Catholic growth rates widen between Asia and Europe
Figures are now starting to diverge sharply
Catholic devotees attend Mass in Manila, Philippines (AFP/Noel Celis)
Alessandro Speciale,Vatican City International
May 14, 2013
Catholicism is spreading faster in Asia and Africa than anywhere else in the world, according to comparative data released yesterday by the Vatican that shows it stagnating and even declining in the Americas, Europe and Oceania.
Statistics show that the growth of Catholics in Asia greatly outpaces that of the general population. Between 2010 and 2011 the region witnessed a two percent increase in growth, compared to 1.2 percent of the global population. Similar figures were recorded in Africa, while in the rest of the world Catholics' ranks expanded in line with population growth.
The Americas remain the most populous region for Catholics, accounting for slightly less than half the global population.
The growth trend of the Church in Asia and Africa is also reflected in the number of priests and seminarians. While in Europe they have declined by almost 10 percent in the past decade, in Africa the numbers are up 39.5 percent since 2000, and 32 percent in Asia.
This trend may accelerate in the coming years, particularly as candidates to the priesthood become increasingly scarce in Europe and the Americas. Asia and Africa on the other hand now account for almost one in four potential future priests in the world, compared to one in six a decade ago.
The picture is different for females in the Church. The ranks of nuns have shrunk by almost 10 percent from 2001, with just 713,000 in 2011 compared to 792,000 ten years earlier. The decline is sharp in Europe, Oceania and the Americas, but even the quick growth in Asia and Africa has not been able to offset the trend.
Poverty, unemployment and a narrow understanding of religious teachings often lead youth astray
Sixteen terrorists will be executed for the massacre of more than 100 school children and other attacks
Armed men are believed to be supporters of the so-called Islamic State
This is the first time that such a high-level delegation is travelling to the Vatican for the canonization of an Indian saint
Police order budget hotels to reject guests from five predominantly Muslim countries