Cl Cardinal Hummes, O.F.M. Cl Cardinal Hummes, O.F.M.
Prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy
Cardinal Priest of Sant'Antonio da Padova in Via Merulana
Aug 08, 1934
Feb 21, 2001
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English Catholicism in retreat in Brazil, cardinal warns
Oct 15, 2005
Brazil, the world’s largest Roman Catholic country, is seeing a relentless decline in its Catholic population, according to a top Brazilian cardinal.

VATICAN CITY (Reuters, October 12,2005) – “We are asking ourselves with anguish, ‘for how much longer will Brazil remain a Catholic country?’” Cardinal Claudio Hummes told a gathering of more than 250 Catholic bishops.

Hummes said around 67 percent of Brazilians called themselves Catholic today against 83 percent in 1991, with numbers dropping by about one percentage point a year.

He said the biggest fall off in faithful had been registered in poor city neighborhoods and added that Catholicism appeared to be in retreat across South America.

“How much longer will Latin America remain a Catholic country?” he said. “The Church must pay more attention to tackling this grave situation.”

Hummes told bishops that Catholics had to fight the decline with missionary zeal and indicated that Protestants were being more aggressive in looking for converts.

“For every Catholic priest we have in Brazil, there are two Protestant pastors, the majority from the Pentecostal Churches,” said Hummes, archbishop of Sao Paolo, Brazil’s largest diocese.

Recent surveys have suggested that many Brazilians have abandoned the Catholic Church in favor of less rigid religions. The Vatican’s anti-contraception stance amid widespread poverty was one of the reasons behind the exodus, the surveys have said.

Hummes, who is viewed as a doctrinal conservative, did not say why he thought Catholicism was losing its appeal.

Bishops have been using the synod, which is the first to be held under Pope Benedict and runs until Oct. 23, to raise their concerns about issues facing the Church.
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