Blog Post

Catholic "Footprint" Grows in Past Year

By Susan Brinkmann, OCDS Staff Journalist According to newly released statistics from the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, the past year saw positive signs of growth in the Church. Agenzia Fides is reporting that there are now more than 1.1 billion Catholics in the world, a number which has increased by .07 percent from last year. The largest increases were found in America (.44), Africa, (.29) and Asia (.05), with Europe and Oceania both registering modest decreases. The number of priests in the world also increased by 1,142 men, bringing the total number to 409,166. Only in Europe did that number decline (-1,664). But this rate of increase is not keeping up with demand. The number of Catholics per priest in the world increased to an average of 2,849 Catholics per priest. This number increased on every continent except Oceania. Once again, the number of major seminarians, both diocesan and religious, rose again, increasing by 1,105 to a total of 117,024 men studying for the priesthood worldwide. The largest increases were seen in Asia (+1,380) and Africa (+878) with decreases seen in America (-278) and Europe (-728). The overall number of women religious declined by 7,746 in the past year, bringing the total to 739,068 worldwide. Substantial decreases in these numbers were seen in Europe (-8,167) and America (-3,452) with growth seen in Africa (+1,845) and Asia (+2,170).  The Church continues to play a major role in education around the world. To date, she runs 67,848 kindergartens where more than 6 million students are educated. In its nearly 100,000 primary schools, more than 30 million students are taught; another 17.7 million are educated in its 42,000+ secondary schools and 1.9 million high school students are taught in its high schools. In addition, more than 3 million young men and women are currently enrolled in Catholic universities throughout the world. The Catholic Church continues to have a huge presence in the field of health care and social work. It currently runs 5,428 hospitals, most of them in America (1,717) and Europe (1,288). It operates another 18,000 dispensaries, 15,985 homes for the elderly or chronically ill, 9,962 orphanages, 13,945 marriage counseling centers, 34,250 social rehabilitation centers and another 10,800 institutions for other kinds of social/health care work. © All Rights Reserved, Living His Life Abundantly®/Women of Grace®