Catholicism Increasingly Popular Amongst Urban Youth

February 22, 2006

Source: The Christian Science Monitor

On February 22, 2006 The Christian Science Monitor reported, "New churches are mushrooming in this corner of northern Vietnam where Catholicism has sunk deep roots. Fr. [Peter] Phuc is amazed at the rapid growth. 'In the past 10 years, almost every year a new church is built. I can't keep track,' he says. Religion is still a sensitive subject in Vietnam. The US accuses it of violating the rights of believers, particularly ethnic minority Christians in rural highlands. Vietnamese officials say they respect religious freedoms and point to recent legislation that bans forced conversions and gives equal protection to all faiths. 'Vietnamese citizens have the freedom to choose their religion. All religions are equal under the law,' says Nguyen Thi Bach Thuyet, a member of the Government Committee for Religious Affairs. Of the six official religions recognized by Vietnam, Catholicism ranks second behind Buddhism. It has between 5 million and 7 million followers, concentrated mostly in the south, and is reportedly becoming more popular among young urban Vietnamese who are enjoying the fruits of the country's rapid economic growth."