Statistics reveal baptised Catholics number passes one billion
The number of baptised Catholics increased worldwide by 38% in the 22 years to 2000, to just over one billion, or 17.3% of mankind, according to statistics released ahead of the publication of the Statistical Yearbook of the Church.
The Church's Statistics Office reports that Catholics represent 62.8% of the population in the Americas, 40% in Europe and 2.9% in Asia.
From 1978 to 2000, the number of bishops increased from 3714 to 4541, a growth of almost 22%. But the number of priests decreased by 3.75% over this period, reflecting a significant decline in numbers in Europe but an increase in Africa, Asia, America and Oceania.
The category of permanent deacons underwent the greatest evolution during the period in question, with a five-fold increase in numbers across all continents, from 5562 to 27,824.
Unordained religious numbered 75,802 in 1978 and 55,057 in 2000. Though numbers fell in Oceania, Europe and the Americas, they grew in Africa and Asia. As for female religious, there were almost a million in 1978 and 801,000 in 2000, representing a decline of 19% over 22 years.
The World's Catholics (Catholic Missionary Union of England and Wales)
7 May 2002