Catholics in Brazil decline sharply in number

Census figures revealing a sharp decline in Catholic numbers in Brazil have been released a year ahead of Pope Benedict’s planned visit to attend World Youth Day 2013.

Out of 191 million Brazilians, 123.2 million define themselves as Catholics — more than in any other country in the world.

But in the 10 years to 2010, the percentage of Catholics in Brazil dropped from 74 per cent to 64.6 per cent. Meanwhile, the percentage of Protestant evangelicals has increased from 15.4 per cent to 22.2 per cent.

Jose Diniz, a professor at Rio de Janeiro’s National School of Statistics, predicts the downward trend for Catholicism will continue, and that Catholics will represent less than 50 per cent of the population by 2030.

“Most evangelicals are former Catholics, but being Catholic does not mean being a practising Catholic. By contrast, an evangelical lives his faith at work, in school and in the community,” says Silas Malafaia, a television evangelist whose Victory in Christ Assembly of God church has almost 20,000 members.

The Assemblies of God, the largest evangelical group with roots in Brazil dating back more than a century, has 50,000 pastors and 100,000 churches, including mega-churches, according to Malafaia.

By contrast, the Catholic Church says it has less than 25,000 priests and 11,000 parishes.

Census figures show that the proportion of Catholics in Brazil is higher among people over 40 years old, whereas evangelicals are more highly represented among children and adolescents — including 25 per cent of those aged 5-14.

According to the Center for the Study of Global Christianity, at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in Massachusetts, Brazil sent 400,000 Christian missionaries overseas in 2010 — second only to the United States, with 127,000.


Agence France-Presse

Christian Post

Image: Free Republic

Additional reading

News category: World.

Tags: , ,