March 04, 2009
The number of Catholics in the world has increased by 1.4%, with particular gains in Oceania and Africa. Vocations to the priesthood grew overall by 0.4%, though they decreased in Europe. The 2007 statistics were published in the new edition of the pontifical yearbook, called the Annuario Pontificio.A communiqué released by the Holy See states that the worldwide Catholic Church included 1.147 billion people in 2007 -- a 16 million increase since 2006. The numbers of baptized grew significantly in Oceania and Africa by 4.7% and 3%, respectively. Positive gains were made in Asia (+1.7%) and Europe (+0.8%). While North and South American Catholics decreased by 0.1%, they still represent half of all Catholics on the planet.The number of priests maintains a moderate growth trend that began in 2000 after more than 20 years of losses. Over the course of eight years ending in 2007, the Church's body of priests rose from 405,000 to 408,000. Africa and Asia reported strong results, whereas numbers were stable in North and South America. Europe and Oceania reported significant declines during the same period.Finally, the number of candidates for the priesthood increased by 0.4% on a global scale, almost reaching 116,000. Africa and Asia grew in priestly vocations, while Europe and America registered respective reductions of 2.1% and 1%.
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