Thursday, April 03, 2008

Vatican Says Muslims Outnumber Christians--Unless Catholics Include Non-Catholics

Catholic News Service reported March 31st that a Vatican official agrees that today's global population has more Muslims than Catholics. This has been the position of the World Almanac and other sources for several years.

Msgr. Vittorio Formenti, head of the Vatican's statistics office, said that based on Rome's count "tabulated methodically" and Muslim estimates transmitted to the U.N., at the end of 2006 Muslims were 19.2 percent of the world population, while Catholics were 17.4 percent.

It was unclear if the good monsignor took comfort from another factoid he reported: that if other Christian denominations are taken into consideration, the global Christian population is about 33 percent of the total.

The importance of the numbers is questionable. But if Catholicism is going to keep track of them, Rome might at least acknowledge that counting non-Catholic Christians almost doubles the Christian population of the world--or, to put it another way, that only half the Christians on the planet pledge allegiance to Catholicism.

Shouldn't that make the Vatican a lot more cautious about declaring that non-Catholic Christian congregations and denominations are not churches? Shouldn't the Vatican be a lot more respectful of non-Catholic Christians and their leaders, who remain unconvinced that the Roman Catholic model is the only church structure inspired by Jesus Christ? Shouldn't the Vatican be a lot more humble and a lot more collegial before it attempts to tell Muslims and Jews what Christianity believes?

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