According to the latest statistics from the Vatican, there are now 1.229 billion baptized people in the world, a ten percent increase since 2005. The Church has grown the fastest in Africa, where the number of Catholics increased by 29 percent. Meanwhile, Europe was the only region with a decrease in growth.
The figures, gathered in December 2012 and released recently, show that the number of priests changed from 406,000 in 2005, to 414,000. Bishops showed a similar growth rate, reaching 5,000 today, while seminarians topped 120,000.
However, the numbers of religious shrunk by seven percent during the seven-year period, to 703,000.
The greatest change was in the number of permanent deacons. In 2005, they were over 33,000. Seven years later, they rose to 42,000. While the practice of ordaining permanent deacons is common in the Americas, it grew significantly in Europe.
The Vatican Publishing House published these figures recently in the 2012 edition of the Annuario Pontificio, or Pontifical Yearbook.