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China's Catholic population hitting plateau after years of rapid growth

August 23, 2016

After a period of rapid growth, the Catholic population in China has reached a plateau, and the number of new priestly and religious vocations is dropping, a leading researcher reports. 

Writing for the AsiaNews service, Anthony Lam Sui-ky, an analyst for the Holy Spirit Study Centre in Hong Kong, estimates that China's Catholic population is now about 10.5 million. The Beijing government cites a much lower figure, but the author notes that the government's estimates have consistently been well short of Catholic Church figures. 

The "plateau," the analyst explains, occurs when a slowdown in the number of new converts occurs after a period of dramatic growth. While new converts continue to enter the Church, these new arrivals only equal the number of older converts who die each year. "This means that the increase in new members just replaced the number of lost members but failed to achieve any further growth." He observes that the same "plateau" phenomenon is evident in both the "official" and "underground" Catholic Church.

 
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