1948-1960, the Communist insurrection was very hostile to the Catholic Church

Currently, according to the government census, Christians form 9.2 percent of the nation's 28 million people.

Christians, particularly Anglican, Catholic and Methodist are known for establishing schools, now part of the government education system. Their social commitment is also expressed through work in the fields of health care and social services.

The Constitution of Malaysia guarantees the freedom to practice and propagate religion, which is generally respected in this multi-religious and multi-ethnic nation. However, the Constitution also bans propagation of religions other than Islam to the Muslim community. The Catholics in Malaysia, rightly 800,000 people, are organized into nine dioceses including three archdioceses.

UCAN Directory
Dioceses
UCAN Directory

Kuala Lumpur Province

Penang Province

Sabah Province

Sarawak Province