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Christianity in India Today

There are 25 million Christians in India which is just below 3% of the total population of the country. This number is slightly more than the entire population of Australia and New Zealand, or slightly below the total population of Canada, or total population of several countries in Europe. There are parts of India as heavily Christian as any part of Europe or America, e.g., Kerala, Goa, Misoram. Kerala has the largest number of Christians among the states. However, in North India, the Church is represented only by small and scattered communities. Christians including Catholics, Orthodox and Protestants, form the third largest group in India. It is estimated that about 73% of the Christians in India are Catholics. The Catholic Church in India is Composed of three individual Churches -- Latin, Malabar and Malankara -- with their own independent hierarchies. Diversity of Christians is noticeable: Syrian Christians, Knanaya Christians, Goan Christians, Tamil Christians, Anglo-Indians, Naga Christians, etc. They differ in language, social customs and economic prosperity. Christians Occupy high positions: cabinet ministers, governors of states, high court judges, University vice-chancellors, top-ranking officers, etc. Christians also have been the main contributors to education in India. Their contribution in the social work is out of all proportion to their numbers.

Kerala is the cradle of Christianity in India. There the Christians play a decisive role in the fields of education, social work and even in politics. In 1959 it moved Pundit Nehru, the then Prime Minister of India, to remark (on the occasion of the dismissal of the Communist Government of Kerala) that the Christians of Kerala are a power to be counted on. 22% of the population of Kerala is Christian. In the educational field, the work of the Christians of Kerala has been noteworthy and it is due to their efforts together with that of the government and of other religious and cultural groups that Kerala became the leading state in India for literacy. Government of India, in 1990, declared that the state of Kerala is 100% literate. This is recorded in the Guinness Book.

The Apostolic Delegation of the East Indies was established in 1884. With the establishment of diplomatic relations between the Holy See and the government of India, the Apostolic Delegation was raised on 12th June 1948 to the rank of an Apostolic Internunciature. On August 22, 1967 it was raised to the level of Apostolic Nunciature. The Catholic Bishops Conference of India (CBCI), was constituted at the Metropolitans' Conference held in Madras in September 1944. There are 21 Arch bishops, 105 Bishops, 14100 priests, 62000 nuns, 3000 religious brothers, and 7600 seminarians in the Catholic Church according to recent statistics.

The Non-Catholic Thomas Christians are mainly: the Jacobites or the Syrian Orthodox Christians divided at present into two rival groups (Bava Kakshi and Metran kakshi), the Anjoorians, the Anglicans (CMS), the Marthomites, the Mellusians or Nestorians, and the St. Thomas Evangelical Church of India. There are around 6 million non-Catholics in India, including Orthodox Christians and Protestants.

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