As every year in the month of October, the Vatican released statistical data on the Catholic Church and its worldwide missionary activities. October 24 is celebrated by the church as World Mission Sunday.
Statistics on church structures were offered in the areas of pastoral care, healthcare, education and other assistance. These are taken from the church’s Book of Statistics, and indicate areas of increased numbers of Catholic clergy and laity in several parts of the world. Africa led the way for increase in the number of Catholics: the number of faithful now stands at 72,950,000 – an increase of 8,025,000, or 17.77 % (+ 0.29).
According to the report, the world population is now 6,698,353,000 with an increase of 81,256,000 persons compared to 2009. Population growth was registered on every continent: Africa (+ 29,674,000); America (+ 5,687,000); Asia (+ 42,914,000); Oceania (+ 670,000); Europe (+ 2,311,000). The report noted that there are currently 1,165,714,000 Catholics in the world, showing an increase of 19,058,000 worldwide over previous years. There was increase in the following areas of the world: Africa (+ 8,025,000); America (+ 7,579,000); Asia (+ 3,152,000); Europe (+ 193,000); Oceania (+ 109,000). The world percentage of Catholics increased by 0.07 %, settling at 17.40%; by continent: increases were registered in Africa (+ 0.29); America (+ 0.44); Asia (+ 0.05), while decrease was shown in Europe (- 0.1) and Oceania (0.2).
There has been a worldwide increase of the number of persons overall per priest in the world. The number now stands at 1 priest per 13,015: an increase of 136 units. The distribution by continent: increase in Africa (+ 105), Europe (+ 43), and Oceania (+ 28), and decrease in America (- 18) and Asia (- 402). The number of Catholics per priest in the world increased by 39 units (average 2,849), with increases on every continent except Oceania: Africa (+ 98); America (+ 37); Asia (+ 10); Europe (+ 14); Oceania (- 8). In June, the Catholic Church celebrated the closing of what Pope Benedict XVI had declared was the Year of the Priesthood.
Ecclesiastical circumscriptions and missions
The number of ecclesiastical circumscriptions increased by 9 to 2,945 with new circumscriptions created in: Africa +2; America +4; Asia +1; Europe +2. Mission stations with a resident priest number 1,665 (649 more than in the previous year) and are increasing on all the continents except Oceania. Mission Stations without a resident priest increased in number by 847 units, to 125,489. Increases were registered in Africa (+ 747), Asia (+ 539), Europe (+ 45), while in America (- 463) and Oceania (- 21) they decreased.
Bishops and priests
The number of bishops in the world increased by 56 units, to 5,002. Every continent, except Oceania (which is down by 4) registered an increase. The total number of priests in the world increased by 1,142 units, to 409,166. The only continents which registered a decrease was again Europe (-1,664), whereas figures grew in Africa (+ 953), America (+ 659), Asia (+ 1.120), and Oceania (+ 74). Diocesan priests increased by 1,576 units, reaching a total of 274,007 with increases in Africa (+ 821), America (+ 811), Asia (+ 746), and Oceania (+ 67) and a drop in Europe (- 869). The number of Religious priests decreased by 434 units to a total 135,159. Increases were registered as in recent years in Africa (+ 132) and Asia (+ 374), along with Oceania (+ 7) whereas numbers dropped in America (- 152) and Europe (- 795).
The number of Brothers dropped by 315 units to 54,641. Situation: increase in Africa (+ 95), America (+ 232), and Asia (+ 69). The only decreases were registered in Oceania (- 115) and Europe (- 596). An overall decrease in the number of women religious (– 7,746), today 739,068, was registered by continent as follows: increase in Africa (+ 1,845) and Asia (+ 2,170), decrease in America (– 3,452), Europe (- 8,167) and Oceania (– 142).
Seminarians, Lay missionaries and catechists
The number of lay missionaries in the world is 316,836 units, with an overall increase of 66,372 units. They have increased on all the continents except Oceania (- 50): Africa (+ 911), America (+ 57,955), Asia (+ 7,315), and Europe (+ 241). Catechists in the world increased by 89,208 units to a total of 3,082,562. Numbers grew in Africa (+ 7,318), America (+ 82,846), and Europe (+ 10,617), but dropped in Asia (- 11,011) and Oceania (- 562).
The overall number of major seminarians, diocesan and religious, rose again, increasing by 1,105 units to 117,024. Numbers grew once again this year in Africa (+ 878), Asia (+ 1,380), and Oceania (+ 64), but dropped once again in America (- 267) and Europe (- 950).
Diocesan major seminarians number 71,176 (49 less than the previous year) but Religious major seminarians increased to 45,848 (+1,154). Diocesan seminarians increased in Africa (+ 470), Asia (+ 412), and Oceania (+ 75), but decreased in America (- 278), and Europe (- 728).
In the field of education, the Catholic Church runs 67,848 kindergartens with 6,383,910 pupils; 93,315 primary schools with 30,520,238 pupils; 42,234 secondary schools with 17,758,405 pupils. The Church also cares for 1,968,828 high school pupils, and 3,088,208 university students.
Catholic charity and healthcare centers
The Church runs 5,428 hospitals most of them in America (1,717) and Europe (1,288); 18,025 dispensaries mainly in America (5,516), Africa (5,375) and Asia (3,547); 529 Care Homes for people with Leprosy mainly in Asia (285) and Africa (184); 15,985 Homes for the elderly, or the chronically ill or disabled people mainly in Europe (8,265) and America (4,143); 9,962 orphanages, about one third in Asia (3,437); 11,902 child-care centers; 13,945 marriage counseling centers mainly in Europe (5,991) and America (5,044); 34,250 social rehabilitation centers and 10,800 other kinds of institutions, mostly located in America (4,285), Europe (2,937), and Asia (2,009).