Written by The Guardian
March 31, 2008
The number of Muslims has overtaken that of Roman Catholics for the first time, the Vatican said yesterday. Muslims account for 19.2% of the world's population, while Catholics make up 17.4%, according to the Vatican's new statistics yearbook, which is based on figures for 2006.
"For the first time in history we are no longer at the top: the Muslims have overtaken us," said Monsignor Vittorio Formenti, who edited the yearbook.
"While it is known that Muslim families continue to have many children, Christian families are having fewer," he said in an interview with the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano.
The Vatican data showed that Christians as a whole, including Orthodox and Protestant groups as well as Catholics, made up 33% of the world's population.
Applying the percentages to the 2006 world population of about 6.5 billion, Muslims would have made up 1.25 billion of the total, Catholics 1.13 billion and all Christians 2.15 billion.