success stories

Posted February 12, 2003

Statistics Coming Out of the Vatican -- Food For Thought

The worldwide Catholic population reached 1.06 billion at the end of 2001, an increase of nearly 1 percent from the previous year.

The number of baptized Catholics in the world had grown from 757 million in 1978 to 1.06 billion at the end of 2001. The greatest growth has been in Africa, where the number of Catholics increased 148 percent since 1978. Significant increases also have occurred in Asia, the Americas and Oceania, while the number of European Catholics has remained about the same over that period.

The number of priests declined by 111 during 2001. That reflected a decrease of 778 in religious order priests and an increase of 667 diocesan priests.

The number of seminarians increased 1.5 percent over the same period, from 110,583 to 112,244. The most significant increases came in Asia, Africa and the Americas, while Europe and Oceania registered a reduction.

Permanent deacons increased 4.9 percent, members of secular institutes were up 2.7 percent, lay missionaries increased 10.1 percent and catechists were up 6.5 percent.

The number of people involved in the church's pastoral workforce rose from 4.1 million to 4.27 million in 2001. This includes 4,649 bishops, 405,067 priests (138,619 religious order priests and 266,448 diocesan priests), 29,204 permanent deacons, 54,970 non-priest religious men, 792,317 religious women, 31,512 members of secular institutes, 139,078 lay missionaries and 2,813,252 catechists.