TUESDAY
February 8, 2000
volume 11, no. 27
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NEWS & VIEWS     Acknowledgments
Articles provided through Catholic World News and Church News at Noticias Eclesiales and International Dossiers, Daily Dispatches and Features at ZENIT International News Agency. CWN, NE and ZENIT are not affiliated with the Daily CATHOLIC but provide this service via e-mail to the Daily CATHOLIC Monday through Friday.

NEW STATISTICS SHOW CATHOLICISM ON THE RISE

    VATICAN (CWNews.com) -- For the first time since 1978, the number of priests in the world rose last year. That was one of the key findings in a compilation of statistics about the Catholic Church, issued by the Vatican on February 5.

    The Annuario Pontificio, released each year by the Holy See, is a thick (this year, 2,350 pages) red volume, which contains a variety of official statistics about Catholic dioceses, religious institutes, the Church diplomatic corps, and the Roman Curia. The latest edition furnishes the latest available statistics as of December 31, 1999.

    The number of priests in the world at the end of 1999 was 404,626-- up 0.1 percent from the figure for 1998, which was 101,208. The number of seminarians preparing for the priesthood increased by a slightly greater margin-- from 109,171 to 109,828, or 0.6 percent. There have been similarly small but nevertheless encouraging increases in the numbers of permanent deacons, lay catechists, and missionaries.

    The world's Catholic population has also grown, by about 40 million. The new Annuario Pontificio sets the number of baptized Catholics at 1, 045,000, or roughly 17.4 percent of the entire world population. Nearly half of that Catholic population-- 49.5 percent-- lives in the Western hemisphere. Europe now accounts for only 27.8 percent of the world's Catholics; Africa for 11.4 percent, Asia 10.5 percent, and Oceania only 0.8 percent.

    The only continent on which Catholics constitute a majority is the Americas (which the Vatican treats as a single continent, embracing North and South America); there Catholics constitute 63.1 percent of the total population. In Europe, Catholics comprise 41.4 percent of the population; in Oceania 26.9 percent; in African 15.6 percent, and in Asia only 3.1 percent. Those statistics were essentially unchanged during the past year.

          

February 8, 2000
volume 11, no. 27
NEWS & VIEWS

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