Number of Catholics in Mexico declining

While Hispanic immigrants to America may be helping to keep the number of Catholics in the U.S. afloat, one sociologist says that the number of Catholics in Mexico is actually dwindling:

More than 1,000 Mexicans left the Catholic Church every day over the last decade, adding up to some 4 million fallen-away Catholics between 2000 and 2010, sociologist and historian Roberto Blancarte told Efe.

Blancarte, one of the nation’s outstanding specialists on religious subjects, said that one of the main conclusions to be drawn from the 2010 census is that Mexico is no longer a predominantly Catholic country and has become a nation of religious pluralism. . . . .

In 1950, 98.21 percent of Mexicans said they were Catholic, in 1960 the percentage dropped to 96.47 percent, in 1970 to 96.17 percent, in 1980 to 92.62 percent, in 1990 the percentage dropped to 89.69 percent, in 2000 the country was only 88 percent Catholic, and now that percentage is lower still at 83.9 percent.

Blancarte takes a dim view of Catholicism’s future in Mexico, saying that “Catholicism is destined to be abandoned.” It seems strange to think that a nation like Mexico could ever lose its Catholic heritage — but then again, we’ve seen a similar trend in Ireland, a historically Catholic nation where the Faith is nonetheless struggling.

What accounts for the change in Mexico? Blancarte suggests that “as long as the church continues with its boring liturgies, as long as its representatives remain unconnected to people’s needs and keep slamming the use of contraceptives and condoms and saying that sex education is bad, more and more people will leave.” Church teaching on contraception is always an easy answer, of course, whether or not it’s accurate. But what of the other charges? What else could be at work here? Leave your thoughts in the comments.

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Margaret Cabaniss is the former managing editor of Crisis Magazine. She joined Crisis in 2002 after graduating from the University of the South with a degree in English Literature and currently lives in Baltimore, Maryland. She now blogs at SlowMama.com.

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