Friday, November 30, 2007

Roman Catholic dioceses

While I focus on the civil subdivisions in this blog, there are more divisions of the country. The Roman Catholic church has a very formal territorial organization into ecclesiastical provinces, dioceses, and down to parishes. Probably the best website dealing with these subdivisions worldwide is Catholic Hierarchy, with updates posted in a special blog almost daily.

The Catholic Church in Thailand is a very minority church with only 0.5% of the population being catholic - the country is of course predominately Buddhist. But even though there are just about 300,000 Catholics in the country, the church has subdivided the country into two ecclesiastical provinces with ten dioceses altogether. Each of the diocese have one church designated as a cathedral, like the one of Ratchaburi depicted. Almost all of the diocese are aligned with the boundaries of the civil provinces, with one notable exception. The diocese of Chanthaburi is separated by the archdiocese of Bangkok by the Bang Pa Kong river, and also covers the whole Nakhon Nayok province except the district Ban Na. This oddity gets understandable when one checks the history of Nakhon Nayok province. The province was abolished in 1943, and Ban Na assigned to Saraburi, while the other districts were assigned to Prachinburi. The province was recreated in 1946. And in 1944, while the province did not exist, the apostolic vicariate of Chanthaburi was created, using the then existing civil boundaries. I only don't know why the Bang Pa Kong river was used as the boundary, maybe the elongated shape of Chachoengsao province and some catholic settlements west of the river were the root of this, but that's just my speculation.

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