I case you’ve had your head in the sand, the Catholic church is alive an well despite setbacks in the United States and Europe. Their growth is focused in emerging markets like China and Africa. I found some insight into this in an article in the Guardian called Keeping the faith: how bleak is the future for Catholicism?
In Nigeria, Archbishop Matthew Ndagosa of Kaduna, looks out on a horizon that would dazzle his Western counterparts. "The churches are full. Young people go to church. And we have the world's largest seminary, in Enugu," he says, adding that the doctrines that cause Catholicism problems in the rich world strengthen its appeal in countries like Nigeria. "In our tradition, morals are very strong. The strong rulings – on abortion, condoms, homosexuality, etcetera – in the Catholic church are a natural match."
What Ndagosa calls a natural match, I call opportunistic bottom feeding. But I’m biased, right? That’s the point of all the Catholic charity work. Hold the population hostage to essential services, educate and indoctrinate the population, and then grow your church with each new baby.
While the visible membership trend in America and Europe is downward, there is explosive growth in 3rd world markets. Of course, I see the growth as coerced.
Strong in the developing world where birth rates are high, Catholicism has done well out of the contemporary "faith boom". Whatever problems Benedict may have, numbers are not yet among them. His church's statisticians estimate that the number of baptised Catholics reached 1,166 million at the end of 2008, a rise of 1.7% on a year earlier. Over the intervening 12 months, the Catholic population as a share of the global total edge up too.
My anecdotal evidence may not be a strong as the facts reported in Guardian article. I’ve meet 7 Catholic priests in the last 3 years. 4 priests were from Africa, 3 were from the Philippines. It’s obvious to me that Catholics are sustaining their church in the United States through their 3rd world recruitment effort. Its a model that will sustain the church for a long time to come.