Saturday, October 17, 2020



Bryan Bustard

According to the Vatican, the number of Catholics worldwide increased by almost 16 million in a year to 1.33 billion. 

The figures, shared by the Fides News Service Oct. 16, showed that there were 15,716,000 more Catholics at the end of 2018 -- the most recent year where numbers are available -- compared to 2017. 

The growth was spread across all inhabited continents, with an increase of 94,000 in Europe, 9.2 million in Africa, 4.5 million in the Americas, 1.8 million in Asia, and 177,000 in Oceania

Fides noted that this was the third successive year that the number of Catholics in Europe had risen.

Fides, the information service of the Pontifical Mission Societies since 1927, presents the statistics annually ahead of World Mission Sunday, which takes place this Sunday, Oct. 18.

The figures also indicated that the number of priests worldwide fell in 2018 to 414,065, with Europe registering the largest decrease, followed by the Americas. Africa, Asia, and Oceania all reported higher numbers of priests. 

Overall, there was a modest increase in the number of diocesan priests and a drop in the number of religious priests. The number of Catholics per priest increased slightly, with a global average of 3,210.

Permanent deacons continued to increase, reaching a total of 47,504, with the biggest rises recorded in America and Europe.

The number of young men attending a minor seminary decreased for the third consecutive year, to 100,164. But the number attending major seminaries rose to 115,880. 

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