14,000 people per priest worldwide

Catholics is on the rise

New data released by the Vatican shows the number of Catholics is on the rise worldwide.

However, the reduction in the numbers of priests is placing pressure on the fewer clergy.

The number of Catholics grew 16 million to 1.33 billion in the past year according to figures released by the Vatican ahead of 2020 World Mission Sunday on October 18.

The percentage of Catholics in the world remained at 17.73%, indicating the increasing numbers are in line with world population growth.

All continents reflected growth. Africa reported the most significant increase in Catholics with 9.2 million.

Europe increased by 94,000, showing a rise for the third year running. Growth in the Americas was 4.5 million, 1.8 million in Asia, and 177,000 in Oceania.

Fides, the information service of the Pontifical Mission Societies has presented the statistics annually since 1927.

The figures are taken from the Annuarium Statisticum Ecclesiae, or Statistical Yearbook of the Church published on March 25.

While the number of Catholics is on the rise worldwide, the number of priests and ordained leaders has dropped significantly. The reduction is particularly notable in Europe and America.

This is according to the report issued by the Vatican Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, the body charged with distributing clergy and coordinating missions around the world.

The total number of priests in the world decreased to 414,065 in 2018, with Europe registering a drop of 2,675 priests compared to 2017.

The report also reveals a slight decrease in the number of Catholic faithful in America, Europe and Oceania, while Africa and Asia bucked the trend and continued to show signs of growth, according to the data.

The reduction in Clergy combined with the increase in Catholics is putting pressure on priests who must minister to larger numbers of people.

The figures reveal there are now 3,210 Catholics to every priest, and over 14,000 people per priest worldwide.

There has also been a significant decline in the numbers of religious women (nuns).

The number of sisters has dropped by 7429 compared to 2017.

According to an article in Religion News Service, the reasons for the steady decline of Catholic Clergy worldwide are varied. These include secularization to the Church’s ongoing sexual and financial scandals.

While the number of Clergy might be declining globally, the presence of lay missionaries is on the rise. The number of lay Catholic missionaries has grown by 20,388, to a total of 376,188, primarily in America and Asia.

The theme of this year’s World Mission Day was “Here am I, send me.”

In his message for the global Catholic event, Pope Francis acknowledged that “understanding what God is saying to us at this time of pandemic also represents a challenge for the Church’s mission.”

“In this context, the call to mission, the invitation to step out of ourselves for love of God and neighbor, presents itself as an opportunity for sharing, service and intercessory prayer,” he added.


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