Pontifical annual directory showed the growth of Catholics
Vatican: The Annuario Pontificio is the Holy See’s annual directory. Among other things, the more than 2000 pages of the Annuario contain information about the Apostolic See, the College of Cardinals and the whole Roman Curia, as well as a list of the Holy See’s diplomatic missions and the world’s dioceses, exarchates and areas under Apostolic administration. Some of the more interesting elements contained in the Annuario tell us about the growth of the Church throughout the world.
The 2011 Annuario reports a significant increase in the number of baptized faithful, which rose by 15 million from 1 billion 166 million in 2008 to 1 billion 181 million in 2009 (the last years for which data are available) – with nearly half of all the world’s Catholics living in the Americas. Asia’s Catholic population rose slightly during the same period as a percentage of that continent’s total population.
The number of priests in the world also grew modestly, continuing an upward trend that began a decade ago: there were 410,593 priests in the world in 2009, up from 405,178 in the year 2000.
The number of candidates for priestly ordination grew by nearly 1%, from 117,024 in 2008, to 117,978 in 2009, with the number of men in formation from Asia and Africa growing by more than 2%, while the number of seminarians from Europe and America contracted slightly.
The number of women religious, meanwhile, dropped by nearly 10 thousand, to a worldwide total of 729,371: significant growth in the number of African and Asian women religious was not enough to offset declines in other areas.