Africa and Asia lead a low, steady rise in number of Catholic priests worldwide
March 02, 2009
The Vatican's official yearbook, the Annuario Pontificio, shows a gradual increase in the number of Catholic priests worldwide. The Annuario, which was formally presented to Pope Benedict XVI on February 28, showed some growth in the world's overall Catholic population: from 1.13 billion to 1.15 billion, for 2007-- which is the last year for which full Catholic census statistics are available. There was also a small rise in the number of bishops: from 4,898 to 4.946. The most noteworthy increase, however, was in the number of priests, which has grown since 2000 after a decade of decline. There are now over 408,000 priests in the world, and more than 115,000 seminarians training for priestly ministry. The number of priests has grown by over 20% in Africa and Asia, while falling in Europe and holding steady in the Americas.