I just finished A Civilization of Love by Carl Anderson (a wonderful book that I give my strongest recommendation), and I was struck by something the author discusses in the last chapter: the changing demographics of the Catholic Church in the world at large, and in America particularly.
That author makes several provocative (yet true) points:
First, that the global community of Christians–predominantly Catholics–is poor. They are also young, and tend to have far more children than those of us in more developed countries.
Second, by 2020 (12 short years), Africans and Latin Americans will make up sixty percent of the Catholic Church’s total membership. By 2050, there will be more than 100 million Catholics per nation in Brazil, Mexico, the Philippines, the US, Nigeria and Zaire/Congo. That’s remarkable!
Third, an increasing number of Catholics in the United States will be Hispanic Catholics, who are solely responsible for the maintenance of numbers and growth of the Church in the US.
Anderson argues that the United States’s traditional ties with Europe are weakening in the face of changing demography, and by the increasing secularization of Europe. Our future, he indicates, lies not to the West, but in the global South.
I found all of this utterly fascinating. What do you all think? Do we need to forget about Europe and look to our poor brothers and sisters in Africa, Asia, and South America? Who should we be aligning ourselves with spiritually, culturally, even economically? What’s our responsibility to Catholics in the underdeveloped world and how can we–as relatively affluent Americans–help them?
It’s a lot to think about, huh?