Islam has surpassed Roman Catholicism as the world's largest religion, L’Osservatore Romano reported on Sunday.
"For the first time in history, we are no longer at the top: Muslims have overtaken us," Monsignor Vittorio Formenti said in an interview with the Vatican daily.
According to the most recent figures from the Vatican yearbook of statistics, the number of the world's population that are Muslims is 19.2%, with the number of Catholics trailing behind at 17.4 %.
"It is true that while Muslim families, as is well known, continue to make a lot of children, Christian ones on the contrary tend to have fewer and fewer,” Msgr. Formenti said.
These latest results come from 2006 and are not all Vatican tabulated. The figures on Muslims were put together by Muslim countries and then provided to the United Nations, he said, adding that the Vatican could only guarantee its own data.
When considering all Christians and not just Catholics, Christians make up 33 percent of the world population, Formenti said.