February 22, 2011.
The total number of Catholics worldwide
is up 1.3% from last year, bringing the total number to 1.181
billion. These figures were published in the 2011 Pontifical
Yearbook. Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone and Subsitute for
General Affairs Archbishop Fernando Filoni, two of the pope's
principal collaborators, approached the Holy Father with the figures.
The pope found
that nearly half of world's Catholic population, 49.4%, is in the
Americas, compared to 25% in Europe, 10.7% in Asia, 15.2% in Africa,
and 0.8% in Oceania.
The total number of priests has also
increased. In the past ten years, it has risen from 405,178 to
There are also now more bishops in the
world. The number has grown from 5,002 to 5,065 over the past year.
The average age of a bishop is 68 and each bishop has an average of
81 priests in their charge.
The number of men studying for the
priesthood has been steadily increasing in recent years. The number
increased from 117,024 in 2008 to 117,978 in 2009. Africa and Asia
have seen the most dramatic increases, with a 2.39% and 2.2% growth
Women religious are still the largest
group collaborating with the bishops, although their numbers have
been on the decline. Their total number dropped from 739,068 in 2008
to 729,371 in 2009.
During the presentation of the Yearbook, the pope joked with one of
the publishers because it happened to be his birthday.