2013-05-13 17:10:33

Catholic Church registers growth mainly in Africa, Asia

13 May, 2013 - The number of Catholics in the world grew by 1.5% to over 1.2 billion in 2011 from nearly 1.2 billion the previous year, mainly in Africa and Asia. The latest statistics on the worldwide Catholic Church are contained in Pontifical Yearbook 2013, the first copy of which was presented to Pope Francis on Monday. The yearbook which includes figures until 2011, puts the number of Catholics on earth at 1.214 billion, up from 1.196 billion in 2010, a 1.5% increase which is slightly higher that the growth of the world population of 1.23%. For this reason, the percentage of Catholics of the world’s over 7 billion population remains unchanged at 17.5%. The number of dioceses and ecclesiastical territories stands at 2979 worldwide. Continent-wise, the Church in Africa has registered the highest growth with 4.3%, while its population increased by 2.3%. Asia also showed an upward trend with a growth by 2%, while its population increased by 1.2%. In terms of the most Catholic continents, the Americas lead the way with 48.8%, followed by Europe with 23.5%, Africa 16% Asia 10.9% and Oceania with 0.8%. The number of bishops has grown to 5,132 in 2011, up from 5,104 in 2010, an increase of 0.55%. America and Europe alone account for 70% of the world’s bishops. In the decade between 2001 to 2011 the number of priests worldwide (diocesan and religious) grew by 2.1% to 413,418 from 405,418, with Africa and Asia counting more than 3,000 priests. The Americas remained unchanged, while Europe reregistered a fall of 9% over the decade. The number of non-priest men religious remained largely unchanged at 55,000 in 2011, with Asia and Africa alone accounting for 36%. However, the situation of women religious worldwide took a nosedive with a fall of 10%, from 792,000 in 2001 to 713,000 in 2011. This trend was mainly in Europe, America and Oceania, while Africa and Asia increased by 28%. On the other hand permanent deacons boomed worldwide in the same decade with more than 40% increase, mostly in Europe and America. Candidates to diocesan and religious priesthood globally went from 112,244 in 2001 to 120,616 in 2011, an increase of 7.5%, mainly in Africa and Asia, while Europe and America recorded a fall.

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