More practicing Catholics in China than Italy, Tony Blair claims
February 18, 2011
In an address on the religious influences that shape the world, former British prime minister Tony Blair said that there are more practicing Catholics in China today than in Italy.
There are an estimated 15-18 million Catholics in China, although estimates vary widely because of the government's refusal to acknowledge the "underground" Church. About 6 million Catholics worship in churches that are recognized by the government; there may be twice as many in the "underground" churches. Italy's population is 58 million, of whom 80% are Catholic. But only about one-third of Italian Catholics practice the faith. So Blair's calculation is reasonable.
Blair also noted that there are more Muslims in China than in Europe-- providing some perspective on the phenomenon of Muslim immigration into the European countries.