Catholicism is an important aspect of millions of people’s lives worldwide. Throughout history, missionaries have worked to spread the word and love of God throughout the world, spiritually enriching countless lives. Learn which countries have large Catholic populations and why Catholicism is so important to their citizens.
Catholic Population by Region
Catholicism is one of the most common religions throughout the world, but these numbers vary depending on the region. For example, most of Asia does not practice Catholicism, but Southeast Asia has a larger Catholic population. The Philippines, in particular, is one of the most predominantly Catholic countries in the world.
With 39% of the population identifying as Catholic, Latin America is the region with the most Catholics. The Middle East and North Africa are regions with the lowest rates of Catholics, making up less than 1% of the world’s Catholics. North America (8%) and Asia (12%) are also continents with lower Catholic demographics.
Top 10 Countries With a Predominantly Catholic Population
The Catholic Church is an important aspect of many peoples’ lives worldwide. Throughout history, the beauty and joy of Catholicism and God have been shared with the world, allowing others to grow emotionally and spiritually. Even today, Catholic missionaries continue God’s work by sharing His teachings and love across the globe. Here are the top 10 countries with the highest number of Catholic citizens:
Brazil is one of the most devout Catholic countries globally, with approximately 54.2% of people identifying as Catholic. This percentage translates to roughly 126.8 million Catholics in Brazil. The Portuguese introduced Catholicism to Brazil, and the original diocese was created in 1551.
Catholicism has remained the official religion of Brazil even after its independence. In Brazil, the church plays a large role in daily life and is meaningful to millions of families.
In terms of the number of people, Mexico is one of the countries with a large Catholic population, with approximately 98.8 million citizens identifying as Catholic. The overall population consists of roughly 72.1% of citizens following the Catholic faith. Catholicism was first introduced to Mexico by the Spanish in the early 1500s. To this day, Catholicism is an important aspect of many lives in Mexico.
3. The Philippines
There are approximately 76 million Catholics in the Philippines, which equates to about 81% of citizens. When it comes to Catholic countries in Asia, the Philippines has one of the largest Catholic populations. Like Mexico, the Spanish brought Catholicism to the Philippines to spread the faith and share the glory of God.
The Philippines achieved independence in 1898, and Catholicism remains one of the most popular religions in the country.
4. The United States
The United States has one of the highest Catholic populations globally, with approximately 51 million adults identifying as Catholic. About 21% of the population in the United States practices Catholicism. In the 1500s, the Spanish introduced Catholicism to the United States, beginning in the areas now known as Florida, Texas and California.
In the 1700s, the French also created their own missions in Alabama, Louisiana, Michigan, Arkansas and Illinois. When the United States gained its independence, its Catholic population also increased.
Italy is a predominately Catholic country in Europe, with around 50.4 million Catholics living in the country. Catholicism is the predominant religion in Italy, with 78% of citizens practicing Catholicism. Italy has a long relationship with Christianity, as this religion was introduced to the nation in the first century. While Vatican City is located within Italy, it’s a separate country and isn’t included in Italy’s population.
Catholicism has always been influential and important to Italy, and Rome is one of the most popular places for pilgrimage, allowing Catholics to deepen their spiritual beliefs and become closer to God.
In France, approximately 40 million citizens practice Catholicism. Roughly 63% to 66% of the French population identifies as Catholic. France also has a long history of Christianity and Catholicism, with some of the earliest signs of Christianity in France documented in the second century. Today, Catholicism remains an important aspect of life for many French adults and families.
Colombia has approximately 36 million Catholics, totaling about 75% of the population. The Spanish first brought Catholicism to Colombia in 1508, and the first diocese was created in 1534. In 1819, Colombia received independence from Spain, but Catholicism remained a major religion for most of the population. Colombia is one of the most devout Catholic countries in South America.
Poland is a very religious country with over 33 million citizens practicing Catholicism, which makes up around 87% of the population. In Poland, Pope John Paul II, who is famous for renewing widespread Catholic faith, continues to be a powerful religious symbol and figure. Catholicism is the most prominent religion in Poland by a large percentage.
In Spain, approximately 61.3% of citizens identify as Catholic, accounting for over 32 million residents. Catholicism became widespread in Spain in the 15th century following the conquest of Granada. Many Catholic cathedrals, basilicas and churches are present throughout Spain, rich with history and beauty. These cathedrals play a fundamental role in Spain’s history and signify the importance of the Catholic faith throughout the country.
10. The Democratic Republic of the Congo
Finally, the Democratic Republic of the Congo is one of the most devout Catholic countries in Africa, with over 28 million citizens practicing Catholicism. Approximately 75% of the population identifies as Christian, with 33% of these being Catholics. The Catholic Church continues to play an important role in the country.
Support Nations Around the Globe With Catholic World Mission
At Catholic World Mission, we strive to spread the message of the Church and Christ to enrich the lives of the spiritually and physically poor. Catholic World Mission works to rebuild communities worldwide with generous donations from our supporters. While many countries throughout the world are rich in Christ’s love, there are still many people who have yet to discover the blessing of Christ.
Fortunately, with generous donations from supporters across the world, we can support missionaries, priests and laypeople making a difference in the lives of others both spiritually and materially. We stand in the gap between our generous donors and the poor of the world to help spread the word of Jesus.
The pillars of the Catholic World Mission are Evangelization, Education, Dignified Living. Our services through our Dignified Living pillar help provide physical restoration by supplying medical support, food-based services, safe structures and more. Education is also an important aspect of our organization, and we provide educational services to impoverished young children to help break the cycle of poverty.
Additionally, our Evangelization pillar helps people know Jesus as their savior and his teachings. We spread the Gospel of Christ through various Christ-centered programs. We promise to maximize the impact of every generous dollar donated to better people’s lives worldwide.
Help us spread God’s love throughout the world and better the lives of the materially and spiritually impoverished, and donate to the Catholic World Mission today.
Learn More About Catholic History
Deacon Rick Medina is the Executive Director of Catholic World Mission and oversees the management of all of Catholic World Mission's projects in over 35 countries. He was ordained a deacon of the archdiocese of Atlanta in 2013. He currently serves at All Saints Catholic Church in Dunwoody, Georgia, and is active in several ministries, including RCIA, baptism preparation, Life Teen, Altar Server group, Grief Share, and Adult Faith Formation.