Irish decline and African increase in Roman Catholic membership

Pope Francis

The on-line newspaper, Derry Now, has published an enlightening article that charts the rise and decline of Catholics and other faiths in Ireland and worldwide between 2010 and 2015, based on figures released by the 2016 Irish Census and the Vatican’s 2017 Annuario Pontifico (Statistical Yearbook).

The article reports that while Roman Catholicism remains the dominant Church in the Republic of Ireland, there were 132,200 fewer Catholics in the country over the past five years, down to 3,729,100 from 3,861,300 in 2011. That represents a decline 5.9%, from 84.2% of the population in 2011 to 78.3% in 2016.

The decline is also reflected in other Christian denominations. Those identifying themselves as Church of Ireland dropped to 126,400 (a 2% decline), Presbyterians dropped to 24,200 (a 1.6% decline) and Pentecostals dropped to 13,400 (a 4.9% decline).

According to the article Islam, Hinduism and Orthodox all saw a rise in numbers and percentages. Between 2011 and 2016 Islam rose by 14,200 members (a 29% rise); Hindus by 34 per cent (no figures are given) and Orthodox membership rose by 17,000 (a 37.5% rise).

Those declaring no religious affiliation rose to 9.8% of the population.

Catholicism is growing in Africa

Vatican statistics also reveal important trends. Africa has 17.7% of the world’s Catholic population. Asia has 11% and Oceania has 0.8%. The Americas (North, South and Central America) account for 49% of the world’s Catholic population.

According to Annuario Pontifico in 2015 there were:

670,320 professed women religious in the world

415,656 priests,

54,229 religious brothers

45,255 permanent deacons and

5,304 bishops.

Globally, Catholic numbers increased to 1.285 billion of the world’s population, an increase of 7.4% between 2010 and 2015.

Africa saw the largest percentage growth in Catholics, increasing by almost 20% during the same 5 year period. 

You may access the Derry Now article by clicking here:

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