Tuesday, April 1, 2008

The Legacy of Schism

Muslims Now Outnumber Catholics
(CWNews.com) - The world's Catholics are now outnumbered by Muslims, according to the editor of the Vatican's statistical yearbook.

Msgr. Vittorio Formenti, who supervises the compilation of demographic figures for the Annuaro Pontificio, told L'Osservatore Romano that the latest data-- from 2006-- show a worldwide population of 1.115 billion Catholics, but 1.322 billion Muslims.

"For the first time in history, we are not at the top," Msgr. Formenti told the Vatican newspaper. He noted that the Catholic proportion of the world's population has held steady in recent years, while the Muslim representation has grown because of the larger family sizes in the Islamic world. Catholic families are having fewer children, he observed....

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THE CATHOLIC KNIGHT: Nearly 1,000 years ago (1054 AD) Christianity suffered the first of two major schisms that would last throughout the ages. A dispute based primarily on the politics of power, the Church was divided between east and west. Five-hundred years later (16th century), the Church would again suffer another schism between north and south. Catholic Christians in northern Europe broke away to form their own national churches (later to be called Protestant denominations), while Catholics in southern Europe remained faithful to the universal Church and the apostolic see. These schisms remain in place today. The Eastern Orthodox have preserved their identity entirely, minus their communion with Rome. The Protestants of northern Europe have splintered into literally thousands of denominations, sects and affiliations, many unrecognizable from their origin, and their schism with Rome remains in full effect.

Some non-Catholic Christians may wonder how this news has anything to do with them. Non-Catholics must realize that Catholicism is the world's largest Christian body, and now that Muslims outnumber Catholics, they have already outnumbered all other Christian groups many times over...

Number of Christians...
  • Catholic 1,115,000,000 (just over 1.1 billion)
  • Orthodox/Eastern Christian 240,000,000
  • Conservative Protestant* 200,000,000
  • Liberal Protestant 150,000,000
  • African indigenous sects 110,000,000
  • Pentecostal 105,000,000
  • Anglican 73,000,000
* By "Conservative Protestant" I mean all Evangelical, Baptist, Born-Again and Bible Christians.

In comparison the number of Muslims worldwide is 1,322,000,000 (1.3 billion).

The Devil's strategy is the same with the New Israel (The Church) as it was with Ancient Israel - divide and conquer. Since the schism of Christianity, the religion of Islam has grown, to surpass in size what is left of the original Church (Catholicism), threatening to surpass all of Christianity within the next 100 years.

In the Second Vatican Council the Catholic Church acknowledged that men on both sides were to blame for these schisms, and in AD 2000 Pope John Paul II formerly apologized for the the Catholic Church's part.

In 2008 the Vatican officially acknowledged that Muslims outnumbered Catholic Christians, and Pope Benedict XVI baptized a former Muslim on the Easter Vigil, while simultaneously calling for legal reciprocity for Christians in the Islamic world. The message of this pope about Islam echoes that of his predecessor about Communism -- Do Not Be Afraid!

To counter the Islamic threat, Christians must begin to work together, to evangelize the Muslim world whether it's legal to do so or not. For years Christians have been working underground in places like Saudi Arabia to bring Muslims to Christ, and it's working. History has proved that the blood of the martyrs are the seeds of the Church. If Muslims continue to persecute Christians in the Islamic world, then in the long run the Church will only become more powerful there than they can possibly imagine. In short, Islam's only chance for long-term survival is reciprocity. Islamic nations must give Christians the same rights and freedoms given to Muslims in Western nations, or else Islam will go down in history as the world's most intolerant religion offering nothing new other than excessive violence in the name of religion.

While this is going on, Christians must work toward putting an end to the schisms that divide us. Jesus asked in his prayer to the Father: "That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me." - John 17:21. In making this request he warned us of what would happen if Christians did not remain together as one. The witness of the gospel would be scandalized by division, and the world would not believe. Isn't that exactly what has happened since the schisms of 1054 and the 16th century? Christians are divided, so the world no longer believes, and instead more and more people are embracing Islam. This is just as Jesus warned in his prayer to the Father.

The Catholic Church has admitted the fault of it's role in these schisms in the Second Vatican Council, and through Pope John Paul II she has apologized for them. More than that, the Catholic Church made major changes and reforms in the Second Vatican Council to address the major issues of these schisms. The time is long since past due for a little reciprocation from the Eastern Orthodox and Protestants. In recent years we've seen small steps made by the leaders of the Eastern Orthodox churches, and these are to be applauded, but we have yet to see any movement among the Protestants. How many Protestant denominations have apologized for their role in the schism of the 16th century? As of yet - none that I am aware of. It is hard to even get some Protestants to admit that they had any role in this schism at all. Indeed, much of it is blamed solely on Catholics. If the premise of Jesus prayer is ever to be met by these groups, then Protestants must begin to question what fault lies at the feet of the Reformation fathers in this schism. Protestants who are unable to do this are being irrational and obstinate in a sin of pride.