ROME, OCT. 23, 2005 (Zenit.org).-
Catholics are increasing in number in all continents except Europe, according to
new Church data.
According to data taken from the latest edition of the Church's statistical
yearbook, as of year-end 2003, baptized Catholics increased by 0.3%, and now
comprise 17.23% of the world's population. The data were reported by Fides, an
agency of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, on the occasion of
World Mission Sunday.
The data also reflect a slight increase in the number of priests, a decrease in
the number of women religious, and a sizable growth of lay missionaries and
The number of Catholics grew by over 15 million, totaling more than 1.085
The number of Catholics increased in Africa by 0.34%, America by 0.17%, Asia by
0.03% and Oceania by 0.37%. Europe decreased by 0.31%.
The number of persons per priest in the world increased by 156 (the overall
ratio was 12,264 to 1). By continent, the numbers were as follows: increase in
America (+63) and Europe (+57) and Oceania (+13); decrease in Africa (-409) and
The number of Catholics per priest in the world increased by 35 (the overall
ratio was 2,677 to 1). By continent: increase in America (+51) and Europe (+12),
in Africa (+29), Oceania (+13); Asia same as last year (average 2,407 Catholics
The number of ecclesiastical circumscriptions increased by 10, to 2,893, with
increases on every continent.
Mission stations with resident priests numbered 1,701 (272 more than the
previous year) with an increase on every continent, except Africa.
Mission stations without a resident priest increased by 3,068 units, to 112,115.
Increases were registered in Africa (+416), America (+4,553) end Europe (+4),
decrease in Asia (-1,710) and Oceania (-195).
The number of bishops in the world increased by 47, to 4,742. The numbers
increased on every continent, markedly in Europe (+23).
Diocesan bishops numbered 2,597 (928 fewer than the previous year), religious
bishops increased by 975, to 2,145. Diocesan bishops increased in Africa but
decreased in Europe (-615) and America (-249), religious bishops increased on
all continents, markedly in Europe (+638) and America (+ 256)
The total number of priests in the world increased by 392, to 405,450. The
highest increases were in Africa (+1,145) and Asia (+1,010). Only Europe posted
a loss (-1,897).
Diocesan priests increased by 707, with increases on all continents except
Europe, which lost 1,021. Religious priests decreased by 315. The only continent
with an increase was Asia (+447).
Permanent deacons increased by 1,427, to 31,524. The biggest increases were in
the Americas (+1,075) and Europe (+336). Only Asia showed a decrease (-3).
Permanent diocesan deacons numbered 31,000, up 1,499, with increases on all
continents. Religious permanent deacons numbered 524, down 72 the previous year.
Only Oceania posted an increase (+1).
Brothers decreased by 208, to 54,620. Increases were seen in Africa (+231) and
Asia (+327); decreases were reported in Europe (-309), the Americas (-394) and
The number of women religious fell 6,663, to 776,269. Decreases were reported in
Europe (-9.397), the Americas (-2.843) and Oceania (-297); increases were seen
in Asia (+3,445) and Africa (+2,429).
The members of male secular institutes totaled 691, an overall increase of 121
compared with the previous year. All continents posted a rise.
Members of female secular institutes also increased, by 720, to a total of
28,916. Only one continent, Asia, saw a decrease (-41).
The number of lay missionaries increased by 28,586, to 172,331, with increases
on all continents. Most lay missionaries are in the Americas (156,461); their
ranks there rose by 21,815.
Catechists in the world increased by 80,222, to 2,847,673. Increases were posted
on all continents, notably in the Americas (+53,675) and Europe (+15,672).
The number of major seminarians, diocesan and religious, decreased by 826, to a
total of 112,373.
Overall increases were posted in Asia (+686) and Oceania (+9). Diocesan major
seminarians fell by 711, to 72,266; and religious seminarians fell by 115, to
40,107. Both categories decreased in Africa, the Americas and Europe; but
increased in Asia. In Oceania, diocesan seminarians increased and religious
Minor seminarians, diocesan and religious, increased by 1,411, to 98,372.
Increases were posted only in Europe (+84) and Oceania (+57). Minor diocesan
seminarians fell by 1,081, to 75,562; religious fell by 330, to 22,810.
Both categories decreased in Africa and the Americas. Asia showed an decrease in
diocesan and increase in religious.
Europe saw an increase in diocesan seminarians, and a decrease in religious.
Oceania showed an increase in both categories.