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Worldwide Catholic population up, priests and religious down

April 04, 2024

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CWN Editor's Note: The world’s Catholic population grew by 1% in the last year for which full figures are available. But the number of priests and religious fell, according to official Vatican statistics.

The 2024 Pontifical Yearbook and the 2022 Statistical Yearbook of the Church show a worldwide Catholic population of 1.390 billion in 2002. The 1% increase from the previous year came mostly in Africa, which saw a 3% rise; for the world’s other continents, the Catholic population remained stable.

The number of Catholic priests in the world fell slightly, however: from 407,872 to 407,730. Again Africa saw an increase—3.2%—as did Asia. But the number of priests in Europe fell by 1.7%.

The number of men in religious orders also fell slightly, from 49,774 to 49, 414. The decline in women religious was more dramatic: from 608,958 professed women in 2021 to 599,228, or a 1.6% drop. Again the numbers rose in Africa, while falling in Europe, North America, and Oceania.

The number of seminarians preparing for the priesthood declined by 1.3%, showing a similar pattern of growth in Africa, with a sharp (6%) decline in Europe.

The above note supplements, highlights, or corrects details in the original source (link above). About CWN news coverage.


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