Catholic share of world population increases; sisters and seminarians decline
April 16, 2015
A new edition of the Vatican statistical yearbook has been published, offering a statistical glimpse of the Church as of December 31, 2013.
Between 2005 and 2013, the number of Catholics increased by over 12%, from 1.115 billion to 1.254 billion, at a rate that outstripped world population growth. 17.7% of the world’s people are now Catholic-- up from 17.3% in 2005. Much of the growth took place in Africa, whose Catholic population soared by 34% over the eight-year period and now stands at 206 million.
Worldwide, at the end of 2013, there were 5,173 bishops, 415,348 priests (up from 405,178 in 2000), over 43,000 permanent deacons, over 55,000 male religious who are not priests, 693,575 sisters, and 118,251 seminarians.
The number of priests has increased 0.3% since 2012, 2.2% since 2005, and 2.5% since 2000. Between 2005 and 2013, the number of priests rose 29.2% in Africa and 22.8% in Asia but fell 7.1% in Europe.
The number of permanent deacons increased 29% between 2005 and 2013, with almost all of the increase taking place in Europe and the Americas.
The number of professed women religious has fallen 8.8% since 2005, decreasing by over 15% in Europe, the Americas, and Oceania but increasing by 18% in Africa and 10% in Asia.
The number of major seminarians worldwide rose from 63,882 in 1978 to 110,553 in 2000 and peaked at 120,616 in 2011—an increase of 88.8% in the 33 years after the beginning of St. John Paul II’s pontificate.
Between 2011 and 2013, however, the number of seminarians fell by 2%. An increase in the number of seminarians in Africa (1.5%) was not able to make up for two-year decreases in North America (5.2%), South America (nearly 7%), Asia (0.5%), and Europe (3.6%). Between 2011 and 2013, the number of seminarians fell by over 10% in Colombia, Chile, Peru, the Czech Republic, the UK, and Austria, even as the number of seminarians rose by 4.5% in Ukraine and 7.5% in Belgium.
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