The Vatican released its Statistical Yearbook of the Church earlier this week. This latest edition, which includes information from 2000-2008, shows that the number of Catholics has increased worldwide by 11.54 percent, from 1.045 billion in 2000 to 1.166 billion in 2008.
Substantial increases were seen in Asia (15.61%), Africa (33%), Oceania (11.39%)and the Americas (10.93%) while Europe’s modest increase (1.17%) kept the Catholic population there stable.
The number of priests saw a modest increase from 405,178 to 409,166 between 2000 and 2008. The largest gains in terms of priests were in Africa and Asia where their numbers increased by 33.1% and 23.8%, respectively.
The number of female religious worldwide, while almost double the number of priests, fell from 800,000 in 2000 to 740,000 in 2008.