World Catholic population passes one billion
The number of baptised Catholics "has increased worldwide from 757 million in 1978 to 1.06 billion in 2001", according to the new Annuario Pontificio (Pontifical Yearbook).
The Yearbook points out that there is wide geographical variation in the change, contrasting a 148% increase in Africa the 25 year period with stagnation in Europe.
The Yearbook, which was launched on Friday by Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Angelo Sodano, also indicates the increase in Catholics is accompanied by a decrease in the number of priests. In, 2001, the number of priests declined by 111 compared to the previous year. However the number of seminarians increased 1.5% in the same period, which Africa and Asia making a disproportionately large contribution.
Figures also reveal a sharp rise in the number of permanent deacons (4.9%), members of secular institutes (2.7%), laic missionaries (10.1%), and catechists (6.5%).
On the whole, the number of people committed to pastoral activities of the Catholic Church are 4,270,069, distributed so: 4649 bishops, 405,067 priests (of which 266,448 diocesan), 29,204 permanent deacons, 54,970 monks and friars, 792,317 nuns, 31,512 members of secular institutes, 139,078 laic missionaries, and 2,813,252 catechists. To the number of active nuns, one must also add 51,973 nuns who have chosen a contemplative life.
Vatican statistics reveal less religious priests (12/2/02)
Vatican yearbook reveals Holy Year statistics (2/7/01)
Annuario Pontificio 2002
10 Feb 2003