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Africa's Catholic population soaring since 2000

Catholic World News - April 27, 2010

The world's Catholic population grew from 1.045 billion in 2000 to 1.166 billion in 2008, according to the latest edition of the Vatican's statistical yearbook, which made its appearance on April 27.

Africa's Catholic population has soared by 22% since the turn of the century, the yearbook shows. In Asia the number of Catholics grew by 15.6%, in Oceania by 11.4%, and in the Americas (which are treated as a single continent by the Vatican for statistical purposes) by 10.9%.

Europe's Catholic population barely edged upward, by 1.2%. As a result of overall population growth on the continent since 2000, the Catholic percentage of Europe's population dropped from 26.8% to 24.3%.

The number of Catholic priests worldwide grew only slightly between 2000 and 2008: from 405,178 to 409,166. Again the growth was pronounced in Africa (33%) and to a lesser extent in Asia (24%), while in the number of priests fell slightly in the Americas and more steeply (7%) in Europe. The new statistical yearbook examines trends in the Church from 2000 through 2008: the latest year for which accurate figures are available. The yearbook is distinct from the Annuario Pontificio, an annual directory that provides many of the same statistics. This year's Annuario was published in February.

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  • Posted by: Jerry Francis - Apr. 28, 2010 9:25 AM ET USA

    In my Masters of Pastoral Ministry class at Anna Maria our final is a review of Lamin Sanneh's book "Whose Religon is Christianity". Fascinating book providing provocative insight into growth of the Catholic faith in Africa. There is much to consider for us here in America relative to this remarkable ongoing conversion process. Jerry

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