By ZENIT Staff

Like every year, in view of World Mission Day, which this year celebrates its 94th anniversary on Sunday, October 18, 2020, Fides News Service offers some statistics chosen to give a panorama of the missionary Church all over the world. The tables are taken from the latest edition of the «Church’s Book of Statistics» published (updated to 31 December 2018) regarding members of the Church, church structures, healthcare, welfare, and education. Please note that variations are indicated in brackets, increase (+) or decrease (-) compared to the previous year (2017), according to the comparison made by Fides News Service. Finally, the picture of ecclesiastical circumscriptions dependent on the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples is reported.

World Population

As of December 31, 2018, the world population was 7.496.394.000, with an increase of

88.020.000 units compared to the previous year. Population growth, almost half compared to the previous year, was registered on every continent, including Europe. Increases were registered above all in Asia (+41.641.000) and in Africa (+36.549.000), followed by America (+7.949.000), Europe (+1.165.000), and Oceania (+716.000).

Catholics

On the same date, December 2018, Catholics in the world numbered 1.328.993.000 units with an overall increase of 15.716.000 compared to the previous year. The increase affects all continents, including Europe (+94.000), which confirms its third year of growth. As in the past, increases were registered above all in Africa (+9.208.000) and in America (+4.458.000), followed by Asia (+1.779.000) and Oceania (+177.000).

The world percentage of Catholics remains unvaried compared to the previous year, settling at 17,73%. With regards to the continents, a slight increase was registered in Africa (+0,18) and Asia (+0,01), decrease in America (-0,06), Europe (-0,05) and Oceania (-0,03).

Persons and Catholics per priest

This year the number of persons per priest in the world increased by 170 units, average 14.638. There are increases in America (+72) and Oceania (+64). A decrease in Asia (-38), Europe (-34) and Africa (-1).

The number of Catholics per priest in the world increased by 42 units, almost the same as the previous year (+38), average 3.210. There are increases in Africa (+46), America (+40), Europe (+26), Oceania (+15). The number of persons per priest in Asia remains unvaried.

Ecclesiastical circumscriptions and mission stations

The number of ecclesiastical circumscriptions increased by 8 units compared to the previous year, to 3.025. New circumscriptions were created in America (+5), Asia (+2), Europe (+1), while the number in Africa (541) and Oceania (81) remains unvaried.

Mission Stations with a resident priest number 2.916 (+257). Increases were registered in Africa (+179), in Asia (+139) and in Oceania (+10). Decrease was registered in America (-71), unvaried in Europe.

Mission Stations without a resident priest decreased by 548 units, reaching a total 137.243 with variations in all continents: decrease in Africa (-503), in Asia (-467), in Europe (-7); increase in America (+409) and in Oceania (+20).

Bishops

The total number of Bishops in the world decreased by 12 units, to 5.377. Diocesan Bishops increased (+6) and Religious Bishops decrease (-18). Diocesan Bishops number 4.122, while Religious Bishops number 1.255.

Diocesan Bishops increase in Asia (+17) and in Oceania (+1), decrease in America (-9), Africa (-2) and Europe (-1). Religious Bishops increase only in Oceania (+1), while decrease in Africa (-5), in America (-10), Asia (-2) and Europe (-2).

Priests

The total number of priests in the world also decreased this year, to 414.065 (-517). The continent which registered a major decrease was again Europe (-2.675) as well as America (-104). Increased were registered in Africa (+1.391), Asia (+823) and Oceania (+48).

Diocesan priests in the world increased by 64 units, reaching a total of 281.874, with a decrease again in Europa (-1.595), to which is added Oceania (-16). Increases were registered in Africa (+904), Asia (+686), America (+85).

The number of Religious priests decreased by 581 units, to a total 132.191. Increases were registered as in recent years in Africa (+487), in Asia (+137) and in Oceania (+64), whereas numbers dropped in Europe (-1.080) and in America (-189).

Permanent Deacons

Permanent deacons in the world continue to increase, this year reaching 610 units, to 47.504. The highest increase was registered again in America (+293), followed by Europe (+271), Oceania (+25), Africa (+13) and Asia (+8).

Permanent diocesan deacons in the world are 46.813, with an overall increase of 621 units. They increase on every continent except in Asia (-4): Europa (+299), America (+297), Oceania (+26), Africa (+3).

Religious permanent deacons number 691, with a decrease by 11 units compared to the previous year. Decreases in Europe (-28), America (-4) and Oceania (-1), increases in Asia (+12) and Africa (+10).

Men and Women religious

The number of non-religious priests decreased for the sixth consecutive year, by 594 units, to 50.941. A decrease was registered in Europe (-591), America (-290) and Oceania (-17). Increases in Africa (+217) and Asia (+87).

Even this year there is an overall decrease in the number of women religious, by 7.249 units, like the previous year, to a total 641.661. An increase, once again was registered, in Africa (+2.220) and in Asia (+1.218), decrease in Europe (-7.167), America (-3.253) and Oceania (–267).

Members of secular institutes, male and female

Members of male institutes number 614, and increase (+29), in contrast with previous years. A particular increase was registered in Europe (+16), America (+15); Asia (+5), decrease in Africa (- 7), unvaried in Oceania.

Members of female institutes decreased this year, by 591 units, to a total of 21.466 members. Increase in Asia (+32), Africa (+10), while a decrease was registered in Europe (-501), in America (-130) and in Oceania (-2).

Lay missionaries and Catechists

The number of lay missionaries in the world is 376.188, with an overall increase of 20.388 units, in Europe (+128), America (+8.129), Asia (+12.433), decrease in Oceania (-12) and in Africa (-290).

Catechists in the world decreased by 43.697 units, to a total 3.076.624. Decreases were registered in America (-40.846), Europe (-9.418), Oceania (-321), increases were registered in Africa (+5.133) and in Asia (+1.755).

Major seminarians

The number of major seminarians, diocesan and religious, increased this year, they are globally 552 units, reaching a total of 115.880. Increases were registered in Africa (+964), in Asia (+354) and in Oceania (+52). Decrease in Europe (-696) and in America (-122).

Major diocesan seminarians number 69.959 (-747 compared to the previous year) and Religious major seminarians 45.921 (+1.299). Diocesan seminarians increases were registered only in Africa (+450), while decreases were registered in Europe (-653), America (-296), in Asia (-227) and in Oceania (-21).

Religious seminarians increase in Africa (+514), in Asia (+581), in America (+174) and in Oceania (+73), while a decrease was only registered in Europe (-43).

Minor seminarians

The total number of minor seminarians, diocesan and religious this year decrease for the third consecutive year by 617 units to 100.164. Overall decrease on all continents except Asia (+340): in America (-529), Africa (-226), Europe (-169) and in Oceania (-33).

Minor diocesan seminarians number 77.515 (-821) and religious seminarians number 22.649 (+204). The number of diocesan minor seminarians increased only in Asia (+178). Decrease in Africa (-406), America (-528), Europe (-50) in Oceania (-15).

Religious minor seminarians decreased in Europe (-119), Oceania (-18) and America (-1), while an increase was registered in Africa (+180) and in Asia (+162).

Catholic schools and education

In the field of education, the Catholic Church runs 73.164 kindergartens with 7.376.858 pupils; 103.146 primary schools with 35.011.999 pupils; 49.541 secondary schools with 19.307.298 pupils. The Church also cares 2.251.600 high school pupils, and 3.707.559 university students.

Catholic charity and healthcare centers

Charity and healthcare centers run in the world by the Church include: 5.192 hospitals, most of them in Africa (1.404) and in America (1.365); 15.481 dispensaries, mainly in Africa (5.427), America (4.269); 577 Care Homes for people with Leprosy, mainly in Asia (316) and Africa (209);

15.423 Homes for the elderly, or the chronically ill or people with a disability, mainly in Europe (8.123) and in America (3.692); 9.295 orphanages, mainly in Asia (3.197) and in Europe (2.278); 10.747 creches, mainly in Asia (3.013) and in America (2.992); 12.515 marriage counseling centers, mainly in Europe (5.624) and America (4.332); 3.225 social rehabilitation centers and 31.091 other kinds of institutes.

Ecclesiastical Circumscriptions dependent on the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples

The ecclesiastical Circumscriptions dependent on the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples (Cep) are 1.119. Most of the ecclesiastical circumscriptions entrusted to Propaganda Fide are in Africa (516) and in Asia (484), followed by America (73) and Oceania (46). (Agenzia Fides, 18/10/2020)

View full statistical report here

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