Catholic Shrinkage: Has Brazil Given Up On Jesus?

Catholic Shrinkage: Has Brazil Given Up On Jesus?

The number of Brazilians who identify as Catholics has shrunk by at least 9 million, one local poll suggested on Christmas week.

Kenneth Rapoza

Could it be because the pope is Argentinian that Brazilians have turned away from Catholicism?

Nah…. Of course not.

Reasons vary per person, but the Catholic Church is losing its faithful in Brazil. The ongoing exodus from the church in what is the world’s largest Catholic nation shed another 9 million church-goers between October 2014 and December 2016, a survey by local Datafolha polling firm said this week.

Two years ago, 60% of the Brazilian population were practicing Catholics. But that dropped to 50% in 2016 as less people go to church. The lower numbers do not bode well for the Catholicisms expansion in Brazil. Less faithful mean less people are married by priests, thus making it all the more cumbersome for new families to baptize newborn babies in the Catholic faith, including those who grew up Catholic, would like to get back into the groove of mass, but were not married in the system. The church also does not baptize babies that were not born to parents married by Catholic priests. Divorcees are also banned from the church, either officially or by default, further swelling the ranks of ex-Catholic church goers.

Brazil’s two year decline fell by as much as 14% in a worse case scenario, given the margin of error. In this scenario, the decline amounts to 20 million less Catholic church-goers, equivalent to the population of Sao Paulo.

Losing one’s religion doesn’t always mean giving up on Jesus, or belief in God. But over the last two years, the percentage of Brazilians who say they do not have a religion more than doubled from 6% to 14%.

Brazil is going in the opposite direction with the Catholic church, whose leader is Pope Francis of Argentina.

The growth rate of the world population is 1.21% per year, and Catholics are growing at 1.28%, while Evangelicals increase 2.12% and Pentecostals expand at 2.20%. Other religions are growing at a 2.21% rate while agnostics are growing at 0.36% and atheists at a tiny 0.05%.

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2 comments on “Catholic Shrinkage: Has Brazil Given Up On Jesus?

  1. October 11, 1962. Vatican II opening session.


  2. Response from the BrazilianCCCP:

    The Secretary to the Brazilian Conference of Bishops, Bishop Ulrich Steiner, declared to the daily Folha de S. Paulo, that the number of people disposed to fight for justice is more important than the percentage of Catholics. – See more at:

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