Friday, April 11, 2008

Africa Continent Muslims Outnumber Catholics

Africa: Church Looks to Continent As Muslims Outnumber Catholics
The Catholic Information Service for Africa (CISA)
Written By:CISA , Posted: Wed, Apr 02, 2008
The number of Catholics in the world has for the first time been overtaken by that of Muslims, the Vatican says.
Muslims now account for 19.2 percent of the world's population, while Catholics make up 17.4 percent, according to figures for 2006 published by the Vatican's new statistics yearbook.
Latin America remains the stronghold of Catholicism and Africa is a "grand resource" for the church, while Europe and North America are struggling.
"For the first time in history we are no longer at the top: the Muslims have overtaken us," said Monsignor Vittorio Formenti, who edited the Vatican yearbook. "While it is known that Muslim families continue to have many children, Christian families are having fewer," he said in an interview with the Vatican newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano.
The Vatican data shows that Christians as a whole, including Orthodox and Protestant groups as well as Catholics, make up 33 of the world's population.
Applying the percentages to the 2006 world population of about 6.5 billion, Muslims would have made up 1.25 billion of the total, Catholics 1.13 billion, and all Christians 2.15 billion.
Formenti said the information on Muslim numbers had been released by the United Nations, while the Vatican's data on Catholics was based on questionnaires sent out to dioceses worldwide.
"Latin America remains the stronghold for Catholicism, while the American continent as a whole has 49.8 percent of the world's total," he said.
Formenti said that the number of Catholic priests was on the rebound, particularly in Asia, "where there are few Catholics, but they are driven by great spirit". He described Africa as a "grand resource" for the church, while Europe and North America were struggling. The number of nuns was undergoing a "drastic reduction".