A study by the Pontifical Council for Culture has revealed that religious indifference and faith in a “faceless God” is on the increase throughout the world, while “active atheism” appears to be diminishing.
“The three hundred responses to our study show a weakening of the faith, both in atheism and in the Church, in the dominant Western culture, which is characterized by a mix a technical rationalism and permissive hedonism,” said Cardinal Paul Poupard, president of the Vatican dicastery that is holding its plenary assembly this week.
Cardinal Poupard added that “Africa, Asia and also Latin America continue to be invigorated by popular religion in the heart of their cultures.”
Nevertheless, he underscored that “Latin America is characterized by a distortion between the liberal, agnostic elite and the masses that strive to meet the basic needs of the body and the heart.”
The document emphasizes that “the spiritual drama of our age” is that “the world population is backing away from religious practice and any reference to faith.”
“Unlike the past, these are not isolated cases, related to certain individuals or intellectual elitists, but rather a mass phenomenon,” the text indicates.
The report, which included data from various countries, shows that in Italy, for example, 14% of Italians are “indifferent to religion,” and of that number 40% consider themselves atheist.
The study also reveals that 54% of the Dutch, 37% of Belgians, and 43% of the French do not practice any religion.
In Hungary, according to the national census of 2001, only 887 people out of a population of 10 million consider themselves atheists. In the Czech Republic one third of the population is Catholic and one half atheist.