Friday, October 20, 2023

World Catholic population rises again; among clergy, only the Order of Permanent Deacons growing


Thousands of priests and consecrated religious came for World Youth Day in Lisbon in 2023Thousands of priests and consecrated religious came for World Youth Day in Lisbon in 2023 

Global Catholic population rising as number of priests, religious falls

Ahead of the 97th World Mission Sunday taking place this weekend, the Fides news agency publishes statistics that offer a perspective of the missionary Church present all over the world.

By Sr. Nina Benedictka Krapic, VMC

As every year, in view of World Mission Sunday taking place this year on 22 October, the Vatican’s Fides news agency has released a report offering a detailed panorama of the statistics of the universal Church across the globe.

The report compared the numbers on the day of 31 December 2021 to the previous year on 31 December 2020.

There were 1.375 billion Catholics in the world, representing an overall increase of 16.24 million Catholics compared to the end of 2020.

The increase affects all continents, except Europe. As in the past, increases were registered above all in Africa and in the Americas.

The global percentage of Catholics decreased slightly to 17.67%.

Falling number of bishops, priests, religious

The number of bishops and priests is also decreasing. There are 5,340 in the world, mostly Diocesan, with Religious Bishops decreasing as well.

The total number of priests in the world decreased to around 407,872, a drop in 2,347 priests.

The continent which registered the largest decrease was again Europe, with 3,632 fewer priests. Increases were registered in Africa and in Asia (1,518 and 719, respectively).

Diocesan priests in the world decreased by 911, while religious priests decreased by 1,400.

As the number of priests decreases, the number of Catholics per priest in the world increased, so in average there are 3,373 Catholics for every priest in the world, a rise of 59 people per priest.

However, the number of permanent deacons continues to increase all over the world, to 49,176.

Regarding women religious, there has been an overall decrease, with 10,588 fewer nuns. Here too Europe recorded the largest drop in consecrated women (7,804 fewer religious women).

Catholic schools and other services

In the field of education, the Catholic Church runs more than 74,368 kindergartens with 7.565 million pupils, as well as 100,939 primary schools with 34.7 million students, and 49,868 secondary schools with 19.48 million pupils.

Charity and healthcare centres run in the world by the Church include 5,405 hospitals and 15,276 homes for the elderly, chronically ill or people with a disability.

The number of orphanages counts over 9,703, mainly in Asia (3,230).

There are also 10,567 creches, 10,604 marriage counselling centres, 3,287 social rehabilitation centres, and 35,529 other kinds of institutes.

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