Muslims > Catholics? > All Christians?

A friend emailed me the news clipping below. It’s about Islam surpassing Roman Catholicism as the world’s largest religion.

This confirms a trend which a Catholic priest shared with me when I interviewed  him in 2004, while Perry and I were in the Netherlands.

Father Ype said that church membership and attendance in the various parishes he had served in the Netherlands had been declining steadily over the years. In fact, he said, some parishes had to be dissolved and merged with adjacent parishes because of the lack of parishioners.

The church has also had to withdraw from some buildings because of lack of funds, aside from dismally low attendance. Some of these church buildings, government properties, were then leased to Muslim communities—and converted into mosques.

Fr. Ype said that this was not just because of the fact that Muslims generally do not practice birth control, although that was true (he surmised that birth control might be against Islam’s teachings, just as its more popular forms are also contrary to official Vatican teachings—the problem is, Muslims generally follow their official teachings whereas Catholics do not practice many of their church’s official teachings).

But much more important than the comparative growth in population, Fr. Ype says, the biggest factor in the decline of the Christian faith in his country and the rapid rise of Islam, is that Muslims pass the faith on to their children, whereas Christians do not.

Muslim parents are generally very diligent in teaching their children about their faith and traditions, and can be very strict in seeing to it that these are adhered to.

In contrast, Christian parents are very lax and lenient. They usually adopt the attitude of letting their children choose which belief, if any, they would follow. And, of course, in the setting of postmodern relativistic Europe, and in the midst of the attendant peer pressure and molding from the educational system and the media, the children, unguided by their parents, usually end up not believing in Christianity.

That is why Fr. Ype predicted, and I also predict, that it will not be long before the Netherlands, and in fact most of Western Europe, will be predominantly Muslim societies. what with the influx of Muslim immigrants with very strong respect for their religion and traditions. Christian households already have less children than Muslim families, yet they do not care to pass on the faith to these few children. When the Christian parents die, who will carry on the faith in the next generations?

The demographics of Europe will change dramatically in the coming years because of strong Muslim influence—and Christian parents who do not care for their faith or traditions.

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Muslims more numerous than Catholics

By ALESSANDRA RIZZO, Associated Press Writer

Sun Mar 30, 2:48 PM ET

Islam has surpassed Roman Catholicism as the world’s largest religion, the Vatican newspaper said Sunday.

“For the first time in history, we are no longer at the top: Muslims have overtaken us,” Monsignor Vittorio Formenti said in an interview with the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano. Formenti compiles the Vatican’s yearbook.

He said that Catholics accounted for 17.4 percent of the world population— a stable percentage—while Muslims were at 19.2 percent.

“It is true that while Muslim families, as is well known, continue to make a lot of children, Christian ones on the contrary tend to have fewer and fewer,” the monsignor said.

Formenti said that the data refer to 2006. The figures on Muslims were put together by Muslim countries and then provided to the United Nations, he said, adding that the Vatican could only vouch for its own data.

When considering all Christians and not just Catholics, Christians make up 33 percent of the world population, Formenti said.

Spokesmen for the Vatican and the United Nations did not immediately return phone calls seeking comment Sunday.

Copyright © 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. 

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Is This What We Want to Teach Our Children?

It’s been a busy, busy, busy two weeks. Thanks be to God, our new project is set for launching in March.

But while Perry and I have been very busy with our project, we have also been quite occupied with following the latest news on the so-called NBN-ZTE scandal. For my foreigner readers, this scandal is about alleged corruption and bribery in the National Broadband Network project of the Philippine government, and it allegedly involves not just very high officials (and, according to two state witnesses, family members of high officials) in our government, but also ZTE Corporation of China.

Now, it even seems that there is much more to this story than first thought. News anchor Ricky Carandang reported in last Tuesday’s episode of ABS-CBN’s The Correspondents  that the deal might even be an offshoot of a 2005 agreement where the Philippines, China, and Vietnam agreed to work together for oil exploration in the Spratly Islands—a deal to which lawyer Harry Roque applied the word “treason”  (paying subscribers can watch that episode online here)!

Yup, the story gets curiouser and curiouser. The progression of events and much of the details regarding the NBN-ZTE deal can be found in the links below. However, what I wanted to share through this post is what I saw and heard on TV, when Jun Lozada, the main whistleblower regarding the deal, gave a short message during a Catholic Mass held last Sunday at the La Salle Greenhills. During his message, he narrated how his young son had asked him why their family had to stay in the La Salle premises and be protected by the La Salle brothers and by nuns, their movements and freedom severely restricted. Lozada said the following in Tagalog, which I’m paraphrasing from memory:

Is this what we want to teach our children? That, in this country, those who tell the truth have to hide and fear for their lives and for their families’ lives? That those who lie and steal are the ones who are free to roam freely, go wherever they want whenever they want, and rest in beautiful, expensive, air-conditioned homes? Is this what we want to teach our children?

Good question. What legacy do we want to give our children?

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For details on the NBN-ZTE deal, non-Philippine residents could refer to the websites of Philippine news organizations including, but not limited to:

Philippine Daily Inquirer

ABS-CBN News

GMA News

Philippine Star

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