March 18, 2013. (Romereports.com)
A snapshot of the latest figures available on the world's Catholic population reaffirms what's been known for years, the growth of the Church is shifting East as it decreases in the West.
According to the 2012 Pontifical Yearbook, the most recent report on the status of the world's Catholics, there are 1.196 billion Catholics
, or one of every six people in the world.
By looking at the top ten countries by Catholic population, you get an accurate breakdown of where most Catholics in the world live.
Half of the top ten are in the Americas, including three of the top four. Another three are in Europe, while, and one in Asia.
Rounding out the top ten, and depending on who you ask, are one of two African countries with thriving Catholic communities.
Although that growth in Africa has been the most dramatic over the past few decades, the numbers in Asia are fast outpacing any of the other regions.
In 2010 alone, there were 40 million new Catholics in the Asian continent, twice as much as in the number of new Catholics in Africa that year.
But the growth in Asia and Africa is not just limited to population. The 2012 Yearkbook figures show the number of priests and consecrated persons from those two areas dwarf all others.
To help serve the pastoral needs of the Church in those fast growing areas, Asia added 1695 priests in 2010 compared to the previous year, while Africa added 761.
By comparison, the Americas only added 40, while Europe was down 905.
When it comes to consecrated persons, Asia and Africa once again show the greatest increase compared to the year before.
While all other areas showed negative or anemic growth.
The clout of these two areas has even been reflected in the College of Cardinals. During Benedict XVI's last consistory in November 2012
, he created two cardinals from the Americas, one from Africa and three from Asia.