April 2, 2009. Catholicism is on the rise, according to the recently published Pontifical Yearbook for 2009. The Church’s Central Office for Statistics registered a 1.4% increase in catholics around the world since 2007. The data was taken from the 2.936 ecclesial districst in the planet.
The 97th edition of the Yearbook counts 1 billion 147 million Catholics worldwide. That is 16 million more than two years ago.
The greatest increases were in Oceania with 4.7% and in Africa with a 3% increase.
Catholics in Asia rose 1.7% and in Europe 0.8%.
However, in the Americas faithful declined by 0.1%. In spite of the slight decrease the continent still remains as the home of half of the world’s Catholics.
The increase was more evident were Catholics are minorities, like Africa and Asia, than in continents where Catholicism is the established religion like America and Europe.
Clergy is also on the rise. 169 new bishops were ordained in 2008 and priests have increased by around 3.000 in the past 8 years, bringing their number up to 408 thousand, most of the new priests come from Africa and Asia.
A white volume of the Yearbook, or Annuario Pontificio, was presented to Benedict XVI. The original copies are in red and contain the contact information of the entire Catholic Church.