Over the past century, the Catholic Church has been growing fastest in one of the regions other Catholics know least. Sub-Saharan Africa accounted for only one percent of the world Catholic population in 1910. By 2010, that had jumped to 16 percent.
The faith here has a strength and exuberance that reminds some of early Christians. “These people are living a kind of New Testament experience,” says U.S. theologian George Weigel.
It is also highly conservative. Interviews in Luwero, a town in central Uganda, elicited moral stands so strict they would surprise Catholics in the West, as well as deep concern about poverty and justice.
“Modernisation has spoiled Catholics a little bit and they think they have to do whatever they want,” said Joseph Lwevuze, 58, who grows pineapples, coffee and other crops in a nearby village and teaches catechism at his local church.