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Most Catholic countries worldwide, increase seen in global south

Published: Friday, Aug. 28 2015 7:03 p.m. MDT

Church members receive communion at the Cathedral of the Madeleine in Salt Lake City. (Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News) Church members receive communion at the Cathedral of the Madeleine in Salt Lake City. (Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News)

A recent analytical report by Pew Research Center, "The Global Catholic Population," indicates the countries with the highest Catholic population today, and how the global face of Catholicism has changed in the last century.

The study, which surveyed 232 countries and territories, finds that as of 2010 the Catholic Church had 1.1 billion adherents worldwide. The Catholic Church is the body of churches that are in full communion with the Bishop of Rome. This includes the Roman Catholic Church and 22 Eastern Catholic Churches. This study defines adherents as those who self-identify as Catholics. This includes those whose religious views might be deemed unorthodox, and those who seldom pray or attend church.

With close to 127 million Catholics, Brazil has more Catholics than any other country, and 11.7 percent of the world's Catholic population. Brazil is followed by Mexico (96 million), Philippines (76 million), United States (75 million), Italy (49 million), Colombia (38 million), France (38 million), Poland (35 million), Spain (35 million) and Democratic Republic of the Congo (31 million). Together, these 10 countries account for 55.6 percent of the Catholic population worldwide. For some perspective, Brazil alone has more Catholics than Italy, France and Poland, the top three European countries on the list, combined.

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