The Vatican has published the latest statistics of the Catholic Church: the number of Catholics in the world has reached 1 billion 228 million people

Democratic Republic of the Congo (28,700,000)

The Democratic Republic of Congo gained independence from Belgium in 1960 and has been plagued by civil unrest ever since. The Catholic Church played a significant role in the politics and social structures of the country as it founded many schools as well as hospitals. Sometimes people turn to them when they feel they can no longer trust the government. The church was often an important mediator between the government and opposition parties because it was the group that the local population believed was fighting for them. Today, more than 28 million people in the DRC are Catholic.

About the Catholic presence in Russia

Rome is focused on Moscow. This is more than half of the Orthodox world. They think that if they don’t have Moscow, then they will only have pieces and fragments left. Among the rest of the Orthodox world there are great people, such as Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, and living Churches, like in Romania. But none of them has as many resources as the Moscow Patriarchate.

Antoine Niver, publisher of Service orthodoxe de presse.

Speaking about the presence of the Catholic Church in Russia, it should immediately be noted that it began not in the past, and not even in the century before last, but since the time of Kievan Rus, which, as A.V. notes. Kartashev, was distinguished by “comparative religious tolerance” [1]. This attitude extended not only to Catholicism, but also to other religions: many “overseas guests” came to Rus', and it was necessary to maintain good relations with them. And although there were Catholic churches and even several monasteries in Rus', the Russian population had contact with both lay Catholics and the clergy, this communication did not lead to any pro-Catholic sentiments. “At the end of pre-Mongol times,” writes A.V. Kartashev, “under the influence of religious division with Western Europe, all such traces of the past closeness of the Russian people to it almost completely disappear and, after the catastrophe of the Mongol invasion, become impossible” [2].

For the sake of historical justice, it should be noted that, starting with the Truce of Andrusovo in 1667, the Russian Empire began to include territories with a Catholic population. Therefore, in 1773, Catherine II founded the Belarusian Roman Catholic Bishopric, and in 1793, under the second partition of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, Belarus passed to Russia with the oldest in Europe, the Minsk-Mogilev archbishopric see. And although Catholicism was rooted historically in the lands of Poland, the Baltic States, Finland, Western Ukraine and Belarus, in the central part of the Russian Empire it became popular only in the 18th-19th centuries. among the Russian aristocracy and intelligentsia. The people, for the most part, were not interested in Catholicism and remained Orthodox. Territories where Catholicism historically coexisted with Orthodoxy were annexed to Russia over several centuries. But today they are all part of other states. After the collapse of the USSR, the Russian Federation became a battleground for representatives of various religious denominations. They had to withstand competition not only with the Russian Orthodox Church, but also with each other.

And Rome, whose gaze was turned towards Russia for many centuries in a row, of course, could not remain aloof from the “spiritual colonization” of Russia by America and Europe in the “dashing nineties”. Therefore, on April 13, 1991, Pope John Paul II issued a decree on the creation of apostolic administrations for the European and Asian parts of Russia and Kazakhstan. The Apostolic Administration is the administrative unit of the Catholic Church in countries where there are Catholics, but there is no possibility of opening dioceses. The Belarusian bishop Tadeusz Kondrusiewicz was appointed head of the Russian Catholics. In 2002, after the reorganization of administrations into normal dioceses, he headed the local Catholic Church in Russia with the title of Metropolitan Archbishop of the Archdiocese of the Mother of God in Moscow. In September 2007, Archbishop Kondrusevich was transferred to the Minsk-Mogilev See. And he was replaced by a fairly young bishop, Paolo Pezzi. In February 2010, he wrote a note “The Catholic Church in Russia: the meaning of presence.” It spoke in detail about the two concepts of the presence of the RCC in Russia, and about the goal that Russian Catholics set for themselves. I strongly recommend that the most inquisitive readers read this interesting article for themselves. We will touch on several of her statements. Speaking about the presence of Catholics in our country, the archbishop develops two of his concepts. “If, due to exceptional circumstances, the Church in a certain place or at a certain period must limit its concerns to certain “ethnic” groups (as was the case in Russia before 1905), it must at the same time have an ardent desire to “open” its doors to everyone else , as soon as the opportunity arises; otherwise she will eventually suffocate (emphasis added - M.N.)...

For Catholics in Russia, this means that they cannot deny or forget their own history, which states that the Catholic presence in Russia really arose precisely as an ethnic one: Poles, Germans, Lithuanians, Ukrainians, French came to Russia and stayed in it - but also as Russian: already in the past, during the very special history of “Russian Catholics”. On the other hand, if the Catholic presence is and must be rooted in the uniqueness of the various cultures that brought it to Russia, it must also “flow into the universality that is an exchange for the sake of common enrichment.” It follows, for example, that the typically “Latin” tradition of the majority of Russian Catholics (it corresponds to their origin: German, Lithuanian, etc.), of course, cannot be rejected, it cannot be neglected. At the same time, however, one should not confuse one’s “Latinness” (as well as one’s ethnicity: German, Lithuanian, Polish, etc.) with a “Catholic” identity. To be a Catholic is simply to follow Christ, to live the faith in communion with the bishop, who in turn is in communion with the bishop of Rome. But Catholics in Russia, as in any other place, build a life of faith in a certain environment, namely in Russia at the beginning of the 21st century. And the Christian faith dies if it is not embodied in the specific circumstances of time and place, in the culture in which it is called to mature. Jean Danielou writes: “Christ is the action of God, who comes for man, wherever he is, to take him and raise him to himself. […] Everyone accepts the Word of God according to his own form of religiosity, and the values ​​of the various religions are preserved in Christianity. An Indian who accepts Christianity remains fully Indian. […] It often seems to us that our way of life is the only possible one for Christians. Hence the desire to impose it on others is born. This is precisely the mistake of Christian colonialism [...]" [3].

Commenting on this passage, I would like to draw attention to the fact that in Russia, among the various Christian denominations, there is one main one - Orthodoxy, and it also teaches life with Christ, having in its arsenal all the means necessary for the salvation of the soul. If an Indian who converts to Catholicism is given the right to “remain an Indian” by Jean Daniel, then it would be wonderful if a Russian living in Russia would also be given the right to remain Russian - to those who absorbed the Orthodox tradition with their mother’s milk and grew up in it even if he learned about it not from direct, but from indirect sources - Russian literature, music, painting. Let's continue the quote from the note of the Catholic Archbishop. “...The second challenge facing the Catholic Church in Russia today; it inextricably combined missionary and ecumenical ideas. The above principle helps us understand that mission and ecumenism are by no means opposed to each other - on the contrary, one is an aspect of the other. The purpose of the Church is to proclaim Christ to man and to unite man with the mysterious body of Christ, without erasing the personal characteristics of each, unique and distinctive, but, on the contrary, revealing them and increasing their fruitfulness; Therefore, it is obvious that it is impossible to be Catholics in Russia without the deepest respect for the Russian Orthodox Church, without the most sincere and ardent desire to unite with it: after all, it preserves most of the rich spiritual tradition of this people. Despite cultural differences, this tradition is rooted in a faith that is almost identical in its foundations to the Catholic faith.

The Russian Orthodox theologian Sergei Bulgakov, in his work “At the Walls of Chersonesus,” recognized that the division of the Church does not reach the depths; in its mysterious life the Church remains united; this can be said, at least, about the relationship between Orthodoxy and Catholicism. The author does not turn a blind eye to the tragic state of affairs: the division of the Church is a wound for both sides. In this perspective, it is important to perceive our mission not as parallel or competing with the mission of the Orthodox Church - as if we were trying to convert more Russians to Catholicism as quickly as possible - but as truly “ecumenical”, that is, imbued with the desire to implement and demonstrate now (in those forms that God gives) unity, which we have yet to develop in its entirety ”(emphasis added - M.N.) [4].

I think there is no need to comment on this statement by Archbishop Pezzi: everything speaks for itself. So what goals does the Catholic Church set for itself in staying in Russia and with the help of what organizations is it going to subsequently develop the unity of Christians in its entirety? Unlike the Orthodox Church, the Catholic Church offers a person a large choice of institutions of consecrated life - various orders and congregations, in which everyone can find the path of spiritual development that is closest to them. Each order, congregation and other organizations have their own charter, tradition of religious life, and leadership. As a rule, orders consist of three branches: male and female orders, as well as a “third order” for the laity. People who enter third orders do not become monks, but at the same time they are engaged in various ministries of the Catholic Church and are associated with the orders. We will only talk about some orders and organizations working in Russia.

“Christian Russia” (“Russia Cristiana”)

This social movement was created just over fifty years ago by the priest Romano Scalfi. For a long time he studied Russian and looked through the Soviet press daily. During the years of stagnation, Christian Russia was engaged in transporting Christian literature in Russian to the USSR, mainly from the Brussels publishing house Life with God and Christian Russia itself. A group of enthusiasts, both clergy and secular people interested in the Russian religious and philosophical heritage, Orthodoxy and Soviet reality, gathered around him. Later to Fr. Romano, as an expert on Russia and Orthodoxy, was visited by priests sent to serve in the Russian Federation for internship and training. Among them was the new archbishop Paolo Pezzi. Now “Christian Russia” is actively present in Russia thanks to the “Pokrovsky Gate” foundation (the second name is “Spiritual Library”). The center has three areas of work - publishing, book distribution and cultural activities. The purpose of publishing work is multifaceted - it is service to the Catholic Church and its official structures; search and development of ecumenical dialogue; study and dissemination of the spiritual, historical and theological tradition of the Catholic and Orthodox Churches. The books published by the Center relate to the theological and cultural heritage of both faiths. The staff searches “within the Russian Christian world... for authors and topics consistent with the purpose and spirit of the Center” in order to publish their works [5].

Particular attention is paid to “ecumenical friendship between Catholics and Orthodox” [6]. Today, the Pokrovsky Gate hosts many different events - from concerts of Russian and Western classical music, children's performances and exhibitions to series of lectures on theological, historical and literary topics. Among the regular guests of the center there are many not only foreign priests and theologians, but also Russian Orthodox figures.

At the origins of “Christian Russia”, together with Fr. Romano was standing by another priest, Father Nilo Cadonna. In Soviet times, he was engaged in transporting spiritual literature to the USSR, and in the nineties he came to Russia and taught Italian at the Russian Orthodox University. After the merger of “Christian Russia” with “Communion and Liberation”, he, together with another priest, Sergio Mercanzini, owner of the famous bookstore on Orthodoxy on Borgo Pio in Rome, left the organization in protest and created his own alternative - (Centre Russia Ecumenica). O. Sergio motivated this step quite primitively: “Scalfi says: what kind of Russia is a Christian country? There are only a small minority of believers there, so we have every right to convert people there to Christianity” [7]. Let us note that in not a single interview with Fr. Romano in Russia does not talk about the full right of Russians to convert to Christianity, but there is no reason not to trust Scalfi’s former comrade, who worked with him for many years. Father Romano comes to us often.

During one of his visits, he gave an interview to the Blagovest-Info Agency for Religious Information and said the following: “The modern crisis of faith is a cry calling for our unity. Mission is an essential quality of Christianity. And modern conditions force ecumenism to be missionary ecumenism, otherwise we are building on sand” [8]. According to Scalfi, ecumenism cannot be proselytism because it comes from personal experience. Its goal should be the desire for unity, agreement in the name of Christ, abiding in the human heart. The main obstacle to ecumenism is disagreement within both Churches, overcoming which believers can come to unity. Its founder sees the goal of “Christian Russia” as “for people in Russia to become real Orthodox, because how can a real Orthodox not love Christ most of all?” [9], and its main task is to work on the “revival of Christianity in the countries of the former USSR” [10], the transfer of its spiritual and cultural heritage to Russia. As we see, Father Romano is not talking about Orthodoxy, but about Christianity.

"Communione e Liberatione" (CL)

Father Romano's friend, the priest Luigi Giussani, became the founder of another famous movement, Communione e liberatione (Communion and Liberation). Recently, Christian Russia and Communication and Liberation merged together. "Comunione e Liberazione" (CL) is a powerful organization: in it priests and laity are united as one. Members of the movement do a lot of work with young people. Fellowship and Liberation as an organization received the blessing of John Paul II in 1982. Today, more than 100,000 Brotherhood members work in 67 countries. Their motto is simple: “The Church must be on the move because it must mobilize the heart (of the people) to the Gospel.” Its founder, Don Luigi Giussani, was interested in Orthodoxy and Russia from his youth, studied Eastern theology with a specialization in Slavophilism, and he also studied American Protestant theology and the rational motivation for faith and joining the Church. So he was well aware of the teachings and philosophical schools of many opponents of Catholicism. In Russia, he was most attracted to the concept of Russian conciliarity. Before the 2005 conclave, Comunione e Liberazione entered into an alliance with another powerful Catholic organization, Opus Dei, and ensured the victory of Cardinal Ratzinger with its support. The head of Russian Catholics, Archbishop Pezzi, belongs to CL.

"The Work of God" ("Opus Dei")

This is one of the most mysterious Catholic organizations, shrouded in mystery and fiction. Not all countries allow the activities of this secular Catholic order within their borders. Officially, Opus Dei appeared in Russia in December 2007, but one of its representatives, A. Havard, said that before the transition to legal status, the organization had been here for 15 years [11]. According to the organization’s official website, “since 1990, members of Opus Dei have regularly traveled from Finland to Moscow and St. Petersburg to provide spiritual support to members of the Cause working in Russia and their friends. On June 26, 2007, a small group of Opus Dei members arrived in Moscow with the goal of opening the first centers of this organization in Russia” [12]. Around the beginning of the last century, the Spanish priest José Maria Escriva saw in a dream the structure of his order, the goal of which was to be a land inhabited by holy people. However, while seeking holiness, the order did not forget about politics: having emerged on the eve of the Spanish Civil War, its members, and these were, first of all, active laymen, took a clear anti-communist position, thanks to which, after the victory of the Franco regime, they were able to occupy many leadership positions. Opus Dei flourished during the pontificate of John Paul II. Some historians do not rule out that it was this organization that helped the Pope take the throne of St. Peter; in gratitude for this, in 1982 he approved Opus Dei as his personal prelature.

Now the order was subordinate to the Pope personally, and not to local bishops. Thus, Wojtyla received into his hands a powerful weapon - eyes and ears on the ground, and the order - power, expressed, first of all, in the freedom of disobedience to the heads of the national Catholic Churches. A lot can be written about this organization. Her existence is surrounded by such a flow of information that it can be very difficult to separate truth from fiction. Let us note only one thing - Opus Dei, or, translated from Latin, “The Work of God,” is not a missionary or charitable organization limited to catechesis or social work, and not a monastic order. This is an extensive, powerful structure, consisting mainly of laity, whose main duty is to carry out the will of the Pope in precisely the areas in which they work, including in politics. It was Opus Dei that, since the pontificate of the Pope from Poland, became one of the main instruments of the Vatican’s international policy, the executors of its not so much spiritual as political interests. And their arrival in Russia is undoubtedly a significant phenomenon and it is not accidental: back in the distant thirties, the founder of the order, Jose Maria Escriva, wrote that Russia is a country “that will, over time, bear abundant fruit” [13].


The “focolary” movement (from the Italian word il focolare - hearth) was born in Italy during World War II and began with a group of girls who decided to live like the first Christians. Today this movement is spread throughout the world. Confessing that God is Love, focolers develop the idea of ​​human involvement in all spheres of life: religious, social, economic and political. One of the features of the movement is “folk ecumenism”: representatives of different Christian denominations can join it. Here is what the official Focolyar website writes about this: “Although the spirituality of Chiara Lubich (the founder of the movement - M.N.) originated in the Catholic Church, it is followed by Christians of various denominations, since the distinctive feature of the Movement community is the complete rejection of any form proselytism, loyalty of each to his Church and at the same time respect, reverence and love for other Churches. In particular, the acceptance of the spirit of the Movement by Orthodox Christians was encouraged by the fact that, starting in 1967, Patriarch Athenagoras I of Constantinople was bound by bonds of strong spiritual friendship with Chiara Lubich.

Many people, having become acquainted with the way of life of the participants of the Movement in different Orthodox countries, began to better understand their place in the Orthodox Church to which they belong; others entered it by being baptized. Remaining faithful children of their Churches, Christians who follow the spirituality of the Movement strive to live in brotherhood with representatives of other faiths, respectfully and with an open heart to conduct dialogue with believers of other religions and people of various beliefs. Chiara Lubich played a pivotal role in dialogue between Christians, promoting the initiatives of the various Churches aimed at making the unity of the followers of Christ increasingly visible. She participated in dialogue with representatives of the world's great religious traditions, knew many of the most authoritative leaders of these religions, and was one of the honorary presidents of the World Conference of Religions for Peace (WCRP)" [14].

Back in the sixties of the twentieth century, focal lenses began to appear in Eastern European countries. Today they exist in Russia. Despite their statements that everyone should remain in their own confession, and, undoubtedly, positive social activities, we must not forget that at their core, the Focollars are a Catholic movement. It also sets itself purely ecumenical goals of uniting Christians on the basis of diverse services on a Catholic foundation. The activities of another organization, Caritas, are intertwined with the Focolaria movement.


Caritas translated from Latin means active love. After the publication of Leo XIII's encyclical "Rerum novarum" ("Spirit of Change") in 1891, an active social assistance movement began among Catholics. In 1897, the German priest Lorenz Wetrmann created the first center for the coordination of social work among the laity and gave it the name “Caritas” (Love). Today, the international charitable organization Caritas is an association of 164 humanitarian Catholic organizations operating in 198 countries. In 1950, the Vatican created the international confederation Caritas Internationalis. Caritas has received consultant status with the UN, UNESCO, the Organization of African Unity and the Council of Europe. Its employees, many of whom are volunteers, work not only in Europe, Africa and America, but also in hot spots. The main task of the organization was and remains social and charitable assistance to a variety of segments of the population. In Russia, this organization appeared at the very beginning of the nineties [15]. Starting with the distribution of humanitarian aid, Caritas moved on to the development of social work in Catholic communities. Today there are branches in all Russian dioceses. The society organizes orphanages, child development centers, and works with the disabled and elderly. Today there are more than 100 Caritas organizations operating on the territory of the Russian Federation.

"The Church in Trouble " ("Kirche in Not")

Many Catholic projects in Russia are carried out with the support of two German organizations - Renovabis and Church in Need. According to the official website of Renovabis, its goal is to strengthen the Church and society in the countries of Central, Eastern and South-Eastern Europe and support various educational, religious and social projects in the post-Soviet territory of these regions [16]. “Church in Trouble” (“Kirche in Not”) ​​is also actively involved in various projects. Thus, it was this foundation that gave money to the radio station “Sofia”, notorious in the Orthodox community for its ecumenism and philocatholism [17], and helped open the Internet project of the Religious Information Agency “Blagovest-info” [18]. The agency was created by the Belarusian Catholic I. Tarasevich (died in 2002). It is necessary to pay tribute to this portal - covering events from the life of the Catholic Church, Blagovest reports news from all major faiths, and often provides space for opponents to discuss. Sometimes Blagovest-info allows for a diametrically opposite interpretation of certain news. It is distinguished by a tolerant attitude towards all religions and religious movements. In addition to movements, many monastic orders also work in Russia. I would like to highlight a few of them.

Salesians (Salesians of Don Bosco) (SDB)

This is one of the most “secular” Catholic orders. Worldly, because his only goal and task is to work with the world, or more precisely, with children. The order was founded by the Italian priest St. Giovanni Bosco specifically for working with street youth. The main direction of his activity is social service and education of the younger generation. In Russia, Salesians are represented in relatively large numbers; in terms of national composition, almost all of them are Poles. It is this order that ministers to the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Moscow. Salesian nuns and lay tertiaries (third order) teach young people in the oratorio (a youth club that combines spiritual exercises with games and activities). Salesians actively cooperate with the charity organization Caritas and run orphanages. Since 2002, in this regard, there has been several noises in the press regarding the conversion of children to Catholicism. True, after in 2005, members of the working group to consider problems in relations between the Russian Orthodox and Roman Catholic Churches agreed that Orthodox clergy should have access to Orthodox children, even if they are in a Catholic orphanage. Since then, children are sometimes brought to the Orthodox Church for baptism. (For example, in 2006 in Moscow, at the Salesian orphanage, Father Igor Vyzhanov (DECR) baptized one of the wards of the order’s Moscow orphanage.). The Salesians also organize summer camps for youth, where representatives of different faiths are invited.

Dominicans (OR)

In 2000, in the post-Soviet space, Dominicans had only one monastery (house). By 2007, four more Ukrainian ones were added to it - in Yalta, Chertkov, Fastov and Kyiv. Historically, the Dominicans, or “dogs of the Lord” (Domini canis), as they were often called in the Middle Ages, were involved in science and education. In 2005, Fr. became the rector of the St. Petersburg house. Geacinth Destivelle. In France he directs a theological research center engaged in ecumenical activities. The center publishes a magazine of the same name. Its themes are devoted primarily to interfaith dialogue. In October 2007, Fr. Geacinth defended his dissertation at St. Petersburg State University on the topic “The Local Council of the Russian Orthodox Church in 1917-18 and the principle of conciliarity.” In 2006, "ISTINA" established the College of St. Vasily. Its goal is to provide Orthodox seminarians with an internship opportunity in France so that they can better understand Western Christianity.

Franciscans (OFMconv) (Brothers Minor Conventual)

This is one of the “oldest” Catholic orders, founded in 1208 by the Catholic Saint Francis of Assisi. The first monks came to post-Soviet Russia in 1993, and in 2001 the Russian General Custody of St. Francis of Assisi, which included three monasteries - in Moscow, Kaluga and St. Petersburg. In 2002, communities from Chernyakhovsk, Astrakhan and Elista joined them. In total, the order has about 40 brothers who came from the CIS countries, the Baltic states, Romania and the USA. The Order is engaged in broad scientific, publishing and educational activities. It has its own publishing house with a store, the magazine “Brother Sun” and a cultural center in Moscow. It was the Franciscans who prepared the multi-volume Catholic Encyclopedia for printing (editor-in-chief A. Yudin). Founded by young monks of a monastery in St. Petersburg, the group “Francis Brothers” is quite popular on the Internet.

Paulinki (daughters of St. Paul)

Women's Missionary Order. They distribute Catholic literature. In Moscow, in addition to the headquarters, they maintain their own publishing house and the Paoline store on Bolshaya Nikitskaya Street. This store offers books not only by Catholic, but also Orthodox authors. The Paoline Publishing House has published in Russian the fundamental documents of the Catholic Church - the documents of the Second Vatican Council, the Catechism of the Catholic Church and the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church.


A missionary order that appeared in Siberia a hundred years ago and was forced to stop its work after the revolution. The main occupation of the monks was preparing and conducting spiritual exercises (revocations) for the people. Now the monks of the order, mostly Poles, are once again conquering the Siberian expanses. Representative offices are located in Kemerovo and Orenburg, Orsk, Prokopyevsk and Petropavlovsk. In 2008, the order celebrated the centenary of its mission in Omsk. There are now five communities with 17 Redemptorists in the country. In the Russian Federation since 1993, the female branch of the order - since 2001. In 1995, the Order opened the College of Catholic Theology in Orenburg. There are communities in Kazakhstan as well.

Jesuits (SI) (Society of Jesus)

In modern Russia, the order was registered on June 21, 1992 as the Independent Russian Region of the Society of Jesus. After the expulsion of General Stanislav Opeli from the country in 2000 as persona non grata, the order was led by the Mexican Octavio Vilches Landin, who was recalled by his leadership to study in 2007. His successor, priest Otto Mesmer, was killed along with his fellow order member Victor Betancourt. The Jesuits were given leadership of the College of Catholic Theology of St. Thomas Aquinas. It contains a library consisting of books not only on Catholic, but also Orthodox topics. One of the most promising Russian Catholic hierarchs, Bishop Joseph Werth (Novosibirsk), belongs to the order. His brother heads the Kana television studio. There is also a center for spiritual development “Inigo”, which is engaged in active educational activities - an open correspondence “Bible course” for everyone, one of the best libraries in philosophy in Russia, in which absolutely everyone can work. The Order publishes periodical magazines “Points” and “Symbol”. As the official website of the Order states, the purpose of its presence in Russia is “pastoral assistance to the Catholic Church in the Russian Federation and the CIS countries and intellectual apostolate” [19].

Speaking about the activities of Catholic orders in Russia, we must remember that they were created in Catholic countries by people who chose the path of serving God and their neighbors. Many of them made a huge contribution to both the spiritual and scientific and pedagogical life of the West. The founders of some of them, like Mother Teresa of Calcutta, revolutionized attitudes towards the poor and disadvantaged people, or like Don Bosco, gave street children the opportunity to get an education and a profession. But we must not forget that these orders came to Russia to missionary and engage in proselytizing activities. Therefore, they are unlikely to abandon their main task - preaching Catholicism. So what is the meaning of its presence in Russia for the Catholic Church? Here is what Archbishop Paolo Pezzi says about this already in the article I quoted: “It seems to me that now we can clearly see the providential meaning of the Catholic presence in Russia: in a traditionally Orthodox country, we can closely examine the experience of the Roman Catholic Church, and this is a necessary preparatory stage, preceding a greater desire and more persistent request to God for the unity of the Churches (emphasis added - M.N.). This presence helps us understand that, in reality, doctrinal unity between the Orthodox and Roman Catholic Churches already exists: what unites us is infinitely greater than what divides us. This is true for the individual Christian and for entire Churches, since the unity of Christians is the greatest testimony to the truth of Christ (cf. John 17:21)” [20]. I think, after all of the above, we can conclude that the Catholic mission in Russia is an attempt to carry out a preparatory stage for the unification with Orthodoxy so desired by Rome, and ultimately its absorption and eventual assimilation with Catholicism.


1. Kartashev A.V. "Essays on the history of the Russian Church." Vol. I. P. 264.

2. Ibid. P. 266.




6. Ibid. E

7. Baunov Alexander. Establishing paternity. Russian Newsweek, N16, 05/01/2005, p. 40-46


9. Ibid.

10. Ibid.

11. Chetverikova Olga. Opus Dei in Russia: political mission? // Strategic Culture Foundation. 2008




15. For a detailed history of Caritas, see






Magazine "Holy Fire"

Spain (32,364,000)

Throughout Spain's history, the country was a battleground between Muslims and Catholics, and this led to aggressive Christian efforts as it gained ground following the conquest of Granada in the 15th century. The Inquisition in Spain was active as early as the early 19th century. Now Catholicism has changed and the modern population does not adhere to the strict rules that it used to have. Only about 15% of Spanish Catholics attend mass every week, despite the fact that many churches have been built throughout the country over the centuries.

Philippines (85,470,000)

The Philippines is the only predominantly Catholic country in Asia, with 81.4% of the population identifying as part of the religion. As in Mexico, the Spanish spread Catholicism to the Philippines as part of their divine mission to “educate” the natives. Researchers viewed the local religion of the area as a form of devil worship and therefore anticipated it. Missionaries came and founded schools and hospitals to educate the Filipinos. The Philippines gained independence in 1898 after being traded to the United States by the Spanish several years earlier, but they did not return to their native religion. The Catholic conquest continues to this day.

Spread around the world

Catholics make up the absolute majority of the population in many countries of Southern, Western and Eastern Europe.

  • There are 45 million adherents of the Roman Catholic Church in Italy,
  • in France - 38 million,
  • Poland - 36 million,
  • Spain - 31 million,
  • Portugal - 9.7 million,
  • Belgium - 8.7 million,
  • Hungary - 6.5 million,
  • Czech Republic - 6.4 million,
  • Austria - 6.2 million,
  • Croatia - 3.4 million,
  • Slovakia - 3.4 million,
  • Ireland - 3.4

In Asia, Catholics make up the majority of the population in two countries - the Philippines (41 million people) and Indonesia-occupied East Timor (over 600 thousand).

There are numerous groups of Catholics in:

  • India (15 million),
  • China (8.7 million, including members of the so-called Catholic Patriotic Association),
  • Vietnam (6 million),
  • Indonesia (5.6 million),
  • Republic of Korea (2.6 million),
  • Sri Lanka (1.1 million),
  • Lebanon (more than 700 thousand).

Brazil (126,880,000)

In Brazil, 126.8 million people are Catholic, representing 61% of the population. The Portuguese brought religion and the first diocese was created in 1551. During colonial rule, Catholicism was imposed, but it remained the official religion of the country even after independence. The government is officially secular, but the church still has a strong influence even today.

Which countries have the most Catholics?

With 126 million Catholics, Brazil has the largest population in the world. There are 98 million Catholics in Mexico and 85 million Catholics in the Philippines.


Catholic Church in the post-Soviet space

An international scientific and practical conference “Russian civilization and the Vatican: is conflict inevitable?” took place in St. Petersburg.

1. Catholic Church in Russia

From 500 thousand to 1,500,000 Catholics live in Russia. Differences in estimates are due to the method of calculation. The first method is to automatically consider representatives of a number of ethnic groups (Poles, 25-30% of Russian Germans, some Armenians, etc.) Catholics. The second method involves taking into account the opinion of the person himself (Russians can also consider themselves Catholics). In any case, the number of Catholics in Russia is small. However, tensions developed between the Catholic Church and the Russian Orthodox Church.

The main problem is Catholic proselytism, i.e. actions of representatives of the Roman Catholic Church aimed at involving in liturgical and other church practices Russians who do not have a historical connection with this Church, but who belong to the Orthodox tradition by baptism and cultural roots. The late Patriarch Alexy II gave the following example (2006): Catholic missionaries create orphanages where Orthodox children are accepted and raised in the Catholic faith[1].

The Catholic side assessed such statements as a denial by the Orthodox Church of freedom of religious choice. “Catholic theology does not accept the term canonical territory,” T. Kondrusiewicz, who led Russian Catholics for 16 years, has repeatedly stated[2]. He claimed that from 2002 to 2008, 500-600 people baptized in Orthodoxy converted to Catholicism; most often unbaptized or unchurched people come to Catholicism[3]. The official position of the Catholic Church is that it should not enter into competition with the Russian Orthodox Church or with other Christian churches present in the same territory. Proselytism is not an approved method of spreading Catholicism.

The figure named by T. Kondrusiewicz looks too insignificant. In all likelihood (as can be understood from the words of the Catholic bishop), we are talking about the transition to Catholicism of church-going Orthodox people. Such cases are indeed rare, as well as cases of converting Orthodox Christians to Islam (an example is Vyacheslav-Ali Polosin). T. Kondrusiewicz did not name the number of unchurched people who converted to Catholicism, who were either baptized in Orthodoxy in childhood, or come from families with Orthodox roots. They are the ones who join the ranks of neophytes of Catholicism, Islam and various non-traditional faiths. Patriarch Alexy II also said in an interview with the magazine “Itogi” that “the object of Catholic expansion has become people who belong to Orthodoxy by baptism, faith, upbringing, culture, attitude, successive tradition, and the Russian Church has no right to neglect its God-given pastoral responsibility for their destinies"[4].

Despite official statements about the renunciation of proselytism, the Catholic Church has a program of expansion into the territory of the former USSR. The minimum program is the spread of Uniatism or Eastern Rite Catholicism. The maximum program is the conversion of the population of Russia and the CIS countries to Catholicism of the Latin rite[5]. The activity of the Catholic Church in the USSR intensified with the beginning of the pontificate of John Paul II (Karol Wojtyla) in 1978. Wojtyla’s nationality and his anti-communist beliefs played a role in this. Poland considers the spread of Uniatism and Catholicism in the territory of the former USSR as its historical mission (45% of Catholic priests serving in Russia came from Poland). In addition, Wojtyła had experience participating in the anti-communist underground, which involved combining politics and religion (which he verbally opposed repeatedly).

The Catholic Church is expanding in Russia and other CIS countries in two directions: through social activities and through attempts at direct political influence. The center of social and charitable activities of the Catholic Church is the international organization Caritas, created in 1897. It has been working in Russia since 1995. Caritas provides assistance to those in need, regardless of their ethnicity, nationality, religion, social status, etc. In Russia, Caritas programs include the provision of food, clothing, medication assistance, free services of a lawyer, psychologist, attorney, and assistance in finding employment. The organization provides patronage for people with disabilities, assistance to families of drug addicts and HIV-infected people, work with children in boarding schools, etc. In conditions where the state is unable to provide social support to the population, people willingly use it, and some convert to Catholicism. The charitable programs of the Russian Orthodox Church cannot always compete with Catholic ones, since Catholics have been conducting social activities of the modern type for more than a hundred years, and the Orthodox Church has long been prohibited from any activity other than the exercise of religious worship.

As the statistics above show, Caritas's success in converting new Catholics is quite modest. The organization is faced with the problem of a lack of volunteers willing to work for free in Caritas projects[6]. At first, Caritas paid high salaries to its employees, but gradually the amount of Western aid to Russia decreased, and finding new employees became problematic. Many Russian projects have already been closed.

In 2007, a representative office of the secular Catholic order “Opus Dei” (“The Cause of God”), founded in 1928, appeared in Moscow.[7] He teaches his followers that religiosity does not require renunciation of the world and that everyone should perform his professional duties in accordance with the spirit of the gospel. Members of the order are deliberately encouraged to become part of the governing elite. Opus Dei seeks to establish control over the intelligentsia and the big bourgeoisie. The activities of the order are characterized by a closed nature (its members are allowed to deny belonging to the organization) and “targeted” work, that is, the involvement of influential figures who become agents of influence of the Vatican[8]. Members of the order who hold high positions ensure the careers of other members of the order. In Opus Dei there is a category of so-called “helpers”, who can be representatives of various Christian denominations, other religions, and even non-believers. But only Catholics - Latin or Eastern rite - can be members of the order.

2. Catholic and Greek Catholic churches in Ukraine

In Ukraine, the confrontation between Catholics (including Catholics of the Eastern rite, that is, Uniates) and Orthodox Christians has become harsh, since religious affiliation is linked to the issue of ethnicity, language and political preferences. Ukrainian Catholics recognize themselves as Ukrainians, strive to minimize the use of the Russian language, and advocate bringing Ukraine closer to Europe, including membership in the EU and NATO. This is the most pro-Western and anti-Russian part of Ukrainian society.

However, the number of Greek Catholics is small. According to polls in March 2009[9], 39% of Ukrainian believers belong to the three main Orthodox churches: the Moscow and Kiev Patriarchates and the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church, 44% called themselves Orthodox without belonging to a particular church, 8% are Greek Catholics, slightly more than 1% are Protestants. According to 2002 data, Catholics of the Latin rite make up about 25% of the Catholic population of Ukraine[10].

In Ukraine, there are acute contradictions between Catholics of the Latin and Eastern rites. A painful topic is the granting of the status of a patriarchal church to the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church (UGCC). The Catholic Church recognizes the historical right of the heads of a number of Eastern Catholic churches to be called patriarchs if they recognize the authority of the pope. Six Eastern Catholic churches have patriarchal status: Armenian, Coptic, Syrian, Melchite, Chaldean and Maronite. However, Rome is in no hurry to grant such status to the UGCC. Eastern patriarchates are extremely small in number, and Ukrainian Uniatism, on the contrary, is in the ascendant stage. The revival of the UGCC is gradually moving beyond the boundaries set by the Vatican.

In 2004, 150 deputies of Ukraine (including V. Yushchenko and Y. Timoshenko) turned to the pope with a request to grant the UGCC patriarchal status. The idea of ​​granting patriarchy to the UGCC, therefore, is not a narrow church problem, but a serious political problem. Behind the request for patriarchal status is a plan to create a single local Ukrainian church, which would include Uniates and Orthodox Christians. This plan means the actual autocephaly of the Ukrainian patriarchate, which nominally recognizes the primacy of Rome. The United Local Church of Ukraine is a nationalist project designed to unite the Ukrainian nation, and not to realize the interests of Rome.

The revival of Greek Catholicism in Ukraine became possible thanks to an alliance with nationalist movements. But today, experts note, the logic of nationalism, which demands absolute independence, is turning against Rome[11]. There they fear the prospect of a reunification of Greek Catholics with the Orthodox (supporters of Mikhail (Filaret) Denisenko) and the formation of a single Ukrainian Patriarchate of the Eastern Rite, virtually independent of the Vatican authorities.

Catholic Church in Belarus

While in Ukraine Catholicism is represented mainly by Greek Catholics (Uniates), in Belarus the number of Uniate communities does not exceed 20. As of June 2008, the number of Eastern Rite Catholics in the country was about 10,000 people. As for Catholics of the Latin rite, they make up 14% of the faithful, united in 456 parishes and four dioceses. Catholicism in Belarus has traditionally been viewed as the religion of ethnic Poles. However, part of the Belarusian opposition - supporters of the European path of development - gravitates towards Catholicism. A significant role in this was played by the course of the Catholic Church towards the Belarusianization of worship and church life, which nationalists also strive for. The Catholic Church in Belarus is actively involved in charity work. Caritas branches are open in all dioceses.

The attitude of the Belarusian state and A. Lukashenko personally towards the Catholic Church is becoming more and more positive. The predictions of analysts are coming true that sooner or later the Belarusian state will see in the Catholic Church a partner to restore its reputation on the world stage. In June 2008, an agreement was reached that the Republic of Belarus and the Roman Catholic Church would prepare for signing a “Cooperation Agreement” (a concordat similar to the one already concluded with the Russian Orthodox Church). In April 2009, A. Lukashenko met with Pope Benedict XVI. This is, of course, one of the signs of the “warming” of relations between Belarus and Western countries. However, Lukashenko made it clear that he does not seek to worsen relations with Russia. He proposed holding a meeting of the Patriarch of Moscow and All Rus' with the Pope on the territory of Belarus[12]. This idea looks promising, but the leadership of the Russian Orthodox Church has not yet expressed readiness to implement it.

3. Catholicism in Central Asian countries

After the collapse of the USSR, the number of “ethnic Catholics” (for example, Germans, Poles and Lithuanians expelled to Kazakhstan) in Central Asia began to decline rapidly. Nevertheless, the Catholic community of Kazakhstan is still the leader in number among Central Asian countries. The authorities of Kazakhstan have a favorable attitude towards Catholicism. In 1998, a special agreement was concluded between the Pope and the Republic of Kazakhstan regulating the position of the Catholic Church in the country. In September 2001, John Paul II visited Kazakhstan. Representative offices of Caritas and Opus Dei operate in the country. A number of Greek Catholics deported from the western regions of Ukraine after 1939 also live in Kazakhstan (in Karaganda).

The situation in other Central Asian states is sharply different from Kazakhstan. In Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Azerbaijan, there are tiny Catholic communities numbering from 3,000 to 120 people. The status of the structures of the Catholic Church in these countries is designated by the term “mission sui iuris” (mission of its own right). This concept denotes church missionary territories that are not included in other church-administrative entities. The heads of missions sui iuris are also the diplomatic representatives of the Vatican as a state in their countries of residence.

The leadership of the Central Asian countries has a sharply negative attitude towards any form of proselytism by Catholics towards Muslims (proselytism is prohibited by law in Uzbekistan). Muslims who convert to Christianity can be beaten or even killed. But we should not forget about the successes of Catholic proselytism in Asian countries among members of oppressed ethnic and social groups (for example, the “untouchable” castes in India). However, Catholic proselytism towards Muslims is less significant than towards Orthodox Christians living in Central Asian countries. On this basis, the Russian Orthodox Church again receives grounds to accuse Catholics of encroaching on its canonical territory.

4. Catholicism in the South Caucasus

In this region, Catholicism is represented mainly by the Eastern Catholic churches (Uniate). The largest South Caucasian Uniate church is the Armenian Catholic Church, which arose as a result of the union of part of the Armenian Apostolic Church with the Vatican. About 8% of all Armenians (including the Diaspora) belong to it. In 1997, 150 thousand lived in Armenia, and 50 thousand Armenian Catholics lived in Georgia. Catholic Armenians also live in Russia (54 thousand) and Ukraine. In Armenia, Catholics are a religious minority. In 2001, the pope visited Armenia, demonstrating the state’s loyalty to Catholic Armenians. Caritas is active in the country.

The situation in Georgia is somewhat different. In 2003, the Georgian government refused to sign a concordat with the Vatican, similar to the one already signed with the Georgian Orthodox Church. The pope's visit to Georgia (1999) was marked by the fact that the Georgian Patriarch and the hierarchs of the Church refused to attend the liturgy he performed. The Patriarchate also addressed a statement to members of the Church, urging them to refrain from attending the papal service, since the presence of Orthodox Christians at Catholic services is unacceptable[13]. However, for the Georgian government, contacts with the Catholic Church remain a sign of commitment to European values ​​and a desire to integrate the country into the EU and NATO. The Catholic Church carries out many charitable programs in Georgia, especially for young people.

There is a minority Catholic community in Azerbaijan (including “locals”, foreigners and Armenian Catholics), but Catholics carry out extensive charitable activities. In May 2002, John Paul II paid an official visit to Baku and celebrated a mass that attracted several thousand people (it is difficult to say how many of them were Catholics). The Azerbaijani government in this way emphasized its “tolerance” towards all religions.

Catholicism in Moldova does not have a noticeable influence on the life of the republic and therefore, in our opinion, does not deserve special analysis.


The opinion of the Russian Orthodox Church about the danger of Catholic proselytism in Russia seems unjustifiably alarming. The transition of a small part of the “nominal” Orthodox Christians to Catholicism does not threaten the security of Russia. Our country's international image has already suffered enough from accusations of suppressing freedom of conscience. It is obvious that whatever the actual situation, in the eyes of the Catholic Church and most Western states, any repressive measures against Catholics look like an unjustified use of government agencies to forcefully suppress the activities of a respectable world religious organization. Therefore, direct government intervention in inter-church relations (such as the termination of the visas of a number of Catholic priests in 2002) should be avoided.

It is impossible to deny that the Catholic Church in the 20th century repeatedly interfered in the affairs of sovereign states and even contributed to unconstitutional activities (an example is the use of Catholic priests to finance the Solidarity movement in Poland by the West). However, this happened in countries where Catholics made up the majority of the population. A massive conversion of the Russian population to Catholicism is not possible for the following reasons:

— The Catholic Church is in a deep crisis and is incapable of mass proselytism. It is experiencing huge staffing problems, so even in “Catholic” countries, a significant portion of priest vacancies remain unfilled. All over the world (even in Latin America) the Catholic Church is retreating as Pentecostalism and other forms of Protestantism spread.

— the special attention of the Catholic Church to Russia and the post-Soviet space was largely due to the personal interest of John Paul II. The arrival of Benedict XVI should have a positive impact on relations both between churches and between Russia and the Catholic Church, since they will no longer be burdened with the burden of the history of Russian-Polish conflicts.

It appears, however, that Opus Dei, like any secret organization, potentially threatens the internal and external security of Russia. Members of the order do not hide the fact that, being employees of government bodies, they do not realize the interests of the state, but the interests of the Catholic Church (at the same time, they can keep their membership secret).

In Russia there are so-called “crypto-Catholics”, that is, formally Orthodox (including priests), secretly professing Catholicism[14]. Pope Pius X (1903-1914) also allowed the Orthodox clergy, accepted into the union, not to say “Filioque” (“and from the Son”) during the reading of the Creed, not to remember the pope, to pray for the Holy Synod, etc. Eastern Rite recognizes the veneration of Russian saints canonized by the Orthodox Church. This allows secret Catholics to conduct pro-Catholic activities, performing the functions of Orthodox priests. Their activity must be monitored in case it acquires an anti-state character.

Catholicism in Ukraine poses a serious danger, since Russia’s spiritual and cultural influence on this republic can be reduced to zero, after which Ukraine will fall out of the Russian geopolitical space, becoming a NATO member and an EU partner. The formation of a single Ukrainian church, which would include the current UGCC, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kyiv Patriarchate and, possibly, other Orthodox churches, would lead to the complete loss of Ukraine for the Russian Orthodox Church, and therefore for Russian influence in general. This project is contrary to Russian interests. Therefore, Russia needs to use all means to oppose giving the UGCC the status of a patriarchal church. One of the tools for such counteraction is pressure on the Vatican. But it is not always productive, since the UGCC has moved far away from Latin Rite Catholicism and may not obey the decision of Rome. It is in Russia’s interests to deepen the existing contradictions between Catholics of the Latin and Eastern rites, and in the future, to withdraw the UGCC from the influence of Rome. To achieve these goals, it seems reasonable to act not directly, but through pro-Russian Orthodox forces in Ukraine. These forces need the help of the Russian state, both material and moral.

The proposal of the President of Belarus to hold a meeting between Patriarch Kirill and Pope Benedict XVI in his country should be seriously considered. Decisive, of course, remains the opinion of the Church, but it is necessary to try to convince its leadership of the necessity and desirability of such a meeting to realize Russian interests and improve Russia’s image in the world. The meeting would also make a significant contribution to the normalization of Russian-Belarusian relations.

Anastasia Vladimirovna Mitrofanova, Doctor of Pedagogical Sciences, Head of the Center for Euro-Atlantic Studies of the Diplomatic Academy of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia

[1] Interview of His Holiness Patriarch Alexy with the French magazine Paris Match. November 10, 2006 February 15, 2009 was on the Internet at:

[2] See, for example: Archbishop Kondrusiewicz rejected the accusation of Catholics of proselytism \\ NewsRu.Com. December 20, 2001 was on the Internet at:

[3] Khramov A. Archbishop Tadeusz Kondrusiewicz said goodbye to Russia \\ Credo.Ru. October 18, 2007 was on the Internet at:

[4] The challenge of this age. Interview of His Holiness Patriarch of Moscow and All Rus' Alexy II to the Itogi magazine. May 6, 2003 was on the Internet at:

[5] In April 1925, a commission “Pro Russia” was organized in Rome at the Congregation of Eastern Churches, officially intended to help Catholics in the Soviet Union and Russian emigration in Europe. Its leader, Michel d'Herbigny, repeatedly visited the Soviet Union in the 1920s, where he established connections with the government and the leaders of renovationism. In 1929, the Jesuit College Russicum was opened in Rome to train missionaries of the Eastern Rite (closed in 2002).

[6] See: Russians are in no hurry to become volunteers. Interview with the Deputy Director of Caritas for the European part of Russia, Fr. Roman Deyna \\ Online magazine “Brother Sun”. 2005. No. 1. February 15, 2010, located on the Internet at:

[7] Since 1982, Opus Dei has been the personal prelature of the pope, not always subordinate to local church authorities. In the same year, John Paul II began the process of canonization of the founder of the order, Josemaria Escriva de Balaguer. In 1992, the pope beatified Father Josemaría, and in 2002, he beatified him. It is obvious that John Paul II shared the goals and methods of the order.

[8] See: Chetverikova O.N. Opus Dei in Russia: a political mission? \\ Electronic publication “Strategic Culture Foundation”. April 7, 2008 was on the Internet at:

[9] Sociologists: Ukraine is the most religious country in the world \\ March 27, 2009 was on the Internet at:

[10] A new Catholic diocese of the Latin rite was created in Ukraine \\ Sedmitsa.Ru. March 29, 2002 was on the Internet at:

[11] Petrushko V.I. Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church: current state \\ Website “Education and Orthodoxy”. February 15, 2010 was on the Internet at:

[12] A. Lukashenko proposed holding a meeting between Patriarch Alexy II and Pope Benedict XVI in Belarus \\ Russian line. September 24, 2008 was on the Internet at:

[13] The visit of the Pope put the Georgian Orthodox Church in a difficult position \\ Orthodox newspaper - Yekaterinburg. Internet version. 1999. No. 21. February 15, 2010 was on the Internet at:

[14] For more details, see: Kaverin N. Secret Uniateism. crypto-Catholicism in the Orthodox Church. February 15, 2010 was on the Internet at:

Catholic Church by country

Catholic Church

is "a Catholic communion of churches, both Roman and Eastern, or Oriental, which are in full communion with the Bishop of Rome." The church is also known to members as the People of God, the Body of Christ, the "Temple of the Holy Spirit" and other names. According to Vatican II's Gaudium et CSN, "The Church has but one single purpose, that the Kingdom of God may come and the salvation of the race of man may be achieved."

This community of churches includes the Latin Church (or Roman or Western Church), as well as 23 Eastern Catholic Churches, canonically called sui juris

, each of which is headed by either a patriarch or a major archbishop who fully supports the Holy See. Historically, these bodies separated from Eastern Christian communities to either remain within the Catholic Church or return to full communion with it. However, the Vatican II Decree on the Eastern Catholic Churches explicitly recognizes Eastern Catholic communities as “true churches” and not just rites within the Catholic Church. This Community of Churches “exists between the individual churches and dioceses of the universal Catholic Church. Its structural expression is the College of Bishops, each of whom represents and embodies his own local church.”

The four archbishops of the Latin Church are also called patriarchs. This is only a title, but gives them an advantage in the papal environment. In the case of the Patriarch of Venice, he may wear the red robe of a cardinal. Archbishops and bishops govern individual dioceses as successors to the twelve apostles. They are responsible for the ordination, appointment and supervision of parish priests, and for the supervision of all ecclesiastical affairs within their diocese, with the exception of the internal affairs of religious orders of papal law. If the responsibility associated with a particular diocese is great, the bishop may be assisted by one or more auxiliary bishops, who are given a titular see. A diocese may also have a coadjutor bishop (coadjutor archbishop in the case of a diocese), who is effectively a "co-regent" of the diocese and automatically succeeds to the office of bishop whenever the current bishop leaves office. The title of primate refers to the bishop of the first diocese in a country or territory, which has usually become a metropolitan archdiocese, but has no additional powers.

The Catholic Church is “the world’s oldest continuously operating international

institution." It is also the largest non-governmental provider of education and health care in the world, and the Holy See's diplomatic status facilitates access to its extensive international network of charities.

Text of the book “Ethnocultural Regions of the World”

§ 22. Southern Europe - the cradle of Catholicism

The term "Catholicism" comes from the Greek word catholikos
, which means "universal, universal." This implies the worldwide, international status of the Roman Catholic Church. But she is not alone in these claims. The Orthodox Church also calls itself catholic, that is, universal, conciliar. The head of the Armenian Apostolic Church is the Catholicos of All Armenians. However, the term “Catholic” was firmly assigned to the followers of the Roman Church. Why? Largely because this is the largest branch of Christianity, whose followers live on all continents of the world.

Map 7. Number of Catholics by country of the world

How and when did Catholicism begin?

The Roman Catholic Church considers itself the successor to the ancient Christian Church. Catholics believe that only they have preserved unchanged the spirit of Christianity inherent in the first centuries of its existence. According to legend, the first Christian Roman bishop (that is, the Pope of Rome) was the Apostle Peter - the beloved disciple of Christ and his most faithful follower, as the fathers of the Catholic Church characterize the apostle. Therefore, the main temple of all Catholics is St. Peter's Basilica in Rome. Criticized by other Christian denominations for excessively exalting Peter, singling him out from the other apostles, Catholics appeal to the Gospel, where Peter is called “the rock on which Christ founded his church.” In favor of his exclusivity, they believe, is also evidenced by the fact that Peter, the only one of all the apostles, is repeatedly called by name in the Holy Scriptures, while the rest of the apostles are mentioned as a single group; The frequent designation of Peter as the first of the apostles is also indicated.

The appearance of the Christian church in Rome dates back to 50 AD. e., but then Christianity in the world was united, and the emergence of Catholicism cannot be associated with this date. At the beginning of the 4th century, after a long struggle and many sacrifices, Christianity became the state religion of the Roman Empire, but already in 395 the empire was divided into Western and Eastern. A schism, albeit not immediately, befell the Christian Church. In 1054, the Pope and the Patriarch of Constantinople subjected each other to an anathema (removed only in 1965), from that moment on, the Western and Eastern Christian churches are considered officially separated, Catholicism was finally separated from Orthodoxy, although in fact this happened centuries earlier. All saints canonized before the mid-11th century are recognized equally by both Catholics and Orthodox. For example, in Russia you can find churches consecrated in memory of Pope Clement I (lived at the end of the 1st century AD, known as the author of theological works). And, it would seem, the exclusively Orthodox Saints Cyril and Methodius, who preached the faith of Christ in the eastern lands, are equally revered by Catholics, because they lived in the 9th century.

In the 16th century The Roman Catholic Church suffered another split: as a result of the Reformation, Protestant churches emerged from it, which we will talk about in the next lecture. Since then, neither the geography nor the teaching of the Church has changed significantly.

Fundamentals of the Catholic Faith

Catholicism is one of the branches of Christianity, therefore the basis of its teaching is the belief in Jesus Christ as the Son of God, who came into the world to atone for the sins of man, crucified on the cross, ascended to heaven and is expected in the second coming. Catholics, like Orthodox Christians, recognize all seven Christian sacraments, but with some differences. Catholics honor the books of the Old and New Testaments as sacred. However, they accept the Old Testament in a slightly different form than the Orthodox. The Roman Catholic Church, like the Orthodox Church, believes that the salvation of people can only be achieved through the mediation of the clergy, which is very clearly separated from the laity. Catholics, just like Orthodox Christians, venerate the Mother of God, angels, and saints. Just like the Orthodox, the cult of relics and sacred relics became widespread among them.

There are certainly fewer dogmatic differences between Catholics and Orthodox Christians than between Catholics and Protestants. However, these dogmas have existed for centuries and are an insurmountable obstacle to restoring the unity of the Christian Church (Table 3).

Table 3

Main dogmatic differences between Orthodoxy and Catholicism

The most important heresies of Catholics, from the point of view of the Orthodox, are the recognition of the supremacy and infallibility of the Pope, the descent of the Holy Spirit not only from God the Father, but also from God the Son (filioque was added to the Catholic sacred books in Latin

- “and son”), the dogma of the supererogatory merits of Christ, the Mother of God and the saints. I would like to dwell on the latter in more detail, since the Orthodox regard this norm as the height of hypocrisy and immorality. Catholics believe that Christ, the Mother of God and the saints in their earthly lives atoned for much more sins than humanity had accumulated by that time. The Catholic Church has the right to dispose of the resulting treasury of good deeds at its own discretion. It is this dogma that explains the practice of issuing indulgences - papers confirming the atonement of sins and given to believers in exchange for certain gifts or funds given to the church.

The passion for “commerce” can also be seen in another Catholic dogma - the doctrine of purgatory, adopted at the Council of Florence in 1439. The Catholic Church is of the opinion that not every human soul can immediately go to heaven or hell according to its merits. Usually souls go through purgatory, where through severe trials they are freed from minor sins, in order to then go to heaven. The length of stay in purgatory depends on prayers and can be shortened if relatives of the deceased make offerings to the church.

Monasticism has developed greatly in Catholicism

Monks form communities - orders, of which more than a hundred are known throughout the history of the church. The most common orders have a specific specialization. For example, the Order of the Dominicans (Latin domini cani
- dogs of the Lord), which received its name from St. Dominic, is the intellectual flower of the Catholic Church, the center of book wisdom, they are entrusted with polemics with other directions of Christianity on issues of theology and philosophy. The Franciscan Order (on behalf of St. Francis of Assisi) is called upon to provide assistance to the poor and disadvantaged. The Benedictine Order (the oldest of the Catholic orders, founded in the 4th century) “oversees” cultural issues. The widely known Jesuit order was founded in the 16th century. specifically to combat heresy and the Reformation by force.

Catholic worship - Mass

. As a rule, it is held very magnificently, organ music is used. Catholic churches do not have an iconostasis separating the altar from the rest of the church; all sacraments of worship are performed in front of the believers, who during the service can sit on special benches (very often they have a special shelf for kneeling). Catholic churches are not decorated with frescoes, but sculpture is widely used, windows are painted with colored stained glass, and compositions of dolls are often made, telling about one or another Christian holiday (Christmas, Epiphany, etc.).

unions are also considered Catholics in a broad sense.

(alliances) with the Roman Catholic Church. Uniates recognize the primacy of the Pope, purgatory, the procession of the Holy Spirit and from God the Son, but at the same time they enjoy some canonical liberties - the marriage of priests, worship in their native language, and the preservation of the rites of the eastern branches of Christianity are allowed. The most numerous Uniate Church is the Ukrainian Greek Catholic, created as a result of the Union of Brest-Litovsk in 1596. It has about 7 million believers living mainly in the west of Ukraine (Lviv, Ivano-Frankivsk and Ternopil regions). There are relatively small groups of believers who have entered into a union with the Roman Catholic Church and continue to perform the rites of the Armenian Apostolic, Ethiopian, Georgian Orthodox, Russian Orthodox and other Eastern churches. All of them are most often counted among Catholics.

Culture of the Catholic World

The most established and visible symbols of Catholic culture are, first of all, temple buildings. The Roman Catholic Church tried to assert its power through visual propaganda - the creation of immortal works of architects. The power and influence of Rome are manifested in St. Peter's Cathedral, Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, St. Stephen's Cathedral in Vienna, and in numerous exceptionally magnificent temples in Spain, the most grandiose of which is the Sagrada Familia, created by the genius of the architect A. Gaudi in Barcelona , - these silent witnesses, and sometimes active participants in the entire history of their states, and in Polish and Lithuanian churches, through which Rus' became acquainted with Western European architecture.

A Catholic church, as a rule, is magnificent in form, decor and interior. The general traditional scheme of its structure has not changed for centuries. Only in recent decades has postmodernism penetrated into this previously closed sphere. Now we can marvel at the cathedral of the Brazilian capital Brasilia (architect Oscar Niemeyer), reminiscent of an Indian hut made of glass and concrete. Many shocking projects of Catholic churches have been implemented in Poland.

In the cities of the Catholic ethnocultural region, the cathedral occupies a central place; in the rectangular grids of Latin American capitals planned from scratch, it has a position on the main square of the country. The most important Catholic church, the heart of the Church, is St. Peter's Basilica in Rome.

European painting, both the Romanesque period and the Renaissance, is inseparable from Catholicism. Michelangelo Buonarotti, Raphael Santi, Giotto, Donatello and many other famous masters worked on the decoration of Catholic churches. Classical music, especially Italian, French and Austrian, was born within the mainstream of Catholic culture. Organ

- the only musical instrument allowed in the Catholic church - entered the world musical culture along with the names of Bach and Handel. Using Catholic culture as a breeding ground, Latin was able to spread throughout the scientific community of the modern world.

Ethnic characters

Southern nature - hot sun, warm sea, bright vegetation - formed the special qualities of representatives of Catholic peoples: expansiveness, sociability, pride, self-confidence, the desire to live widely. Not only the Catholic peoples of southern Europe, but also the Catholic “northerners” have an ardent character. The tenacity and rebellious spirit of the Irish, unbroken by centuries of oppression by the British, are well known. Compared to their surroundings, the Lithuanians and Poles are quite expansive, rightfully proud of the fact that as a couple they had one of the largest European states of all time - the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth.

Catholic pilgrimage centers

The main center of pilgrimage in the Catholic world is the Vatican

. This is the smallest state in the world, with an area of ​​only 0.44 km2 with an external border length of 2.6 km, located inside Rome, and has an influence on world politics incomparable to its size. Nominally, fewer than 800 people live in the Vatican, but in fact the authorities of this country can speak on behalf of more than a billion Catholics. The diplomatic influence of the Vatican is very great; the papal envoy - the nuncio - formally heads the embassy corps in Catholic countries.

According to the form of government, the Vatican is an absolute theocratic monarchy. The head of state, the Pope, is elected for life by secret ballot by a majority vote (two-thirds) of a conclave of cardinals (no more than 120 people, no one should be over 80 years old). The Pope has supreme legislative, executive and judicial power. The central governing body of the Vatican is the Roman Curia, headed by the Pope. In April 2005, German Cardinal Joseph Alois Ratzinger became Pope, the 265th in a row, under the name of Benedict XVI. The election of a German to the Holy See occurred for the first time in modern history. Before him, for 27 years, the Pope was the Pole Karol Wojtyla, who led the church under the name of John Paul II. Before him, only Italians became popes for the last 450 years.

The predecessor of the Vatican was the Papal States, ruled by the Popes, which lost its independence as a result of the unification of Italy at the end of the 19th century. The Vatican was created according to the Lateran Agreements between the Holy See and the Italian government, concluded in 1929.

Outside its state borders, the Vatican, using its rights of extraterritoriality, owns early Christian basilicas of the 4th century, the Lateran Palace of the 16th century, the summer residence of the Pope in Castel Gandolfo (17th century) and some other buildings granted to the Vatican in Rome and its environs.

Sources of income for the Vatican: voluntary donations from believers and various church institutions, collections from taxes on the church, income from investments in various investment projects, foreign tourism, issue of postage signs, production and sale of souvenirs (coins, photographs of shrines, church utensils, etc.).

The official symbols of the Vatican are associated with Catholicism. The state flag is a square panel consisting of two equal vertical stripes - yellow and white. In the center of the white stripe are crossed gold and silver keys under the papal tiara. The keys symbolize the right of the first Bishop of Rome, Apostle Peter, to decide the fate of believers. The golden key is “permissive”, the silver one is “prohibiting”. Tiara is the headdress of the Pope, a symbol of his power.

Vatican shrines, including St. Peter's Basilica, are visited by 8 million pilgrims annually. The peak of pilgrimage arrivals occurs around Catholic Easter. In addition to Roman shrines, the most important centers of pilgrimage for Catholics are Santiago de Compostela in Spain, Czestochowa in Poland, Lourdes in France, Fatima in Portugal.

Santiago de Compostela

Galician city, named after Saint James (Jacob, in Spanish Iago); Here in the cathedral his remains rest. In 1478, the pilgrimage to Santiago by the Pope was equated in a spiritual sense with the pilgrimage to Rome. Upon arrival in the city, pilgrims present a special document at the cathedral - a “pilgrim’s passport”, introduced during the Middle Ages, with marks made at the obligatory church points along the way. Only after this can they receive a “Compostela certificate” written in Latin. The pilgrim needs to give a sincere answer to the question of the church authorities about what intentions he set out on the journey, and if his thoughts do not correspond to piety, then he is given a different type of document.


The city in southwestern France annually receives 5–6 million pilgrims who want to touch the miracle. Among them are 70–100 thousand sick people hoping for healing. In 1858, the Virgin Mary appeared to the residents of Lourdes 18 times. She pointed out a place in the grotto where it was necessary to dig up the ground, and from there a spring of healing water began to flow. The Grotto of Massabielle became a center of worship, the Catholic Church recognized Lourdes as a holy place and created a system for recording and verifying miracles that had happened. The second largest underground church in the world with a capacity of 30 thousand worshipers was built in Lourdes.


This village became known to the entire Catholic world in 1917, when the Mother of God appeared to three children tending sheep and told them revelations about the future. The Roman Catholic Church has not yet disclosed the details of these revelations. A large temple was built in Fatima, elevated to the rank of a cathedral by the Vatican. Hundreds of thousands of people visit Fatima every year.

Like all Christians, Catholics attach great spiritual importance to pilgrimages to the Holy Land and visiting places associated with the earthly life of Jesus Christ (Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Lake Tiberias).

Information sources

1. Official website of the Vatican:

2. Current information about the structure of the Catholic Church (cathedras, priests, church history, number of believers by country and dioceses):

3. News of the world of religions:

4. Catholic Church in Russia:

Questions and tasks

1. Why is the Roman Catholic Church considered universal?

1. How did the natural environment influence the culture of the Roman Catholic ethnocultural region?

2. On the map “The number of Catholics by country of the world,” draw the border of the Roman Catholic ethnocultural region. Which countries with significant Catholic communities (more than 1 million people) are outside its borders? What is this connected with?

3. Why do you think Catholic countries missed out on world leadership by handing it over to Protestant countries?

§ 23. Protestantism - the core of Western civilization
History of Protestantism

Protestants began to be called participants in the All-German Congress (Reichstag) in the city of Speyer, who signed a “protest” - a document in which they openly expressed disagreement with the ban imposed on reforms within the Roman Catholic Church. Later this name was transferred to everyone who refused to recognize the spiritual authority of the Pope. Initially, Protestants did not set out to oppose anything; their demands were quite moderate: to return to early Christianity, to cleanse the Catholic Church of the layers of later periods that made it difficult to concentrate on faith in God. It is no coincidence that a group of Protestants in England and Scotland later became known as Puritans (from the Latin purus

- clean).


The term “Protestantism” comes from the Latin word protestans (genitive case – protestantis), which means “proving.” The semantics of the word is interesting: there is no contra in it, only pro. This means that the literal and, perhaps, original translation of the word “protest” is still a statement “for” and not “against”.

Map 8. Number of Protestants by country of the world

Catholicism limited freedom of enterprise and trade, irritated believers with the omnipotence of the Popes and high taxes in favor of churches and monasteries. There was also growing discontent over the sale of indulgences. The massive departure from Catholicism and the transition to Protestantism among part of the European population (especially northern Europeans) was called the Reformation. The Reformation took place in the 16th century, but even in the previous century, Protestant ideas were popular in Europe, expressed by Jan Hus in the Czech Republic and Girolamo Savonarola in Italy. However, these nascent reform movements were suppressed by the Catholic Church, and both “heretics” were executed.

The official birthday of Protestantism is considered to be October 31, 1517. On this day, in Wittenberg, Germany, the Catholic monk Martin Luther openly presented ninety-five theses, which condemned the Roman Catholic Church. Luther identified the Holy Scripture, that is, the Bible, as the only source of Christian doctrine. He called personal faith the main way to save the soul. Martin Luther, who accused the Pope of inculcating teachings contrary to the Holy Scriptures, was excommunicated from the Church in 1520. But criticism of the positions of the Roman Catholic Church found wide support among the clergy, students and upper class of Germany, and from Germany it spread to other European countries.

The second center of the Reformation formed in the 30s. XVI century in Switzerland and was associated with the name of John Calvin. His version of Protestantism was more ascetic and strict. Preaching in Geneva and Basel, Calvin achieved significant success, converting most of the local residents to his faith. But the Reformation did not take place triumphantly throughout Europe. For example, French Protestant Huguenots were exterminated during the notorious Night of St. Bartholomew (August 24, 1572), and then persecuted during long religious wars. By the beginning of the 17th century. Protestantism strengthened mainly in the northern half of Europe.

Basics of teaching

Protestantism shares common Christian ideas about the existence of God, his trinity, the immortality of the soul, and the afterlife. At the same time, Protestantism brings to the fore three new principles: salvation by personal faith, the priesthood of all believers, and the exclusive authority of Holy Scripture. According to the teachings of Protestantism, original sin perverted the nature of man, deprived him of the ability to do good, therefore he can be saved only through personal faith in the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ.

Every Christian after baptism has everything to communicate with God without intermediaries, therefore in Protestantism the church hierarchy is abolished, there is no confession and absolution, monasteries and monasticism.

Protestant religious buildings are free from magnificent decoration, altars, icons, statues and bells. Protestants do not have worship services in the full sense of the word; they are replaced by prayer meetings, which include the singing of hymns, reading the Bible and sermons. Some of the Protestant churches celebrate holidays associated with the name of Christ - Easter, Christmas, Epiphany, Candlemas, Ascension, Annunciation, etc. In some Protestant denominations, any priestly vestments are completely abolished, and services are performed in ordinary clothes.

The main responsibility of a Protestant believer is to study and independently interpret the Bible. Protestants believe that a person’s chosenness by God is manifested not after his death, but during his lifetime - through success in business, study, and career. The principle of a universal priesthood laid the foundation for a comparatively democratic structure of communities. It is no coincidence that Protestantism considers a republic to be the most harmonious model of government, while traditional Catholicism and Orthodoxy consider a monarchy. The presence of a large number of monarchies within Protestant Europe (Great Britain, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, the Netherlands) seems to refute this thesis. However, these monarchies are very limited, practically nothing depends on the kings and queens, such a system was established in these countries centuries ago, and following it is a tribute to tradition. The parting with the monarchical system in the Catholic and Orthodox countries of Europe occurred much later and more dramatically (examples can be given in Italy, Portugal, Russia, Bulgaria, Romania, Austria).

Protestantism stands guard over civil liberties of a person, such as freedom of conscience and protection of property - this demonstrates its democracy, of which not a trace remains in the totalitarian sects of marginal Protestantism (Jehovah's Witnesses, Mormons, etc.).

Protestants believe that it is not man created for faith, but faith for man, therefore excessive pomp and complexity only harms the church, bringing enrichment to the priestly class, and not to ordinary believers. According to the Orthodox and Catholics, Protestants offer people a lightweight Christianity, adapted to a fallen and sinful person, incapable of leading to spiritual elevation, much less to salvation.

Table 4

Main dogmatic differences between Protestantism and other branches of Christianity

Protestants do not venerate the relics and places of life of saints, so pilgrimage in Protestantism has not received much development. But missionary work designed to increase the number of Protestant denominations is very widespread. Due to the fact that in Protestant churches every believer can interpret the Bible, the number of preachers is limited only by the number of Protestants themselves. The most eloquent and famous of them go on tours around the world, trying to convince potential flocks of the truth of their faith. Protestant missionaries often lack a sense of tact and propagate their views too aggressively, and look after the members of their communities too zealously. This expansion leads to significant problems in those countries where Protestantism is not a traditional religious system (for example, in Russia). At times it seems that Protestant missionaries and their church organizations are deliberately provoking interfaith conflicts. Of the latest examples, the most indicative is the taking hostage in Afghanistan of a group of South Korean missionaries, thoughtlessly sent by their leadership to one of the most hot spots of the modern world to certain death.

Protestantism is characterized by the desire to integrate different movements of Christianity (not only Protestant), which found expression in the creation in 1948 of the World Council of Churches. This movement is known as ecumenism (from the Greek οἰκουμένη - inhabited world) and aims to strengthen the influence of religion and limit atheism. The ecumenical church is a worldwide church.

Main currents of Protestantism in Europe

Protestantism initially spread mainly in the northern part of the Northern Hemisphere. Protestant countries are the main centers of the industrial revolution of the New Age, world economic leaders of the 17th–20th centuries. It was Protestantism that served as the ideological and religious basis for the development of capitalism, since it was most focused on supporting private property and freedom of enterprise.

In Europe, Protestants predominate in Great Britain, Norway, Sweden, Iceland, Denmark, Finland, Estonia, the northern parts of Germany and the Netherlands. There are relatively many adherents of Protestantism in Switzerland, Hungary, and Latvia. The border between Protestants and Catholics in Western Europe is primarily the border between the appropriating and producing economies. In northern European countries it is too cold to provide food for yourself. To acquire them, it was necessary to revive trade and achieve free competition, and this was unthinkable given the predominance of semi-feudal Catholic relations in society.

Protestantism is not a single religious system; it is divided into several movements, sometimes diverging very far in dogmatics. Lutheranism and Anglicanism are closest to Catholicism; they have preserved, albeit in a revised form, many common Christian rituals.

The emergence of Lutheranism

associated with the name of Martin Luther.
It has become widespread in the northern part of Germany, Scandinavian countries (including Finland), Estonia, Latvia, Greenland, and Namibia. Lutherans retained elements of the Catholic liturgy (worship). Lutheran churches are called churches (from German Kirche
- “church”), in them, unlike Protestant houses of worship, there is a crucifix and an altar, candles are lit, and wall paintings are allowed. Lutheran clergy - pastors - wear church vestments during services. Pastors are elected and remain in office for life. In Lutheran churches, a woman can become a pastor.


- a Protestant movement that spread in England and former British colonies. To this day, there is no clear doctrine in the Anglican Church; it combines Lutheran and Catholic dogmas. The provisions of Protestantism about salvation by personal faith and Catholicism about the saving power of the church are combined. The head of the church is the British monarch (now Elizabeth II), who appoints bishops, the main of whom is the Archbishop of Canterbury. The Anglican Church differs from other Protestant churches in having a clear church hierarchy.


comes from the teachings of John Calvin, considered man to be a being with an exclusively sinful nature. Calvinists believe that the fate of every person is predetermined by God even before birth: those who are marked by God's grace are successful in study and business, only they will achieve salvation, while those who fail are destined for hell. Calvinists deny any images in temples and special vestments for those performing rituals. Calvinism occupies the strongest positions in Scotland, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Hungary, the American states of New England (Massachusetts, Connecticut, etc.), South Africa, where it is professed by Afrikaners (Boers). Each Calvinist community is formally independent and is not subordinate to another community.

Protestant culture and ethics

Protestant culture cannot be as clearly defined as, for example, Catholic or Orthodox. This is due to the complexity of the structure and internal contradictions of Protestantism. Some directions of Protestantism allow and welcome the development of all branches of culture, others, on the contrary, are ascetic (Calvinists, Jehovah's Witnesses, Mormons) and prohibit acting, entertainment and other activities that distract believers from prayer and thoughts about God.

On the one hand, the well-known liberalism of Protestantism removes restrictions on the use of artistic forms and subjects; there are almost no forbidden or taboo topics. On the other hand, Protestant culture, having emerged as iconoclastic, accusing Catholic culture of being excessively expensive, elitist and complicated, is characterized as utilitarian, unified, designed for mass consumption.

Literature, poetry, architecture, and musical culture of the Protestant ethnocultural region developed in a characteristic way. The breakthroughs of innovative revelations of the best representatives were followed by countless imitations trying to achieve commercial success using “promoted” artistic forms and images.

The Protestant ethic is characterized by the cult of personal freedom, the promotion of labor, the consolidation of the rights to free enterprise and the inviolability of private property. Exaggerating a bit, we can say that pragmatic Protestants often treat religion (and everything spiritual in general) as a business project that is designed to make a profit. The behavior of the leaders of Protestant communities is akin to the behavior of managers. They prove by their example that faith can be sold as a commodity, providing “religious services.” The structure of Protestant churches is often fused with politics and business.

Law-abiding among Protestants

Another quality cultivated by Protestants is law-abiding. In their society, a person has complete freedom, but within the framework of the current law. “It is the duty of the people to pray for the government, to honor its representatives, to pay taxes and imposts, to obey its lawful decrees, and to obey it in conscience.” (Westminster Confession of Faith. England, 1643–1649)

Protestantism created a special work ethic - a religiously based doctrine about the virtue of labor, the need to work conscientiously and diligently. Sociologists explain the economic success of Protestant states by the fact that the work ethic extends there not only to the bulk of the population, but also to ruling groups and entrepreneurs.


Most of the numbers come from the CIA Fact Book or PEW Research Center surveys.

According to the CIA Factbook and Pew Research Center, the five countries with the largest numbers of Catholics, in order of decreasing Catholic population, are Brazil, Mexico, the Philippines, the United States, and Italy.

The country where church membership makes up the largest percentage of the population is Vatican City (100%), followed by East Timor (97%).

the Annuario Pontificio census

2020 (Pontifical Yearbook), the number of baptized Catholics in the world at the end of 2021 was about 1.329 billion. The Catholics & Cultures research initiative collects data on Catholic demographics, including from the Annuario Pontificio, across the country.

Conflicting figures can be found in a 2013 study conducted by the Brazilian survey institute Datafolha. This report states that the percentage of Catholics in Brazil over the age of 16 is only 57%, as opposed to 64.63% published by the CIA and 68.6% by the Pew Research Center. Additionally, the 2010 Mexican census showed the percentage to be 83.9%—versus 91.89% in the CIA World Factbook.

New statistics of the Catholic Church published

VATICAN. New statistics on the composition of the Catholic Church were published by the Fidesz agency, the organ of the Vatican Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples. As is customary, Fidesz timed this publication to coincide with World Mission Day, which was celebrated this year on October 21. The data is taken from the yearbook "Statistical Book of the Church", the latest edition of which reflects information as of December 31, 2016. An increase or decrease in a particular parameter is marked with numbers (sometimes in parentheses) with “+” or “-” signs.

World population

As of December 31, 2016, the world population was 7,352,289,000, which is 103,348,000 more than a year earlier. Population growth was observed on all continents: in Asia it increased by 49,767,000, in Africa - by 42,898,000, in America - by 8,519,000, in Europe - by 1,307,000 and in Oceania - by 857,000 people.


The total number of members of the Catholic Church at the end of 2016 was 1,299,059,000 people, which is 14,249,000 more than the previous year. The growth of the Catholic population was observed on all continents except Europe, where there were 240,000 fewer of them. The most noticeable increases in the number of Catholics were recorded in Africa (+6,265,000) and the Americas (+6,023,000), followed by Asia (+1,956,000) and Oceania (+254,000). In general, the share of Catholics in the world's population decreased by 0.05% and amounted to 17.67%. At the same time, in America, Asia and Oceania this indicator increased (+ 0.06, + 0.01 and + 0.02, respectively), while in Africa and Europe it decreased (- 0.18 and - 0.11).

Number of Catholics per priest

In 2021, the number of Catholics per priest increased by 39 points to an average of 3,130. By continent, these data are as follows: Africa +7, America +74, Europe +22, Oceania +52, Asia -13.

Church areas and missions

In 2021, 10 new church areas were established: 3 in Africa, 3 in America, 3 in Asia, 1 in Europe. In Oceania their number has not changed. In total, as of December 31, 2016, there were 3,016 church regions operating in the world.

There were 2,140 missions with a resident priest (581 more than the previous year). Their numbers fell only in Africa (-63), but increased in the Americas (+98), Asia (+151), Europe (+364) and Oceania (+31).

There were 513 fewer missions without a permanent priest – their total number was 142,487. At the same time, in Africa, Europe and Oceania their number increased (+ 135, + 456 and + 91), while in America and Asia it decreased (- 35 and - 1,160).


The number of Catholic bishops in the world increased by 49 people and reached 5,353. There are 4,063 (+27) diocesan bishops, and 1,263 (+22) bishops who are members of monastic orders.

There are more diocesan bishops in America, Asia and Europe (+20, +9, +3) and fewer in Africa and Oceania (-2 and -3).8) The number of bishop-monks has grown on all continents except Asia (- 7): in Africa (+ 5), America (+ 14), Europe (+ and Oceania (+ 2).


The number of Catholic priests decreased by 687 in 2021 and amounted to 414,969. As in previous years, the most significant reduction in clearing was noted in Europe (-2.583). There are also fewer priests in America (-589). On the contrary, in Africa and Asia this figure increased (+ 1.181 and + 1.304). In Oceania, the numbers remained unchanged. There were 317 more diocesan priests, amounting to 281,831. Their number decreased only in Europe (-1,611), but increased in Africa (+ 983), America (+ 180), Asia (+ 744) and Oceania (+ 21). The number of priest-monks decreased by 1,004 and reached 133,138. Once again, Europe leads the way in reducing this indicator (-972), followed by America (-769) and Oceania (-21). In Africa and Asia, the number of monastic pastors increased (+ 198 and + 560).

Permanent deacons

The number of permanent deacons in the world increased by 1,057 and amounted to 46,312. The largest increase was in the Americas (+842), followed by Europe (+145), Oceania (+45), Africa (+22) and Asia (+3).

Among the permanent deacons, 45,609 belong to the diocesan clergy, and 703 are members of monastic orders.


The number of monks without holy orders decreased by 1,604 and amounted to 52,625. By continent the situation is as follows: Africa (-50), America (-503), Asia (-373), Europe (-614), Oceania (-64). Also in 2021, the number of nuns decreased by 10,885 - this figure was 659,445. At the same time, there were more nuns in Africa and Asia (+ 943 and + 533), and fewer on other continents: America (-3.775), Europe (-8.370), Oceania (-216).

Members of lay societies

The number of male members of consecrated life societies decreased by 79 to 618. In Africa and Asia this figure increased slightly (+2 and + 4), while in America and Europe it decreased (-77 and -8). In Oceania, the numbers have not changed from the previous year.

The number of women members of such societies also decreased: there were 459 fewer of them, amounting to 22,400 members. Growth was observed only in Africa (+ 113), and reduction was observed in America (-33), Asia (-35), Europe (- 502) and Oceania (-2).

Lay missionaries and catechists

The number of lay missionaries worldwide was 354,743, up 2,946 from the previous year. An increase in this indicator was noted in America (+ 4.728) and Africa (+759), and a decrease in Asia (- 1.569), Europe (-921) and Oceania (- 55). The number of catechists decreased by 36,364 and amounted to 3,086,289. Growth was observed only in Africa (+ 10.669), and a decrease in America (- 20.407), Asia (- 12.896), Europe (- 13.417) and Oceania (- 313).

Higher seminaries

The number of students at higher seminaries - diocesan and order - in 2021 decreased by 683 and amounted to 116,160 people. At the same time, in Africa and Asia there was an increase in this indicator (+1.455 and +9), and in America, Europe and Oceania there was a decrease (-1.123, -964, -60). There were 71,117 people studying in diocesan higher seminaries (999 more than at the end of 2015), and 45,043 (-1,682) in order seminaries. The number of diocesan seminarians increased in Africa (+1,059), America (+16) and Asia (+310) and decreased in Europe (-381) and Oceania (-5). The number of order seminarians increased only in Africa (+396), but decreased in America (-1,139), Asia (-301), Europe (-583) and Oceania (-55).

Primary seminaries

The total number of students in primary seminaries decreased by 2,735 to 101,616. The reduction was noted on all continents: Africa (-69), America (-1.299), Asia (-871), Europe (-581), Oceania (-5).

At the same time, students of diocesan seminaries amounted to 78,369 (-1,729). In Africa and Oceania this figure increased (+236 and +7), while in America, Asia and Europe it decreased (-684, - 988, - 300). There were 23,247 young people studying in the order’s primary seminaries (-1,006). Their number increased only in Asia (+207), but decreased in Africa (-305), America (-615), Europe (-281) and Oceania (-12).

Catholic schools and other educational institutions

The Catholic Church maintains 72,826 kindergartens, which are attended by 7,313,370 children; 96,573 primary schools with 35,125,124 students; 47,862 secondary schools with 19,956,347 students. The Church also cares for 2,509,457 high school students and 3,049,548 university students.

Charity and medical centers

The charitable and medical centers maintained by the Catholic Church throughout the world include: 5,287 hospitals, most of which are in America (1,530) and Africa (1,321); 15,937 dispensaries – most of them in Africa (5,177), America (4,430) and Asia (3,300); 610 leper colonies - mainly in Asia (352) and Africa (192); 15,722 homes for the elderly, people suffering from chronic diseases and people with disabilities - mainly in Europe (8,127) and America (3,763); 9,552 orphanages – mostly in Asiaa (3,660); 11,758 nurseries – mainly in Asia (3,295) and America (3,191); 13,897 marriage counseling centers - mainly in Europe (5,664) and America (4,984); 3,506 social rehabilitation centers and 35,746 other institutions.

As the organ of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, Fidesz concludes its annual statistical review with data on the ecclesiastical areas under this division of the Roman Curia.

As of December 31, 2016, there were 1,114 such regions, that is, 3 more than just before. The largest number of these areas are in Africa (511) and Asia (482), followed by the Americas (75) and Oceania (46).

Around the country

By clicking on the icons in the column headers, you can change the order of the table by column.
Catholic Church by country

A countryTotal population% CatholicCatholic General
Afghanistan (details)29 928 9870,0003%200
Albania (details)3 020 00010%302 000
Algeria (details)32 531 8530,14%45 000
Andorra (more details)70 00088,2%61 740
Angola (details)31 100 00041,1% -50% -55% -56,4% -60%12 500 000–20 000 000
Antigua and Barbuda (details)84 5228,2%6 930
Argentina (details)42 000 00062,9% -63,3% -66% -71%26 000 000–29 820 000
Armenia (details)2 982 9041%29 829
Australia (details)23 400 00022,6%5 292 000
Austria (details)8 940 00054,9%4 907 354
Azerbaijan (details)8 581 4000,03%2,574
Bahamas (details)330 00012%39 600
Bahrain (more details)800 0008,9%71 200
Bangladesh (more details)158 000 0000,07%110 000
Barbados (more details)250 0124,2%10 000
Belarus (details)9 500 0007,1%674 500
Belgium (details)11 200 00057,1% -58%6 500 000
Belize (details)334 00040%133 600
Benin (details)7 460 02526,6%1 984 366
Butane (details)2,232,2910,06%1,339
Bolivia (details)10 500 00070% -73% -77%7 980 000
Bosnia and Herzegovina (details)3,531,15915,19%536 333
Botswana (details)1,640,1154,9%80 365
Brazil (details)210 600 00054% -58,1% -61% -64,6% -65,0%123 000 000 — 134 000 000 — 140 000 000
Brunei (more details)372 3615%18 618
Bulgaria (details)7 450 3490,5%37 251
Burkina Faso (more details)13 925 31317%2 367 303
Burundi (details)12 000 00062,1%7 440 000
Cape Verde (more details)512 09677,3%395 850
Cambodia (more details)13 607 069Cameroon (details)25 640 96538,4%9 846 000
Canada (details)35 770 00038,7%13 843 000
Central African Republic (details)3,799,89729%949 974
Chad (details)12 000 00020% -22,8%2 520 000
Chile (more details)18 000 00045% -55% -64% -66,6%8 100 000–12 000 000
China (details)1,400,000,0000,43% -0,7%6 000 000–12 000 000
Colombia (details)48 000 00070,9% -73% -75% -79%34 000 000–37 900 000
Comoros (more details)800 0000,2%1,600
Republic of the Congo (more details)5 062 02133,1% -52,9%1,675,529–2,409,661
Congo, Democratic Republic (details)100 000 00036,8% -45% -47,3% -55,8%36 800 000–55 800 000
Costa Rica (details)5 000 00052% -57% -62% -71,8%2 600 000 — 3 100 000 — 3 500 000
Croatia (details)4 284 88986,3%3 698 000
Cuba (details)11 163 93451,7% -60%6 000 000
Cyprus (details)1 100 0002,9%11 000
Czech Republic (details)10 500 00010,2% -21% -27,1%1 071 000 — 2 856 000
Ivory Coast (details)23 800 00021,4%5 093 000
Denmark (details)5 630 0000,7%46 000
Djibouti (details)476 7030,2%953
Dominica (more details)71 54058,1%41 564
Dominican Republic (details)10 400 00048% -57%4 992 000–5 928 000
East Timor (details)1 054 00097,57% -98,3%1 021 000
Ecuador (details)15 223 68077,0% -79% -80,4%11 265 523
Equatorial Guinea (more details)1,620,00080,7%1 410 000
Egypt (details)77 505 7560,1%187 320
El Salvador (details)7 000 00039% -47% -50%2 730 000–3 500 000
Eritrea (more details)4,561,5993,3%150 532
Estonia (details)1,332,8930,3%3,998
Ethiopia (details)73 053 2860,7%584 426
Federated States of Micronesia (details)104 46852,6% -55%60 000
Fiji (more details)893 3549,1%80 401
Finland (details)5 451 2700,2%12 434
France (details)66 600 00047% -48% -51% -57% -60% –66%31 300 000–44 000 000
Gabon (details)1,389,20150%694 600
Gambia (more details)1,593,2562,1%33 458
Georgia (details)4 677 4010,8%84 193
Germany (details)83 100 00027,2%22 600 000
Ghana (details)21 029 85312,9%2 712 851
Greece (more details)11 170 9570,4%44 683
Grenada (details)89 50244,6%39 917
Guatemala (more details)15,773,00043% -45% -50%7 000 000
Guinea (details)9 467 8662,6%246 164
Guinea-Bissau (more details)1,416,0278,9%126 026
Guyana (more details)765 2838,1%91 833
Haiti (details)10 000 00054,7% -56,7% -56,8%5 470 000
Honduras (more details)8 800 00037% -46%3 256 000–4 048 000
Hungary (details)9 877 00037,2% –53,0% -56% -62%.3 674 244
Iceland (details)355 2773,9%13 799
India (details)1 280 000 0000,9% –1,5%11 520 000–19 900 000
Indonesia (more details)255 000 0002,9%7 395 000
Iran (details)68 017 8600,02%13 603
Iraq (details)38 000 0000,35%133 000
Ireland (details)4 762 00078,3%3 729 000
Israel (details)7 746 0001,2%92 952
Italy (details)60 800 00074% -75% -76,5% -78,9% -81,7%42 000 000–50 000 000
Jamaica (more details)2 889 0002%57 780
Japan (details)127 417 2440,3% — 0,5%382 251
Jordan (details)5,759,7320,4%23 038
Kazakhstan (details)15 185 8440,6%91 115
Kenya (details)47 560 00020,6% -22,1%9 816 000
Kiribati (more details)98 00055,8% -57,3%54 684
Korea, North (more details)22 912 1770,01%2,291
Korea, South (more details)53 121 66811,1%5 914 669
Kosovo (details)1 920 0793,4%65 000
Kuwait (more details)2,335,6486,1%142 474
Kyrgyzstan (details)5 146 2810,1%5 146
Laos (more details)6 217 1410,6%37 302
Latvia (details)2 290 23719,1%437 435
Lebanon (details)4 800 00028,8%1 382 400
Lesotho (details)2 067 00045,7% -49,4%946 000–1 052 237
Liberia (details)3 482 2115,4%188 039
Libya (details)5 765 5630,7%40 358
Liechtenstein (more details)33 86375,9% -81,7%25 803
Lithuania (details)2 944 45977,2% -83%2 311 722
Luxembourg (more details)538 00063,8% -65,9%369 600
Madagascar (details)18 040 34129,5% -38,1%5 318 293–7 890 000
Malawi (more details)12 158 92428,4%3 449 487
Malaysia (more details)23 953 1363,3%1 290 453
Maldives (more details)349 1060,02%80
Mali (more details)12 291 5291,5%189 289
Malta (details)428 00084,4% -93%361 372
Marshall Islands (more details)62 0008,4%5 208
Mauritania (details)3 086 8590,1%3086
Mauritius (details)1,230,60223,6%289 314
Mexico (details)126 500 00080% -81% -82,7% -84,9%100 000 000
Moldova (details)4 455 4210,5%20 494
Monaco (details)36 37182,3%29 933
Mongolia (details)2 791 2720,04%1,116
Montenegro (more details)625 2663,4%21 299
Morocco (more details)32 725 8470,07%22 908
Mozambique (more details)19 406 70327,2% -28,4% -30,5%4 618 795
Myanmar (more details)42 909 4641,1%450 549
Namibia (details)2 030 69222,8%344 202
Nauru (details)10 08432,96%3 324
Nepal (details)27 676 5470,03%8 302
Netherlands (details)16 970 00023,3%3 943 000
New Zealand (more details)4 700 00010,0%470 000
Nicaragua (details)6 000 00040% -50% -55%2 400 000–3 000 000
Niger (more details)11 665 9370,1%11 665
Nigeria (more details)190 000 00012,6%23 940 000
North Macedonia (details)2 038 5141%20 452
Norway (details)5 060 0002,4% -3,02%120 900
Oman (details)3 000 0004,1%110 000
Pakistan (details)207 000 0000,8%1,656,000
Palau (more details)19 94941,6%8 299
Palestine (details)3 761 9042%80 000
Panama (details)3 500 00055% -63% -70%1 925 000–2 400 000
Papua New Guinea (more details)7 000 00026%1 890 000
Paraguay (details)6 800 00088,3% -89%6 000 000
Peru (details)32 800 00074% -76%24 600 000
Philippines (more details)105 000 00080,6% -81,4% -82,9% -86%85 470 000
Poland (details)38 496 00085,8% -87,5% -92,9%33 000 000
Portugal (details)10 500 00081,0% –85% -88,0%8 600 000–9 240 000
Qatar (details)863 0515,8%50 000
Romania (more details)22 329 9774,7%1,787,408
Russia (details)143 420 3090,5%717 101
Rwanda (details)11 000 00043,7% -49,5%4 807 000
Saint Kitts and Nevis (details)51 0006,7%3 400
Saint Lucia (details)165 60061,3%101 500
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines (details)106 0007,5%7 950
Samoa (details)179 00019,6%35 084
San Marino (more details)32 50090,5% -97%>29 412
Sao Tome and Principe (details)163 00073,5%119 805
Saudi Arabia (details)26 417 5992,5% -3,8% -7%660 439–1300 000
Senegal (details)11 126 8323,5%389 439
Serbia (more details)7 120 6006,1%433 167
Seychelles (more details)93 00076,2%70 866
Sierra Leone (details)6 017 6432,9%174 511
Singapore (more details)4 425 7204,8% -6,7% -7,1%165 964
Slovakia (more details)5 397 03662%3 347 277
Slovenia (details)2 095 86172,1%1 509 986
Solomon Islands (details)523 00019%100 000
Somalia (details)8 591 6290,001%100
South Africa (details)44 344 1367,1%2 851 327
South Sudan (details)10 000 00039,7%3 950 000
Spain (details)46 700 00066,0% -67% -68% -68,9% -70%32 364 000
Sri Lanka (more details)20 264 0006,1%1 237 000
Sudan (details)31 000 0001%300 000
Suriname (details)551 00021,6%119 000
Swaziland (details)1 100 0004,9%62 803
Sweden (details)10 000 0001,8%180 000
Switzerland (details)8 500 00035,2% -35,9% -36,5%3 000 000
Syria (details)18 448 7522,1%368 975
Taiwan (details)22 894 3841,3%297 626
Tajikistan (details)7 163 5060,01%Tanzania (details)57 000 00031,4%18 000 000
Thailand (details)69 000 0000,3% -0,58%388 468
Togo (details)5 681 51926,4%1,499,921
Tonga (more details)102 00015,6%15 912
Trinidad and Tobago (details)1,330,00021,6%286 000
Tunisia (more details)11 000 0000,2%22 000
Türkiye (more details)77 700 0000,05%35 000
Turkmenistan (details)4 750 0000,01%500
Tuvalu (details)10 0001%100
Uganda (details)42 000 00039,3%16 500 000
Ukraine (details)43 000 0005,6% -10%2 408 000–4 300 000
United Arab Emirates (details)2,563,2125%128 160
UK (details)63 100 0009%5 700 000
USA (more details)330 000 00020% -22% -23% -25%66 000 000–72 600 000–81 000 000
Uruguay (details)3 500 00038% -41% -42% -47,1%1,330,000
Uzbekistan (more details)26 851 1950,01%2 685
Vatican (details)842100%842
Vanuatu (more details)243 30413,1%36 500
Venezuela (details)32 000 00067% -71% -73%210 000
Vietnam (details)90 000 0006,9% -7,4%6 200 000
Western Sahara (details)273 0080,06%163
Yemen (details)20 727 0630,02%4 145
Zambia (details)14 300 00021%3 003 000
Zimbabwe (details)12 746 9907,71%982 792
General7 093 798 00017,68%1 253 926 000

By dependent territory

Catholic Church by area

TerritoryTotal population% CatholicCatholic General
US Virgin Islands (details)109 84034%37 345
Anguilla (details)14 1085,7%804
Aruba (more details)101 48475,3%76 464
British Virgin Islands (details)24 0419,5%2283
Cayman Islands (more details)47 86214,1%6 748
Curaçao (details)142 18072,8%103 507
Falkland Islands (details)3 00010%300
French Guiana (more details)221 50075%166 500
Greenland (details)55 9840,2%111
Guadeloupe (details)405 50085,2%345 486
Guam (details)154 62385%131 430
Northern Mariana Islands (more details)51 65970% Citation error: The opening tag is incorrectly formatted or in bad standing (see help page).
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Catholic Church by country
15 498
Hong Kong (details)7 409 8005,3%394 000
Martinique (details)390 00080%312 000
Macau (details)650 0004,6%30 000
New Caledonia (details)249 00060,2%150 000
Puerto Rico (details)3 600 00056% -69,7%2 016 000
Reunion (more details)839 50079,7%669 249
Saint Pierre and Miquelon (details)6 02593%5600
Turks and Caicos Islands (more details)22 35211,4%2,548
Wallis and Futuna (details)14 23195,8%13 631
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