China’s dioceses have reported over 22,000 Catholic baptisms this Easter, and additional statistics remain to be reported. According to the Hebei Study Center of Faith, roughly 75% of these baptisms were adults, though infant baptisms are also on the rise. The Diocese of Shanghai reported 379 baptisms during the Easter Vigil Mass, but expects around 1,500 for 2012. This is an extraordinarily large number of people entering the Church compared to past years, especially in light of recent reports of hardline strategies to impose restrictive measures on Catholic activities in China. There were only three million Chinese Catholics in 1949 when Chairman Mao Zedong proclaimed the founding of the People’s Republic of China. Today there are an estimated twenty to thirty million Catholics, and Church authorities there look optimistically to an even larger increase in coming years of catechumens and new members of the Body of Christ.
Here are photos of baptisms that took place in the Beijing West Church.