Catholic World News News Feature
Muslims now outnumber Catholics March 31, 2008
The world's Catholics are now outnumbered by Muslims, according to the editor of the Vatican's statistical yearbook.
Msgr. Vittorio Formenti, who supervises the compilation of demographic figures for the Annuaro Pontificio, told L'Osservatore Romano that the latest data-- from 2006-- show a worldwide population of 1.115 billion Catholics, but 1.322 billion Muslims.
"For the first time in history, we are not at the top," Msgr. Formenti told the Vatican newspaper. He noted that the Catholic proportion of the world's population has held steady in recent years, while the Muslim representation has grown because of the larger family sizes in the Islamic world. Catholic families are having fewer children, he observed.
While Muslims outnumber Catholics, Christianity-- taken as a whole, including Orthodox and Protestant faithful-- still represents the world's largest religious group, with well over 2 billion believers.
The Annuario Pontificio lists summary data for the Catholic Church, provided by diocesan officials. The figures for Muslim population are taken from census statistics provided by various national governments.
The Annuario Pontificio, which offers reports on each Catholic diocese in the world, may be available online beginning next year.