Number of Catholics and priests are on the rise
The total number of Catholics worldwide is up 1.3% from last year, bringing the total number to 1.181 billion. These figures were published in the 2011 Pontifical Yearbook. Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone and Subsitute for General Affairs Archbishop Fernando Filoni, two of the pope’s principal collaborators, approached the Holy Father with the figures.
The pope found that nearly half of world’s Catholic population, 49.4%, is in the Americas, compared to 25% in Europe, 10.7% in Asia, 15.2% in Africa, and 0.8% in Oceania.
The total number of priests has also increased. In the past ten years, it has risen from 405,178 to 410,593. There are also now more bishops in the world. The number has grown from 5,002 to 5,065 over the past year. The average age of a bishop is 68 and each bishop has an average of 81 priests in their charge.
The number of men studying for the priesthood has been steadily increasing in recent years. The number increased from 117,024 in 2008 to 117,978 in 2009. Africa and Asia have seen the most dramatic increases, with a 2.39% and 2.2% growth respectively.
Women religious are still the largest group collaborating with the bishops, although their numbers have been on the decline. Their total number dropped from 739,068 in 2008 to 729,371 in 2009.
During the presentation of the Yearbook, the pope joked with one of the publishers because it happened to be his birthday.
Source: Rome Reports