WEDNESDAY    January 26, 2000   vol. 11, no. 18   SECTION THREE

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SECTION THREE Contents: Go immediately to the article:
WORLDWIDE NEWS & VIEWS with a Catholic slant continued:
  • State of the Church statistics
  • Cardinal Winning continues crusade for decency
  • New evidence should exonerate Rwanda Bishop
  • Falwell sues White House to release secret data on religious and pro-life leaders
  • Up-to-date Shiplogs of visitors to the DailyCATHOLIC

  • WORLDWIDE NEWS & VIEWS with a Catholic slant

    Figures Speak for Themselves

        ROME, JAN 25 (ZENIT).- "How many divisions does the Pope have?" Joseph Stalin once ironically asked the official warning him of the Vatican's "power." Decades later, totalitarian regimes have all but vanished, while the Catholic Church, founded strictly on an evangelical message of love, has continued to grow.

        We present here an overview of the world's Catholic population, which now exceeds 1 billion members.


        In Asia, where two-thirds of humanity lives, although Christ is still unknown by a majority, there is untold hope for the future. During his recent trip to India, John Paul II said he was convinced that Asia will be the continent where the Gospel will spread most widely in the third millennium. At present, two-thirds of Asian Catholics are in the Philippines, where they constitute the majority. Out of a total population of 70 million, 84% are Roman Catholics.

        The future of believers in the Asian continent depends, to a large extent, on religious liberty. South Korea, for example, is the country with the fastest growing number of conversions in the world. There are some 150,000 baptisms every year. It is the fourth largest in Asia in terms of numbers of Catholics, after the Philippines, India and Vietnam.

        East Timor is a Catholic enclave on the rim of Indonesia, the largest Muslim country in the world. In a recent vote, it won its independence, but rioting afterwards leaves the island crippled. In the remaining countries, Catholics constitute a very small minority: China 0.1%; India 1,75%, Indonesia 2.58%, Japan 0.35%, Pakistan 0.66%, and Bangladesh 0.18%

    The Americas

        America has surpassed Europe, becoming the most Catholic continent of the planet in terms of numbers of faithful. 8 out of 10 Latin Americans are baptized. Brazil, with 161 million inhabitants (88% Catholic) is the largest Catholic country in the world, followed by Mexico, with 95 million inhabitants, 94% of whom are Catholics.

        During the 20th century, Latin American Catholics endured marginalization and even persecution by Freemasonry and waves of anti-clericalism, especially in Mexico and Uruguay. In recent times, internal divisions were caused by Marxist influences. But at present, the Church in Latin America is increasingly united and experiencing considerable dynamism. The oft reported progress of Protestants in converting Catholics, although alarming in some cases, overall seems somewhat superficial: a good many people who join these churches leave them within a few years.

        The Catholic population is growing in the United States, and this is not solely due to Latin American immigrants. At present, there are 60 million Catholics in the U.S., almost 25% of the population.


        Catholics in Africa comprise 15% of the population. Considering countries with over one million inhabitants, the principal Catholic communities are in Angola (54%), the Democratic Republic of the Congo (52%), Uganda (40%), Republic of the Congo (42%), Burundi (59%), Rwanda (44%), Gabon (55%), and Equatorial Guinea (76%). Of these eight countries, five are suffering the consequences of terrible civil wars.

    The Pope's Army

        The number of priests worldwide has gone from 420,971 in 1978 to 404,208 in 1997, amounting to a decrease of about 4%.

        This decrease varies by continent, however. In Africa and Asia the number of priests is increasing; in the Americas it is stable. The marked decrease was recorded in Western Europe and Oceania, but vocations are growing in Eastern Europe.

        The greatest growth in the ministerial priesthood is in Africa, where the figure has increased from 16,926 in 1978 to 25,279 in 1997 -- a growth of about 49.35%. Similar growth was recorded in Asia, where the number of priests increased from 27,700 in 1978 to 40,441 in 1997 -- a 46% increase. In 1978 there were 120,271 priests in the Americas, as compared to 120,013 in 1997. And in Oceania, the number of priests decreased from 5,576 in 1978 to 5,077 in 1997. But the greatest drop in the number of ordained ministers was in Europe, where the figures went from 250,498 in 1978 to 213,398 in 1997 -- a decrease of 14.81%.


        There are two sides to the crisis in the old Continent. In the traditionally Catholic countries, the crisis is more acute: Italy registers (-13.84%), Spain (-16.61%), Portugal (-17.37%), Belgium (-35.51%) and France (-32.70%). However, there has been a marked growth in vocations in Eastern Europe: in Byelorussia (+586.49%), Poland (+36.57%), Rumania (+85.96%), and Ukraine (+121%).

        Contrary to the situation with priests, the number of bishops has registered a steady increase. Between 1979 and 1997, 2,061 new bishops were appointed. In 1978 there were 3,714 bishops worldwide, whereas in 1997 the number rose to 4,420. Africa has gone from 432 bishops in 1978 to 562 in 1997. In Asia the number of bishops grew from 519 to 617 for the same period; in America, from 1,416 to 1,659; in Oceania from 94 to 118; and in Europe from 1,253 to 1,464.

        The number of priests leaving the priesthood has also decreased. Between 1978 and 1997 there were 21,850 who left, the majority being in Europe, with 9,699 priests leaving the ministry. Europe was followed by the Americas with 8,472 defections. In the remaining continents this number reached 1,489 in Africa; 1,735 in Asia; and 455 in Oceania. 1973 was the year when the greatest number of priests left the priesthood: 4,222 worldwide.

        The principal cause for the decrease in the number of priests is due not so much to defections as to the lack of young men responding to God's call. Between 1978 and 1997, 144,437 priests died. Thus, old age has become the great challenge to the priesthood. In 1995 the average age of priests was 54.6 years, and of bishops, 66.49.

        The growth in the number of deacons, however, is impressive. In 1978 there were 5,562 permanent deacons, while in 1997 the number rose to 24,407. This is almost exclusively a Western phenomenon, as there are virtually no permanent deacons in Eastern European and developing countries.

        Western Europe continues to have the largest number of Bishops. Italy leads with 501, followed by France with 175, and Spain with 116. The average age of Bishops is very high: 71 in Italy, 71.3 in France, and 67.2 in Spain.

    "Universalizing" the Curia

    The process of internationalizing the Curia, begun by Pius XII and momentarily stopped by John XXIII, was given a decisive impulse by Paul VI and an even greater impetus by John Paul II.

        John Paul II is the Pope who has created the greatest number of Cardinals in the entire history of the Church. He has named 157 Cardinals, while Pope Leo XIII named 147 and Paul VI 144. During John Paul II's pontificate there has been a record of countries represented in the Sacred College: 60 (or 50 if one counts only Cardinals with the right to vote). Pius XII created 56 Cardinals of whom 36 were European (64%) and only 14 Italians (25%). John XXIII was the most Eurocentric of this century with 52 Cardinals, 37 of whom were European (71%) and 22 Italian (24%).

        With Paul VI and John Paul II the internationalization of the College has been considerable. Of the 144 Cardinals created by Paul VI, only 38 were Italian. John Paul II has created only 37 Italians out of his total of 157.

        At present the Italian sector of the College of Cardinals represents an historical minimum. Of the 106 voting Cardinals, only 17 are Italian (16%). At the beginning of the 20th century, the Italians constituted 61% of the College. They lost their majority under Pius XII and were reduced to a third by Paul VI; at present their number has decreased by 20%. The only notable block retained by the Italians is that of the non-voting Cardinals: 42%.

        The personnel of the Curia at the beginning of the century was mostly Italian. At present, however, the number of Italians is constantly decreasing. With the appointment of Archbishop Zenon Grocholewski as head of the Congregation for Catholic Education, substituting Cardinal Pio Laghi, the Italians at the head of the most important Vatican organizations are only two: Cardinal Angelo Sodano and Cardinal Achille Silvestrini. In 1960 only one Vatican Congregation was not headed by an Italian.

        This radical change has created a new sort of joke in Vatican circles: "Need to internationalize the Roman Curia? Good idea. Name an Italian." ZE00012504

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    Cardinal Winning Says to "Love the Sinner but Reject the Sin"

        GLASGOW, JAN 25 (ZENIT).- A pitched battle is being waged throughout Great Britain over Section 28, which forbids teaching schoolchildren that homosexuality is acceptable. Cardinal Thomas Winning, Archbishop of Glasgow, has become the most vocal opponent against moves to repeal the law. The Blair administration is pushing for its repeal in all parts of the United Kingdom.

        Newspapers over the weekend reported that Cardinal Winning had equated homosexuals to Nazis in a conference given in Malta. In the speech, he stated, "It pains me to use the word perverted when discussing the homosexual act but that it what it is. Gay rights groups always claim it is impossible to promote homosexuality. That is rubbish. It is promoted every day by promoting the lifestyles of gay people."

        He went on to describe the relentless attack on Christian values that is going on today. "Cast your minds back to the dark days of World War Two,'' he added. "The parallels with today are striking. In place of the bombs of 50 years ago, you find yourselves bombarded with images, values and ideas which are utterly alien."

        The Cardinal apologized for any misunderstandings of his statements. He explained, "In presenting the teaching of the Roman Catholic Church on this issue I constantly return to the principle of loving the sinner while rejecting the sin. Unfortunately, this distinction is rarely reported, with certain sections of the press preferring lurid headlines." He further pointed out that the word "Nazi" never occured in his comments.

        Cardinal Winning's opposition to the repeal is not a lone voice. Businessman Brian Souter has pledged more than 500,000 to help block plans of the Scottish Executive to abolish Section 28. In England, Anglican Bishop James Jones of Liverpool became the first non-Catholic religious figure to defend Cardinal Winning's position.

        "Cardinal Winning's intervention makes an appeal over the heads of the gatekeepers of political correctness direct to the silent constituency," Bishop Jones wrote. "What is needed is a debate about the ethics of sexuality and whether there is any moral difference between gay and straight relationships. That discussion should happen throughout society, not least in our schools."

        However, he added, "Section 28 does not inhibit such a debate. What it seeks to prevent is the promotion of a gay lifestyle as a moral equivalent to heterosexual marriage." ZE00012520

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    Witnesses to Genocide Dismantle Attorney's Arguments

        KIGALI, RWANDA, JAN 25 (ZENIT).- A few days ago, the 16th hearing connected with the prosecution of a Rwandan Bishop accused of complicity in the 1994 genocide in Rwanda was held in Kilgali.

        Bishop Augustine Misago of Gikongoro was arrested on April 14, a week after Rwandan President Pasteur Bizimungu accused the prelate of having participated in the genocide that eliminated 150,000 Tutsis from his diocese and, in particular, in the killing of 30 female students who had asked him for protection. The President accused the Bishop during a commemoration of the 5th anniversary of the genocide. Bishop Misago is accused of not doing everything in his power to save the life of priests and other persons who were killed by the Hutus during the genocide.

        During the latest hearings, testimony was heard from a priest of the Gikongoro diocese who survived the massacres that occurred in Cyanika in April of 1994. The priest revealed how Fr. Niyomugabo, 4 other persons who were hiding with him, and Fr. Aloys Musoni were killed. The witness explained that he was welcomed by Bishop Misago, along with Fr. Musoni, a Tutsi, in the building adjacent to the Bishop's quarters.

        Fr. Musoni was arrested in the episcopal residence itself by the police, in spite of the fact that on several occasions the Bishop of Gikongoro pleaded for his life, both with the police as well as the militias.

        The accusation stated the exact opposite. According to the accusers, the Bishop refused to help the priest in Cyanika. The witness refuted the accusations, demonstrating that the Bishop was unable to organize an evacuation plan for the group in Cyanika where they were massacred. The victims could not reach Gikongoro as the road was totally controlled by the militias.

        The January 23 hearing included several confrontations between lawyers for the prosecution and the defense. Bishop Misago's lawyer protested against the prosecuting attorney's attitude, who tried to ridicule the witnesses for the defense. The proceedings will continue on January 26. The hearing of witnesses for the defense should end in early February. ZE00012505

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        WASHINGTON, DC ( - The Rev. Jerry Falwell filed a federal lawsuit against the Clinton administration and the FBI last week, demanding access to an alleged secret database that includes information on religious and pro-life leaders.

        Falwell's lawsuit contends the database is used to store information for use in smear campaigns. He sought the information last summer through a Freedom of Information Act request, but was rebuffed. In a letter filed with lawsuit, Meredith E. Cabe, an associate counsel to President Clinton, wrote, "FOIA does not establish a statutory right to the records Dr. Falwell has requested from the White House, if such records exist." Falwell said he learned of the database's existence through the group Judicial Watch.

        The lawsuit says keeping information about Falwell in the database is a violation of the Privacy Act, which makes it illegal for the government to keep a file on a person without a lawful reason.

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    January 26, 2000     volume 11, no. 18
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