The Catholic Church is like Fiat-Chrysler. Slumping in Italy and Europe, it is coming back strong in the United States and has its most promising market in the rest of the world. With a clue about who the future pope will be.
The nation that has the largest number of Catholics today is Brazil, with 134 million, more than Italy, France, and Spain put together. Catholicism there has successfully confronted fierce competition, which in recent decades inflicted serious damage on it. Because when liberation theology was in fashion among the neo-Marxist Catholic élite, the faithful did not convert en masse to their message. They went over by the millions to the new Pentecostalist Churches, with their festive celebrations, music, singing, healings, speaking in tongues. But now this exodus has stopped.
In the Catholic Church as well, the faithful are finding the warmth of participation and firmness of doctrine that three and four centuries ago brought success to the Reductions, the Jesuit missions among the Indians. Next year, world youth day will be in Brazil. Pope Joseph Ratzinger has promised that he will be there.
Then there are the Asian tigers. South Korea is the emblem of these. There the number of Catholics is rising at an astonishing rate, with tens of thousands of adults baptized each year. They were the soul of the popular movement that peacefully overthrew the military dictatorship. And they are an active part of the productive classes that produced the Korean economic miracle. In the capital, Seoul, they are now 15 percent of the population, when only half a century ago they didn’t even exist. And as in a big company, the Korean Catholic Church has set itself the goal of converting 20 percent of the population by 2020: “Evangelization Twenty Twenty” is the title of the program.
In Asia, the Philippines is the only nation in which Catholics are in the majority, with 76 million faithful. But beyond Korea, Catholicism is on the rise in various other countries. Even where it is most persecuted, like in China.
News category: Features.