Rorate Caeli

The Church of Vatican II
I - Brazil. Catholicism becoming a minority religion

The graph below is based upon Graphs 36 and 37 in the report, published just a few days ago, for the 2010 Censo Demográfico of Brazil that was carried out by the Instituto Brasileiro de Geografia e Estatística. (Read the PDF of the report here. There is a section dedicated to religious affiliation - Religião.

According to the same report, Catholics comprised 99.7% of the population in 1872. This went down to 91.8% by 1970. This gradual decline over a century, however, has been dwarfed by the continuing decline in the Catholic Church's share of the Brazilian population since then: 89% in 1980, 83% in 1991, 73.6% in 2000 and 64.6% in 2010. The largest gains have been registered by the Evangelicals, who grew from 6.6% in 1980, to 9% in 1991, to 15.4% in 2000, and to 22.2% in 2010 -- a growth rate that increased with every passing decade. 

The state with the smallest percentage of Catholics was Rio de Janeiro, where only 48.5% of the population was Catholic as of 2010.

The census of 2010 officially confirmed what polls had foreshadowed as early as 2007: that Catholics would fall to about 64% of the population of Brazil. Furthermore, according to Table 1.4.1 of the 2010 census report, the actual number of Roman Catholics in Brazil stood at 123,280,172. This is less than the 125,518,774 Roman Catholics reported in the 2000 census. The fall is not just in terms of percentage but also in absolute numbers. 

If current trends continue, Brazil will cease to be a majority-Catholic country sometime between 2020 and 2025. 

These latest statistics explode a myth that has become common in Catholic journalism in the last few years: the myth that Brazilian Catholicism has been saved, following the Liberation Theology debacle, from further Evangelical and Pentecostal inroads by the related phenomena of celebrity priests and "Charismatic Catholicism". Far from stopping these inroads, it looks far more likely that Brazilian Catholicism's embrace of Pentecostal-inspired forms of prayer and worship has only facilitated the loss of even more Catholics to Protestantism.

For more details: 2010 Census: number of Catholics falls and number of Protestants, Spiritists and persons without religion records increase


  1. Barney Rubble's living will10:27 PM

    Vatican II was a destructive disaster.

  2. When the Curch opted for the poor, the poor opted for the Pentecostals.

  3. P.K.T.P.10:42 PM

    Add to this the fact that the Campos faithful are the only real Catholics in the Catholic numbers. Most of the nominal Catholics are syncretists, Marxists, Arians, and the like. Most have no idea what transubstantiation is or what the Eucharist is. Are they Catholic? No. They have been uncatechised. by our so-called priests.


  4. It was not said that it was "caused" by Vatican II, but that this is a portrait of the Church of Vatican II.

    What is the Church of Vatican II? "The Church of Vatican II is known as the communion of those who have received the status of sons of the Father in Christ through the Holy Spirit: she is truly de unitate Patris et Filii et Spiritus Sancti plebs adunata." (Cardinal Herranz, cf )

    "In addition, the Church of Vatican II has taken a lively account of the new conditions in which she must exercise her mission, and it is in the cultures of modernity that the Church of tomorrow will be constructed." (cf.

  5. NIANTIC11:04 PM

    I agree P.K.T.P. My immediate thought was how many of those who call themselves Catholic really know their faith, can explain and defend it and make it the most important part of their lives.
    Here too I blame the "spirit" of Vll and the bishops and priests who have totally abandoned the flock. It is a disgrace and we have to respect and follow them? Lord have mercy.

  6. Thorin11:41 PM

    The Church's problems in Latin America long predate Vatican II. Latin America has long suffered from a chronic shortage of priests, and traditionally there have been very few native priests in a variety of places. As a result of this problem, many Latin Americans have been very poorly catechized and have had little contact with priests, often seeing them only when their children are baptized.

    Fortunately, there is an increase in native vocations in many places in Latin America, with Brazil seeing an increase in priests from16,722 to 22,118 between 2000 and 2010. Let us hope and pray that this increase in vocations will help to stem the tide.

  7. rodrigo11:49 PM

    Between this and the atrocious interview with Abp Di Noia, I think RORATE CAELI is just trying to ensure that we all start the month with a keen sense of the importance of penance and prayer.

  8. In practice, the (overwhelmingly) Catholic population of Brazil has been abandoned by its Bishops for the last half-century, and 99% of the clergy is theologically illiterate.

    Liberation Theology devastated the Catholic panorama, driving people out of the Church. During the military gov't (1964-1989), American Protestant preachers were imported to help fighting it, and "evangelicals" begin to appear everywhere. Likewise, "espiritismo" (a reincarnationist pseudo-scientific doctrine concocted in the end of the XIXth Century by a Frenchman known as Allan Kardec, most popular in Brazil than in France), already pretty popular among the Army officers, was given a boom during that time.

    Nowadays, with a few good exceptions, Brazilian dioceses are still either in the hands of unrepenting Liberation Theologians or in the hands of feel-good immanentist Bishops and priests.

    There have been a few good new Bishops, but they have to deal with the (usually lousy) clergy they inherited.
    Mosts priests are people from poor families who went to the seminary because they could get some social status, a job, and a college degree there. A fairly high percentual, unfortunately were people who were happy to have an excuse not to get married, as women were not exactly their preference. Plenty of the sincere ones lost their faiths in Liberation-Theology-oriented seminaries, but kept going on because it is the job they have. So they will preach about "kidness", "a good heart", etc., according to the last self-help book they read, and when they decide to get theological they will quote Leonardo Boff, because that is what they were taught to do.
    They are not political liberals; they just don't care about politics, don't know any theology, and perceive their ministry as being about making people feel better.

  9. But things are slowly improving: in Niterói, for instance (across the bay from Rio), no seminarian is ordained without learning how to celebrate the Traditional Mass. Other Bishops are also trying to bring things back on track, but it will take a long time.

    The Brazilian National Conference of Bishops is still (just barely, now) in the hands of old Liberation Theologians, even though things have been slowly changing; the LT "Old Guard" has been trying to give retired Bishops voting rights in the Conference, in order to slow down the Restoration. But they still have a lot of power in the Brazilian Church.
    Just as an example: every Lent, the Brazilian National Conference of Bishops has a "Campanha da Fraternidade" ("Campaign of Fraternity") about some left-wing theme, with special (awful) music, usually in pseudo-native rythms, leaving no space for Lenten reflections. All Lenten Masses have to be "about it", with songs that preach abut the year's theme, special prayers, etc. This year it was about public health, for instance.
    Things have been improving, but it will take a long time to undo the evils done by Liberation Theology.

    On the other hand, Brazilian "evangelicals" are more Catholic than many Catholic in Protestant countries, because they are culturally Catholic and their "pastors" do not undergo any kind of theological training. So they have a basically Catholic view of Salvation, sin, etc.; in fact, if there was a miracle and we instantly had a good clergy descending from Heaven, they would be quickly adapted back into the Church; they would feel more at home in a Traditional church than in an American "Evangelical" sect. They are basically conservative people who did not want to listen to Communistic Liberation Theology drivel and did not know enough about the Catholic Faith because it has never been shown them.

    About Campos, well, it is in the State of Rio de Janeiro. The fight between the Padres de Campos (now Apostolic Administration) and the Diocese left the road open for "evangelicals", and the most important "evangelical" politician in Brazil (the arch-corrupt Garotinho - "little boy", it's his political nickname) is from Campos.

  10. Is this something the traditional Mass can really fix? The graph shows Evangelicals making headway as early as the 1940s. Besides, I'd venture to guess the people leaving the Church for the Evangelicals aren't interested in ritual to begin with.

  11. "Is this something the traditional Mass can really fix?"

    Now? You wish to call for its reinforcements now? Nothing of the sort was implied by anything written here. It can reasonably be said that Vatican II was a solution looking for a problem - that did not exist... In this specific case, as in so many others, we will never know what might have been; but undoubtedly the religious upheaval that followed the Council occurred in one of the worst possible junctures in history, as social and economic changes were about to demand religious stability, and not religious instability. As it turned out, religious instability was offerred in a time of social instability, and what is left is the collapse of Catholicism.

  12. The spiritual annihilation of a nation.

    Our Lady of Fatima, pray for us.

  13. Prof. Basto3:29 AM

    These latest statistics explode a myth that has become common in Catholic journalism in the last few years: the myth that Brazilian Catholicism has been saved from further Evangelical and Pentecostal inroads by the related phenomena of celebrity priests and "Charismatic Catholicism". Far from stopping these inroads, it looks far more likely that Brazilian Catholicism's embrace of Pentecostal-inspired forms of prayer and worship has only facilitated the loss of even more Catholics to Protestantism.

    Rorate Caeli hits the nail on the head.

    The more Protestant our Church looks, with Pentecostal-like liturgies and ministers, the more people will flee to authentic Pentecostal sects.

    The more vacuous the preaching of true Catholic doctrine becomes - with the omission of essential elements of the Catholic Faith (Sacrificial nature of the Mass; transubstantiation; Purgatory the true purpose of Funeral Masses; the Sacrament of Marriage; the necessity of the Sacrament of Penance, etc, etc, etc), the more people will flee the Church.

    The watered down religion of Vatican II is a religion for women in their 60's. It does not correspond to the authenticity of the Catholic Faith.

    Also, I firmly believe that the liturgical revolution has led to a belief that everything can change. If the liturgy changes, if the doctrine either changes or seems to change, if the preaching from the pulpit changes and becomes infected with Liberation Theology, then it is no wonder that simple people start doubting the Catholic Faith.

    Especially when those people were poorly cathechised in the first place. Most Catholics are only nominal Catholics.

    In the case of Brazil, that was the case even in the preconciliar period, as the historically small percentage of priests revealls. But at least there were in the past more "layers" of Catholicity, of religious attitudes and concerns, if people's lives.

    Nowadays, Church attendance for most Catholics is only for Baptisms, First Communions, Confirmation in some cases, especially if the confirmand attends Catholic school, Weddings, (when the couple still wants to have a Catholic Wedding, in most cases for the sake of the ceremony as an end in itself) and Masses in the seventh day after death (in Brazil, there is no tradition of enbalming; people are usually buried in the day of death or in the day after at most, and usually there is no Requiem Mass with the body present; the main funeral liturgy then is the Mass in the seventh day of death, nowadays usually converted into a celebration of the life of the deceased).

    Given that panorama, the ugly phenomenon of celebrity priests only makes things worse, given that those celebrities
    make our religion seem ridiculous, as they engage the masses, the multitudes, borrowing the same tactics of Evangelical, neo-Pentecostal preachers.

    The question is, when will the Brazilian Bishops recognize their failiure? When will they change course and restore traditional practices en masse? When will they admit that the adoption by Brazilian Catholicism of a "Pentecostal" face, with celebrity priests, etc., has not worked and has only made things worse?

    When will those Bishops confess that they have failed precisely because they have tought little of their inheiritance, and because they decided not to hand down what they had received, instead opting to create something new?

  14. "The more Protestant our Church looks, with Pentecostal-like liturgies and ministers, the more people will flee to authentic Pentecostal sects."

    This protestantisation of the modern church coupled with vigorous ecumenism and interreligious tendencies has opened the church up to chronic destabilisation. The trend has been to gut the church of its recognisable Roman Catholic norms including The Latin Mass and so on. In the process, this has also led to a commensurate change in values and mores. In an era of ceaseless and rapidly increasing changes how can a "protestant-looking" church withstand such an onslaught. This negative dynamic cannot be resisted because it comes from within the institution itself. Admitting that protestantism has the capacity for further sectarian division, little wonder therefore that almost everywhere we witness a significant falling away.

  15. GQ Rep10:09 AM

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  16. GQ Rep10:15 AM

    I've been to Brazil, Chile, Argentina, Mexico and Guatamala on photo shoots for my job.

    I can tell you that because of Vatican II and the wholesale discarding of Catholic tradition, the rise of evangelicals is a tidal wave that will destroy the Catholic Faith there. To try to keep people in the Faith by immitating the Pentecostals was a huge mistake....laughable.
    If i was given that choice of remaining a Catholic but having to worship like the Pentecostals, or going back to the Buddhism of my ancestors (and that's going back before 1575 because my family in Japan were nobility and Catholics since the 1560's and three were martyred for the Faith by the decree of the Tokugawa Shogun)...I'd go back to Buddhism.

    No joke. I've seen the Pentecostal crap in Brazil itself, in Mexico, and in the USA on TV.

    Worthless, absolutely worthless.

  17. Sarcarsm12:37 PM

    Why get so upset? If Second Vatican assures us these evangelical communities have a real but imperfect communion with us, and they are presumably on their way to heaven with no problem, if it tells us that their human dignity confers upon them the right to be free to publicly spread their errors and attract Catholic converts, then there's no problem, right? We're just living out the vision and the dream of Second Vatican.

  18. The Brazilian Catholic Church expressed its preferential option for the poor. The poor expressed their option for the Charismatic evangelicals.

    But those who declare no faith are increasing and so the evangelicals should be as worried as the Catholics

  19. dominic19556:03 PM

    Brazil has also had a problem with schismatic "Catholic" sects setting up their own counter-church (i.e. the Brazilian Catholic Apostolic Church). Like the Sedevacantists, groups like this spawn all sorts of other offshoots headed by bishops of questionable apostolic validity and you soon have a multitude of crazy.

  20. Gionni Garnett4:17 PM

    Catholic Church freed poors with Her Social Doctrine and poors converted themselves to evangelicals sects.

  21. A lot of Catholics are really high Prtestants. Its not their fault. That's all they know and more and more realizw on some level that its not enough.

  22. Catholicreason12:11 AM

    Everyone intellectually honest admits that Vatican II doctrine and Vatican II practice are bad.

    To be Catholics men must believe that whole Catholic doctrine is good and that whole Catholic practice like holy Mass etc. is good and is good only.

    Now, if in this issue my brain works properly (if not, please correct me without hesitation), from the above necessarily follows that Vatican II doctrine and Vatican II practice aren't Catholic.

    Now, if we have any man clinging to and knowingly defending manifestly non-Catholic Vatican II doctrine and non-Catholic Vatican II practice how is he a Catholic and how can any Catholic consider such a man as his fellow Catholic, let alone as his head if he virtually occupies such position?

    So, there you have it: non-Catholic Vatican II doctrines and practices have been overflowing in The Catholic Church while non-Catholic seducers who have been spreading this most deadly poison in The Catholic Church are regarded as Catholics so that Catholics peacefully continue to eat and drink their most deadly poison. Are then any wonder these results in Brasil and elsewhere?

  23. Ao longo de toda a nossa história foram realizados combates contra os invasores protestantes no Rio de Janeiro, do nordeste brasileiro e outras localidades para garantir a pureza e integridade da fé católica no Brasil. Mas após o concílio Vaticano II, com o surgimento da teologia da libertação, da renovação carismática, do ecumenismo, e outros movimentos que vieram a desgastar o espírito apostólico e missionário da Igreja do Brasil. A CNBB de cunho esquerdista, não fez nada, e pelo visto nem vai fazer nada para deter esta invasão herética em nossa Terra de Vera Cruz. Lamentamos muito mas não vamos desistir de restaurar a integridade da fé de Nosso Senhor Jesus Cristo contra as heresias, o secularíssimo, o espiritismo da poderosa imprensa, a indiferença da maioria do clero e os esquerdistas que infestaram nossas universidades e meios de comunicação.
    Nossa Senhora Aparecida e São Pedro de Alcântara roguem a Deus por nós!

  24. Throughout our history were made ​​Protestants fighting against the invaders in Rio de Janeiro, the Brazilian Northeast and elsewhere to ensure the purity and integrity of the Catholic faith in Brazil. But after Vatican II, with the emergence of liberation theology, charismatic renewal, ecumenism, and other movements that came to wear the apostolic and missionary spirit of the Church in Brazil. The CNBB imprint left, did nothing, and apparently neither will do anything to stop this invasion of our heretical Terra de Vera Cruz. We are very sorry but we will not give up on restoring the integrity of the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ against the heresies, the secularíssimo, spiritualism of the powerful media, the indifference of the majority of the clergy and the leftists who infested our universities and media. Our Lady of Aparecida and São Pedro de Alcântara pray to God for us!


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