The Catholic Church and Islam: Worrisome statistics in the world and in France
April 24, 2015
The Statistical Yearbook of the Church for the year 2013 has just been published by the Secretary of State of the Holy See. On December 31, 2013, with 25 million more baptisms than the year before, the Church counted 1.253 billion faithful. The American continent (North and South America) remains the one with the most Catholics proportionally speaking, with 63.6% of the population. In Europe, the percentage keeps dropping, and is now at 39.9%. In Asia, it is at 3.2%, but the most populated continent of the planet counts no less than 136 million Catholic faithful.
While the number of faithful throughout the world is increasing, the number of priests has only increased by one thousand – 415,348 on December 31, 2013; 414,313 one year earlier – and the number of religious and seminarians has decreased: there were 118,251 candidates to the priesthood in 2013, and 120,051 in 2012. In the future, the number of priests should continue to decrease as well, because of this decrease in the number of seminarians.
As in past years, the number of religious continues to drop (- 1.2%) with almost 9,000 fewer religious throughout the world. In five years, this number has dropped by 17% in North America and by 13% in Europe.
According to the French weekly La Vie, that conducted a survey on the number of Catholics in France, two out of every three Frenchmen are baptized Catholics, all generations included. In thirty years, there will be between 33.1% and 36.9%. If their average age today is 45, it will be 54 in 2045, – 37.8% will be over 65 years old and 9.9% under 15 years old. La Vie points out that the number of baptisms “gives the maximum number of Catholics,” since the number of practicing Catholics is ten times smaller than the number of baptized Catholics.
These numbers were not made public by the Church. But it is clear that today there are 44 million French Catholics, for a population of 70 million, and that in 30 years, one generation, fewer than one out of every two French people will be baptized. The vertiginous drop in baptisms began in the 70’s. The same goes for Catholic marriages, whose number is decreasing even faster than that of civil marriages.
But during the decades to come, Islam will remain the religion with the greatest growth in the world, according to a study by the Pew Research Center published on April 2. The research center’s estimates predict an increase in the number of Muslims in the world, which will make their proportion go from 23.2% to 29.7% by 2050. With 2.76 billion faithful.
The country with the most Muslims will soon no longer be Indonesia, but India. According to the study “The Future of World Religions”, within 35 years, 10.2% of the European population should be Muslim, as opposed to 5.9% in 2010. After Turkey and Russia, that are partially Asian, Great Britain will have the largest Muslim community in 2050, with 7.76 million faithful; next comes France with 7.54 million and then Germany with 7 million.
The countries south of the Sahara will see the strongest Muslim growth. According to the estimates of the Pew Research Center, in 2050 this region should harbor 24.3% of the world’s Muslims. In 2010, they were at 15.5%. In 35 years, the Muslims will make up over 50% of the population of 51 different countries.
The study also predicts a decrease in the number of the religiously unaffiliated in the world. They should drop from the present 16.4% to 13.2% in 2050. However, in the future, they will be the most important share of the population in France and the Netherlands.
(sources: Ann. Stat./Apic/La Vie/ KNA – DICI no.314 April, 24, 2015)
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Constant decline in religious practice by Catholics worldwideWorld: Church Statistics in 2011World: The Rise of Catholicism in Africa and de-Christianization of EuropeWorld: In 20 years, a quarter of the planet will be Muslim