By Cathy Lynn Grossman
Religion News Service June 2, 2015
The global Catholic population has grown by 57 percent since 1980.
It’s up from 7.83 million in 1980 to 1.2 billion. However, this growth varies steeply by region.
Europeans are rapidly shedding the continent’s historic Catholic identity while the Global South, particularly Africa and Asia, booms with Catholics.
Europe saw only a 6 percent increase — from 271 million to more than 289 million. Meanwhile, the number of Catholics in Africa was up 238 percent, from 58.6 million in 1980 to 198 million in 2012.
But that growth is primarily due to a higher birth rate, “not to conversion or evangelization,” observed the Rev. Thomas Reese, a social scientist and columnist for the National Catholic Reporter who has seen the report.
When that birth rate levels off with economic development, Reese wondered, then what? “Some like to say the Global South is the future of the Church, but I’m not convinced,” said Reese.