Catholic Herald Correspondent OFFICIAL figures just published in Zurich show that the traditional distinctions between Catholic and Protestant areas of Switzerland are becoming blurred.
In both predominantly Catholic and Protestant cantons, t he majority religion has been gaining ground. This is because of the greatly increased mobility of the population in recent years and also because of large-scale immigration of foreign labour, mostly from Italy.
Over the country as a whole,' Protestants are still in the majority --56 per cent against a Catholic population of 42 per cent. Protestants have made "inroads" in such staunchly Catholic cantons as Lucerne, where they now make up nearly 14 per cent a the population compared with just over 1 per cent. a century ago. In Zug there has been a rise of 15 per cent and in Solothurn the number of Protestants has quadrupled.
On the other hand, Geneva, once Calvin's city of the Reformation, has actually had a Catholic majority since 1960-about 45 pet cent compared with 42.6 per cent for the Protestants.
Similarly, Catholics have made big gains in another classic Reformation centre, the canton of Zurich, which is Switzerland's most heavily populated canton with over a million inhabitants. The home of Zwingli now has a Roman Catholic proportion of nearly 40 per cent compared with under 3 per cent 100 years ago. Since the last official census in 1960, the Catholic population of the canton has increased by 15 per cent, while the Protestants have gained only 5 per cent. There are now about half a million Italians in the country. and the Government has ordered a 10 per cent reduction in the number of foreigners by the middle of next year. This is not likely to affect Catholic statistics greatly because under a recent agreement with Italy, Italian workers in Switzerland can now in certain circumstances send for their families after IR months' reeidencA