WelCom November 2023
New statistics released by the Vatican show that the global Catholic population is increasing. The annual report, released 22 October by the Vatican’s Fides news agency on World Mission Sunday, covers the one-year time period comparing the numbers of 31 December 2021 to 31 December 2020.
There were 1.375 billion Catholics in the world, representing an overall increase of 16.24 million Catholics compared to the end of 2020. The increase affects all continents, except Europe. Increases were registered above all in Africa and in the Americas.
The global percentage of Catholics decreased slightly to 17.67 per cent. The number of bishops and priests is also decreasing. There are 5,340 in the world, mostly diocesan, with religious bishops decreasing as well. The total number of priests in the world decreased to around 407,872, a drop of 2,347 priests.
The continent that registered the largest decrease was Europe, with 3,632 fewer priests. Increases were registered in Africa and in Asia (1,518 and 719 respectively).
As the number of priests decreases, the number of Catholics per priest in the world increased, so on average there are 3,373 Catholics for every priest in the world, a rise of 59 people per priest.
There has been an overall decrease of women religious, with 10,588 fewer nuns. Here, too, Europe recorded the largest drop in consecrated women (7,804 fewer religious women).