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Vatican statistics claim 1.07 billion Catholics

The new Vatican Year Book has revealed that Catholics make up 17.2% of the world's population, with almost half that figure living in the Americas, which is 63% Catholic.

Catholic World News reports that the Year Book (Annuario Pontificio) cites figures for 2002, the last year for which full statistics are available. It shows a slight increase in the number of diocesan priests worldwide, balanced by a slight decrease in the number of priests belonging to religious orders.

While the total number of priests has remained steady, there were significantly more permanent deacons and lay missionaries. Numbers in both categories grew by more than 3%.

There were 112,982 men studying for the priesthood in 2002, a small increase on the previous year. The growth in the number of seminarians was most pronounced in Africa, at 5.8%. In America there was a 1.4% increase, while numbers decreased in Europe and Asia.

Altogether there were more than 4.2 million Catholics engaged in pastoral work: 4695 bishops; 405,058 priests; 30,097 permanent deacons; 54,828 male religious; 782,932 female religious; 28,766 members of secular institutes; 143,745 lay missionaries; and 2.7 million catechists.

New Vatican yearbook shows Catholic population at 1.07 billion (Catholic World News 3/2/04)

Annuario Pontificio 2003 (
World Catholic population passes one billion (CathNews 10/2/03)
Vatican statistics reveal less religious priests (CathNews 12/2/02)
Vatican yearbook reveals Holy Year statistics (CathNews 2/7/01)

4 Feb 2004