Changes in the Catholic Church

Demographics: [35]

  1. The number of Catholics worldwide has experienced a 57% increase since 1980 (The world population in the same timeframe increased by 47%).
  2. Increases by region:
    • Africa 238%,
    • Asia 115%
    • Oceania 67%,
    • the Americas 57%
    • Europe 6%.
  3. At the same time, there have been significant defections from the Catholic Church to other religious groups. For example, nearly one in five Latin Americans self-identify as Protestant/Evangelical, most of them associated with a Pentecostal community.
  4. Beneath the overall picture of growth, it is important to note that the number of Catholics receiving the sacraments has declined, particularly in Europe, North America, Oceania and parts of Asia Pacific.
  5. Church Leadership:
  6. Pope St. John Paul II’s twenty-seven year pontificate was marked by:
    1. Dramatic political change with the end of communist regimes in Europe,
    2. Hitherto unseen centralization of authority in Rome,
    3. The effective use of worldwide travel and mass media.
  7. Pope Benedict XVI, though different in temperament, continued many of the policies and priorities of his predecessor. In February 2013 Pope Benedict resigned the papacy, which had not happened for six hundred years.
  8. Pope Francis, the first Jesuit Pope, was elected in March 2013. He has committed himself to:
    1. Reform of the Roman Curia and significant decentralization of decision-making.
    2. An ecumenical and interfaith dialog.
    3. Support for environmental sustainability.
    4. Advocacy for the poor and displaced persons.

World Congress on Educating Today and Tomorrow. [36]

  1. The gathering in 2015 affirmed that Catholic education must:
    1. Educate the whole person; be dedicated to formation not just information;
    2. Be respectful and open to others in a multi-cultural and multi-faith world;
    3. Create a welcoming community for youth and families;
    4. Be accessible to all, especially those from families with few financial resources;
    5. Focus on the transcendent: the mystery and wonder of God.

Exercise 17. For discernment:

In your region of the world:

  1. How do you assess these changes?
  2. What are the most significant developments?
  3. What developments seem to reflect the greater good?
  4. In this context, what has your educational apostolate done?
  5. What should your educational apostolate be doing?