AMERICA/BRAZIL - World Youth Day and the Catholic religion: What kind of Brazil will Pope Francis find?

Friday, 19 July 2013

Brasilia (Agenzia Fides) - The organizers of World Youth Day expect more than a million young pilgrims from 170 countries in Rio de Janeiro. Brazil is a land with approximately 123 million Catholics and more than 400 bishops: the country with the largest number of Catholics in the world.
Despite these numbers, according to a Report of the "Pew Research Center", published yesterday and sent to Fides Agency, the Catholic percentage of the population of Brazil has decreased in recent decades. On the other hand - notes the text of the study center based in USA - the percentage of Brazilians belonging to Protestant churches is increasing, as is the percentage of Brazilians who identify themselves with other religions or with no creed.
The report of the "Pew Research Center" sent to Fides reports that between 1970 and 2000, the percentage of the population that identifies itself as Catholics has declined, although the number of Catholics in the country has increased. The Catholic population of Brazil has decreased slightly, from 125 million in 2000 to 123 million a decade later, going from 74% to 65% of the total population of the country. In contrast, during the same period, the number of Brazilian Protestants continued to grow from 26 million (15%) in 2000 to 42 million (22%) in 2010, a particularly relevant increase among the Pentecostals.
According to a census carried out in Brazil in 1991, about 6% of the population belonged to Pentecostal or neo-Pentecostal churches. In 2010, this proportion had grown to 13%. Meanwhile, the percentage of Brazilians who identify themselves with historical Protestant denominations, such as Baptists and Presbyterians, has remained fairly constant over the past two decades, from 3% to 4% of the population.
More worryingly, according to the report, is that the growth of Protestantism seems to be a consequence of the "religious switching", ie the passage of the faithful from the Catholic Church to other communities. For the Catholic Church the tendency to "lose popularity among younger Brazilians and among the inhabitants of the city" seems to be accelerating in recent years: the organizers of World Youth Day are hoping that a charismatic and Latin American Pope, who will express himself in Portuguese and Spanish, is able to make a contribution in order to revitalize the Brazilian church. (CE) (Agenzia Fides 19/07/2013)