The Apostolic Nuncio of Mexico urges the bishops of the country to confront the reality of the country because the country’s Catholic population is shrinking and Mexicans are increasingly identified as secular.
At the beginning of the half-yearly meeting of the Mexican Bishops’ Conference on April 12, Archbishop Franco Coppola also asked his virtual audience to reconsider their pastoral approach. Fewer people participate in parish life and fewer couples get married in church.
“The fall of the Catholic population in this country of Guadeloupe is very worrying,” Archbishop Coppola said. “How much faith we have not been able to build in recent decades – as we thought or wished – we now see more clearly in getting baptized.”
“We must recognize that the gospel and our Lord Jesus Christ will always be attractive. It is clear that our ‘traditional’ methods do not work today. They cannot serve in any field of evangelism.”
According to Mexico’s most recent census in 2020, the Catholic population has fallen by 5 percentage points since 2010 to 77.7 percent of the population.
Visitors see this decline as part of the trend of people across Latin America leaving the church. Despite being in some northern and western Mexican states of Sacadas and Guanajuato, more than 90 percent of the population still support Catholicism. That number drops to just 54 percent, mostly in the native state of Chiapas, where evangelical congregations are located.
The census, which is conducted every ten years, has caused some controversy among Mexican bishops. They were concerned about the way questions about religion would be asked. But in the face of criticism, they pointed to figures showing that the percentage of Mexican population who are Catholics is higher than most Latin American countries.
However, Archbishop Coppola spoke of a number of complex trends in which people are abandoning all forms of faith. According to the 2020 census, the number of people identified as secular has almost doubled, to 8.1 percent of the Mexican population.
Another 2.5 percent considered themselves religious, but without any particular religion. The proportion of Protestants and evangelical Christians grew from 7.5 percent of the population in 2010 to 11.2 percent in 2020.
“From 2010 to 2020, the fall of the Catholic population has brought more benefits to atheists than to Protestants,” Archbishop Coppola said.
Attracting young people
The youths also left the church and did not celebrate the wedding ceremony, he said. According to Nancio, the number of religious marriages fell from 431,000 in 1998 to 229,000 in 2018.
“Half of all Mexicans are under the age of thirty. We are a young country. But we cannot say that half of those who attend our worship services are young people under the age of 30, ”said Archbishop Coppola.
“There is no doubt that our families, our churches, our organizations are‘ attractive ’to the youth, men and women of our time today,” he continued.
Increase in diocesan clergy
“Partial success in recent years,” Archbishop Coppola said, “was in the industries.” The number of diocesan priests increased, however “the age of our priests continues to increase”. However, the number of religions has dropped by 60 percent in the last 20 years.