Catholic trends in Latin America

Screenshot of map showing morality opinions by country in Central and South America. (Pew Research Center)

Last week, the Pew Research Center released the results of massive survey of religious life in Latin America (an overview can be read in Spanish here and in Portuguese here). The big news out of the survey is that the traditionally Catholic region – 40 percent of the world’s Catholic live there – is becoming increasingly Pentecostal.

Also in the survey:

  • Latin American Catholics love Pope Francis – only in Guatemala did the percentage of people with a favorable opinion of him fall below 60 percent. However, former Catholics in Latin America are less enthusiastic, many of them stating that it’s too soon to judge. In Mexico, for example, only 25 percent of former Catholics had favorable opinion of the pontiff, compared to 86 percent of current Catholics.
  • Many Latin Americans believe there is a conflict between religion and science, regardless of their personal religious affiliation. Uruguay was the country least likely to believe there was conflict, with 26 percent of Catholics, 33 percent of the religiously unaffiliated and 40 percent of Protestants agreeing. The Dominican Republic was the country most likely to believe religion and science are in conflict. There, 63 percent of Catholics believe there is a conflict, as do 67 percent of Protestants and 60 percent of the religiously unaffiliated.
  • Religious affiliations in Latin America are closely related to age. In all 18 countries, the youngest demographic was the religious unaffiliated while Catholics were the oldest demographic. The religiously unaffiliated are also more likely to be male, whereas both Catholic and Protestants had more even gender distribution.

This interactive map, also from the Pew Research Center, compares opinions on moral issues between Latin America’s Catholics and Protestants.