Catholics Now No. 1 in Britain

Anglicans second to Catholicism for first time in 400 years
By Dustin Lushing,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 23, 2007 12:47 PM CST
Pope Benedict XVI shakes hands with British Prime Minister Tony Blair during a private audience with Blair and wife Cherie at the Vatican, in this Saturday June 3, 2006 file photo. Blair's weekend appointment...   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – For the first time in 400 years, Catholicism has more adherents than the Church of England in Great Britain, the Sunday Telegraph reports. Immigrants from Eastern Europe and Africa have filled the pews of Catholic churches, while attendance at Anglican Sunday services has dipped 20% since 2000, according to a survey of English churches.

Sunday Mass averaged 861,000 people last year, compared with 852,000 Anglican worshipers. Changing UK demographics have also been a boon to Pentecostal churches, now the nation's third-largest Christian denomination. The Church of England renounced papal authority in 1534 under King Henry VIII after the Vatican refused to annul his marriage to Catharine of Aragon.