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The Roman Catholic Church is a massive organization, with members in nearly every country numbering over 1 Billion individuals. With such massive numbers and such extensive influence in the world, it is difficult to guess and estimate where tomorrow's Roman Catholics will come from.

I can think of four distinct possibilities:

  1. Most of today's converts are from the missionary work done in lands that have little Christian influence, such as many parts of Asia, those being mostly Hindu, Islam, and Buddhist.

  2. Most of today's converts are from the missionary work done in lands that have much Christian influence, such as Europe or the Americas, which focus on persons not claiming to already be Christian.

  3. Most of today's converts are from other Christian denominations.

  4. Most of today's "converts" are the newborn children raised in the Faith who do not leave it when they become adults.

So I wonder if there are studies that show the numbers for the Roman Catholic Church. Are there studies that can show me how many people convert, and where they are from, and what they believed/followed previously? I would like to see a breakdown of conversion numbers by continent, or country if possible, and which category they fit into. A superb answer would include numbers for those who leave the Faith.

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Drive by downvote. Please comment if you downvote and tell me what is wrong with the question. –  fredsbend the Grinch Sep 4 '13 at 6:53
    
I like how you have converts in quotations with your 4th point - it does make me wonder though, are they really converts if they are born into a family that is Roman Catholic and are raised as such, never leaving the Roman Catholic Church? –  IndigoGirl Sep 4 '13 at 12:49
    
@IndigoGirl I chose to put it in quotes because they never actually convert. They are born, then they are raised in the Faith and keep the Faith through adulthood. But, yes, that is a big sociological discussion: are your beliefs learned from your parents or not? –  fredsbend the Grinch Sep 4 '13 at 18:26
    
That's what I was commenting on, the fact that they really are not converts. It's like a label that doesn't quite fit. To be honest, not completely. I learned from outside influences such as my grandparents, family friends, my own friends and my own curiosity. –  IndigoGirl Sep 5 '13 at 18:45

2 Answers 2

Your question contains within it the false assumption that the organizational structure known as the Catholic Church is interested in proselytizing. Since Vatican II it no longer promotes the Conversion of Peoples, instead it celebrates diversity of traditions. In past times, The Syllabus of Pius IX proclaimed the singular exclusive truth of the Catholic religion; however, in modern times Benedict XVI has clarified the new position. In reference to the Vatican II document, Gaudium et Spes , he declares it a

"revision of the Syllabus of Pius IX, a kind of counter syllabus"

Benedict XVI, Principles of Catholic Theology, 1982, p. 381:

Lets review the Rejection of The Great Commission

Addressing possibility #3: The conversions are unlikely to come from the Protestants, since Benedict XVI considers Protestantism a valid Christian path:

The conclusion is inescapable, then: Protestantism today is something different from heresy in the traditional sense, a phenomenon whose true theological place has not yet been determined.” “Cardinal” Joseph Ratzinger, The Meaning of Christian Brotherhood, pp. 87-88:

The conversions are unlikely to come from the Jews since proselytization of Jews is rejected. Cardinal Kurt Koch, President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity (a position he's held since 2010), said;

"We Christians must not bear witness in relation to the Jews to a path of salvation which is completely foreign to them, as we do with other religions,"

The Roman Catholic reflections describe the growing respect for the Jewish tradition that has unfolded since the Second Vatican Council. A deepening Catholic appreciation of the eternal covenant between God and the Jewish people, together with a recognition of a divinely-given mission to Jews to witness to God's faithful love, lead to the conclusion that campaigns that target Jews for conversion to Christianity are no longer theologically acceptable in the Catholic Church

Addressing possibility #1 Conversions are unlikely to come from the Muslims because Francis recently promoted "The Spiritual Fruits" of the the fast of Ramadan and wished them a wonderful Id al-Fitr

The pope also offered good wishes to Muslims at the beginning of Ramadan during a visit to the island of Lampedusa in Italy on July 8, saying in a speech, “I also think with affection of those Muslim immigrants who this evening begin the fast of Ramadan, which I trust will bear abundant spiritual fruit. The church is at your side as you seek a more dignified life for yourselves and your families.”

John Paul II has praised Hinduism and Buddhism in a similar way, which can be reviewed in Crossing the Threshold of Hope and other documents.

Benedict XVI referred to "Secularism" as fruit of the faith. So they are not even interested in converting Atheists.

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This doesn't really answer the question... also, I feel like there's more the quotation of Cardinal Koch; also from Koch (October 2012): "The in–principle rejection of an institutional mission to the Jews does not on the other hand exclude that Christians bear witness to their faith in Jesus Christ also to Jews, but they should do so in an unassuming and humble manner, particularly in view of the great tragedy of the Shoah." –  Ryan Frame Sep 6 '13 at 14:40
    
@RyanFrame I added a doc from the USCCB to my answer –  apocalypse_info_click_here Sep 6 '13 at 19:14

From 2000-2008:

Over these nine years, the Catholic presence in the world has grown from 1.045 billion in 2000 to 1.166 billion in 2008, an increase of 11.54%. Considering the statistics in detail, numbers in Africa grew by 33%, in Europe they remained generally stable (an increase of 1.17%), while in Asia they increased by 15.61%, in Oceania by 11.39% and in America by 10.93%. As a percentage of the total population, European Catholics represented 26.8% in 2000 and 24.31% in 2008. In America and Oceania they have remained stable, and increased slightly in Asia.

Source: zenit.org (from the Statistical Yearbook of the Church)

Unfortunately this doesn't help identify the converts' previous religious beliefs, but possibly the Yearbook might have those sort of details.

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Thanks for finding at least something. –  fredsbend the Grinch Oct 13 '13 at 22:01

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