Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Sandro Magister

3/11/2013 (1 year ago)

Chiesa (chiesa.espresso.repubblica.it)

The cardinals who will enter into conclave Tuesday are aware of this. In the new century - if not already - an American pope will no longer be a surprise.

It will be a Church with two thirds of the faithful in the southern hemisphere. With more Catholics in Manila than in Holland. With the West in a decline of faith. And with the United States at the center of the new geography

Empty chair of Peter

Empty chair of Peter

Highlights

By Sandro Magister

Chiesa (chiesa.espresso.repubblica.it)

3/11/2013 (1 year ago)

Published in Europe

Keywords: Catholic, Church, Conclave, new pope, election, papal election, American Pope, Sandro Magister


ROME, Italy (Chiesa) - The pope whom the cardinals are preparing to elect will guide a Church that over the past century has experienced the most impetuous numeric growth of its history, and at the same time a very strong change in its geographic dislocation. With the United States as the focal point of the shift.

Catholics were and remain one sixth of the global population. They were and remain half of all Christians. But in absolute numbers they have quadrupled. In 1910 they were 291 million. In 2010 1.1 billion.

What is most arresting, however, is the geographical revolution. This has been presented by the Washington-based Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life in a recent survey:

The Global Catholic Population

A century ago, 70 percent of Catholics lived in Europe and North America. Today just 32 percent, less than one third of the total.

More than two thirds of Catholics today therefore live in Latin America, in Africa, in Asia and Oceania.

In Latin America, they have grown in one century from 70 million to 425 million.

In Asia and Oceania from 14 million to 131 million.

The most astonishing increase has been in sub-Saharan Africa. Catholics were just 1 million in 1910. A hundred years later 171 million. In one century they have gone from less than one percent to 16 percent of the population.

The ranking of the countries with the largest number of Catholics has also been revolutionized.

In 1910 the leaders of the pack were France and Italy, with 40 and 35 million Catholics respectively. Brazil followed with 21 million. There were more Catholics in Germany than in Mexico: 16 million versus 14 million.

In 2010 Brazil jumped into the lead with 126 million Catholics, followed by Mexico with 96 million and the Philippines with 75 million. And for the first time one of the top ten was an African country, the Democratic Republic of Congo, with 31 million Catholics.

Among the countries of Europe and North America, only the United States has seen over the past century a clear percentage increase of Catholics in the overall population. They were 14% in 1910, now they are 24%. In absolute numbers, with 75 million Catholics, the United States today is tied with the Philippines for third place in the general ranking.

In various countries of ancient Christian tradition, including those high in the rankings, Catholics no longer make up almost the whole of the population, as was the case a century ago. For example, in Brazil in 1910 Catholics were 95 percent of the population. Today 65 percent. This reduction has taken place above all in recent decades.

In the United States as well, where changing from one religion to another is very common, Catholics have undergone an erosion over the past century. Those who have left the Church turn out to be more numerous than those who have entered.

In compensation, however, a great number of immigrants to the United States, especially from Latin America, have come to increase the overall presence of Catholics. "Latinos" are today almost one third of Catholics in the United States and half of those under the age of 40.

The United States is in short a focal point of the new dislocation of Catholics in the world.

The cardinals who will enter into conclave Tuesday are aware of this. In the new century - if not already - an "American" pope will no longer be a surprise.

---

Chiesa is a wonderful source on all things Catholic in Europe. It is skillfully edited by Sandro Magister. SANDRO MAGISTER was born on the feast of the Guardian Angels in 1943, in the town of Busto Arsizio in the archdiocese of Milan. The following day he was baptized into the Catholic Church. His wife’s name is Anna, and he has two daughters, Sara and Marta. He lives in Rome.



Comments


More Europe

SCARY VIDEO! What the heck blew up in Russia's sky? Was it a meteor or something stranger?! Watch

Image of A still taken from footage of the phenomena that took place in Russia on November 14.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

What was the mysterious phenomena that occurred in Russia and was witnessed and captured on camera by dozens of motorists? It appears that nobody knows for sure, and even experts are left scratching their heads while they struggle to find reasonable explanations. ... continue reading


Who really was Jack the Ripper? New evidence points to one man Watch

Image of A criminologist from England may have new evidence that points towards the real identity of Jack the Ripper.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A new theory about the identity of infamous 19th century London serial killer Jack the Ripper may explain why the murderer was able to elude contemporary and modern authorities for so long and escape justice. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Dr. Gareth Norris, a ... continue reading


Which countries drink the most beer? Our list may surprise you! Watch

Image of Beer is one of the most widely consumed beverages in the world.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Who still drinks beer?  Beer is one of the most widely consumed beverages, behind water and tea.  Beer is also a Catholic tradition, alongside wine-making, and has been widely practiced in monasteries, especially in Europe. Now, a list has emerged detailing ... continue reading


To raise money for the poor, Pope Francis to raffle gifts Watch

Image of The tickets are only a modest €10, but this includes a new Fiat Panda 4x4, with all optional extras.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Talking the talk, walking the walk: Pope Francis has done it again. The pontiff is raffling gifts that have been given to him in order to raise money for the poor. Posters announcing the raffle have gone up all over Vatican City. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic ... continue reading


Russia could destabilize Eastern Europe if Ukraine left unchecked, Merkel warns Watch

Image of It's exceedingly tough talk from German Chancellor Angela Merkel. She says that Russia's annexation of Crimea and subsequent destabilization of eastern Ukraine

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

It's exceedingly tough talk from German Chancellor Angela Merkel. She says that Russia's annexation of Crimea and subsequent destabilization of eastern Ukraine "called the whole of the European peaceful order into question." Adding to the gloomy outlook was a ... continue reading


The Pope Who Builds Showers for the Poor under St Peters Rattles our Comfort Zones Watch

Image of Pope Francis embracing Jesus in the face of the poor

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

Those who love the poor - like Jesus loved the poor- are an instruction manual for the rest of us. They are a sign of the kingdom, making it present in their wake. We have such a man in this Pope named Francis. He recognizes that poverty is more than a lack of ... continue reading


Theory: Putin doesn't want war -- he's selling Russian hardware Watch

Image of Putin is playing a dangerous game on brinkmanship with the world -- or he is trying to sell hardware. Nobody is sure.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Vladimir Putin continues to rattle his saber at the western world with bomber flights, naval deployments and the movement of troops within Russia. Some fear the world may be on the brink of a new cold war with the old superpower. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - As ... continue reading


More Catholic Than the Pope? Francis Calls Catholics to Work and Pray with Evangelical Protestants Watch

Image of Pope Francis realistically acknowledges the differences and distinctives in doctrine and practice - as well as the divisions among us. However, he focuses on our common Baptism and shared mission in this decisive moment in Christian history. His message is powerful, prophetic and should be read by every Christian, as well as every other person of faith and good will.

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

Pope Francis carries the burden for Christian unity in his heart, proclaims it in his words, and steps it into his actions. The hoped for healing of our divisions and call to collaboration proceeded from the Second Vatican Council in the Catholic Church and was ... continue reading


Catholic Cardinal fires back at illegal gay marriages in Italy Watch

Image of While gay marriage is illegal in Italy, many city mayors have begun recognizing same-sex marriages performed outside Italy, which has led to great criticism.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A Catholic Cardinal is warning that gay marriage may lead to the destruction of family structure if it becomes culturally accepted by the Catholic Church. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, the head of the Italian Bishops Conference gave ... continue reading


Sex-selective abortions now running rampant across Eastern Europe Watch

Image of Female feticide is happening in countries which previously had no history of such practices, such as Albania, Kosovo and Macedonia.

By Nita Bhalla, Thomson Reuters Foundation

The practice of aborting female fetuses due to a preference for sons is an  "epidemic" which is spreading beyond countries such as India and China to Eastern European nations, a senior United Nations official warned Monday. NEW DELHI (Thomson Reuters ... continue reading


All Europe News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Revelation 11:4-12
4 These are the two olive trees and the two lamps in ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 144:1, 2, 9-10
1 [Of David] Blessed be Yahweh, my rock, who trains ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 20:27-40
27 Some Sadducees -- those who argue that there is no ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for November 22nd, 2014 Image

St. Cecilia
November 22: In the fourth century appeared a Greek religious romance on the ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter