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It is not all about numbers but…

VATICAN (SE): The nine years from 2005 to 2014 have seen an incremental rise in Catholic population and in the percentage it forms of the global population.

The number of Catholics increased from 1.115 billion to 1.272 billion, taking them to 17.8 per cent of the world population, up from 17.3 per cent.

Information released by the Vatican Information Service from the Pontifical Yearbook 2016 and the official statistics for 2014 compiled by the Central Office of Church Statistics on March 5, shows that Africa saw the biggest increase, with a 41 per cent rise, as against only a 23.8 per cent growth in population.

Asia showed a similar trend, with Catholic population increasing by 20 per cent compared with a 9.6 per cent growth among overall population. The Americas, which includes both the north and the south, just kept its head in front with 11.7 per cent increase in Catholics against a general 9.6 per cent and Europe scored a two per cent rise over overall population rise.

However, the southern hemisphere did not fare so well, with Oceania recording only an 15.9 per cent Catholic increase and the general population expanding by 18.2 per cent.

Worldwide Catholic distribution shows Africa with 17 per cent, the Americas with 48 per cent, Asia with 10.9 per cent, Europe 22.6 per cent and Oceania just 0.8 per cent.

In Asia, bishops prospered, showing a 17 per cent numerical increase, closely followed by Africa with 13 per cent, both well ahead of Europe on seven per cent and Oceania on four per cent.

Priests were more unstable, but overall the number went up from 406,411 to 415,792. However, while Africa showed a 32.6 per cent increase and Asia 27.1, Europe slumped by eight per cent and Oceania by 1.7.

Worldwide, permanent deacons enjoyed a 33.5 per cent increase, but most of them are in northern America and Europe, with only 1.7 per cent living in Asia or Africa.

Overall, brothers declined, but showed a healthy return in Asia where their ranks swelled by 35 per cent and in Africa by 28 per cent.

Seminarians showed a rise from 114,439 to 116,939, but not all news was good news, as their numbers peaked in 2011 at 120,616.


Africa, Asia and Oceania showed the dynamic growth, while Europe declined and the Americas, mostly due to sluggish growth in Latin America, only grew slightly.

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