Orthodox Christianity grows

The proportion of Orthodox Christians is decreasing worldwide, while the proportion of Catholics and Protestants is growing. That is the result of a new study. Catholicism has spread beyond Europe.

While Orthodoxy has remained largely concentrated in Europe over the past hundred years, Catholicism and Protestantism have expanded outside the continent, according to the study published by the Washington research institute Pew.

Percentages and absolute numbers

According to this, 12 percent of Christians around the world are still Orthodox today, compared with 20 percent a hundred years ago. In contrast, the proportion of Catholics among Christians worldwide rose from 47 to 50 percent between 1910 and 2010 and the proportion of Protestants - and other groups included by the Pew Institute, such as Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses - from 32 to 38 percent.

In absolute numbers, the Orthodox Christian population around the world has more than doubled in a hundred years. It is now almost 260 million - more than 100 million of them in Russia alone. Despite this increase in the absolute numbers, the proportion of Orthodox Christians in total Christianity is declining because the number of Protestants and Catholics has grown even more.

Geographical distribution

The geographical distribution of Orthodoxy has also changed significantly over the past hundred years. In 1910 the three main branches of Christianity Orthodoxy, Catholicism and Protestantism were still concentrated in Europe. Today, however, almost four out of five Orthodox Christians (77 percent) live on the "old continent".

In contrast, only about a quarter of Catholics (24 percent) and an eighth of Protestants (12 percent) still live in Europe, compared with around 65 and 52 percent respectively in 1910.