Catholic Culture Overview
Catholic Culture Overview

In Africa, a Catholic explosion!

By Phil Lawler ( bio - articles - email ) | Mar 07, 2016

Let’s be honest: statistics can be dull. But sometimes a number leaps off the page (or the screen). That happened to me this morning, with our CWN headline story about the growth of the world’s Catholic population.

During that time period, the Catholic population soared by 41% in Africa and 20% in Asia, approximately double the rate of population growth on each continent (23.8% in Africa, 9.6% in Asia).

That rate of growth in Asia is impressive. But in Africa: 40%? That’s not growth; that’s explosion!

To put things in context, if the Catholic population of the US grew by 40% each decade, in 40 or 50 years we’d have an absolute Catholic majority, and in 60 or 70 years, pretty much everyone would be Catholic.

In the Western world we tend to think of Africa as a continent riddled with poverty, violence, and disease. That’s an accurate picture, unfortunately; but it’s not a complete picture. Europe was a place of poverty, violence and disease after the fall of the Roman empire, until the rise of a Christian culture lifted the continent to new levels, creating a great civilization that has endured for centuries. We still think of Europe—what was once known as “Christendom”—as the cradle of our culture.

But nothing in life is forever. Europe is no longer Christendom, and our once-proud Western civilization is in obvious, steep—perhaps terminal?—decline. Africa, for all her troubles, is on the rise.

Phil Lawler has been a Catholic journalist for more than 30 years. He has edited several Catholic magazines and written eight books. Founder of Catholic World News, he is the news director and lead analyst at See full bio.

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  • Posted by: jeremiahjj - Mar. 08, 2016 5:59 PM ET USA

    We tend to think the world revolves around us. It revolves alright, but the turns are according to God's plan, not ours. It would pay those of us who watch these things to keep an eye on Africa. Our brothers and sisters there are leading the way.

  • Posted by: bruno.cicconi7491 - Mar. 08, 2016 8:59 AM ET USA

    The Spirit goes wherever he wills.

  • Posted by: Randal Mandock - Mar. 07, 2016 2:22 PM ET USA

    Growth in Catholic populations follows growth in Catholic orthodoxy! This is news? Sounds more like good logic to me. Not only is Africa rapidly becoming a seat of Catholic leadership, but the continent is also becoming a bastion of Catholic intellect.