Here we grow again: more Catholics, priests, deacons, seminarians worldwide

Some good news:

The Catholic Church appears to be in good health, with a global increase in the number of faithful, bishops, priests – especially in Asia – deacons and seminarians. The decline of men religious seems to have halted however that of women religious continues, even if contradicted by their growth in Africa and Asia. These are the figures that emerge from the Pontifical Yearbook 2012, which was presented this morning to Benedict XVI, along with the Annuarium Statisticum Ecclesiae annual Church statistics.

The Yearbook has revealed some important novelties regarding the Catholic Church in the world, since 2011. During the year 8 new episcopal sees were built, 1 Personal Ordinariate and 1 Military Ordinariate; 1 archdioceses and 8 dioceses in metropolitan locations were erected; 1 prelature, 1 apostolic vicariate and 1 apostolic prefecture were elevated to diocese and 1 mission “su iuris” to apostolic prefecture.

The statistical data for the year 2010, provides a summary analysis of key trends in the Catholic Church in the planet’s 2,966 dioceses.

In 2010 there were just under 1.196 billion Catholics, compared to about 1.181 billion in 2009, for a total increase of 15 million faithful at 1.3%. The territorial impact of Catholics suffered noticeable variations between 2009 and 2010: they have reduced their importance in South America (from 28.54 to 28.34 per cent) and especially in Europe (from 24.05 to 23.83 per cent). They reclaimed position in Africa (from 15.15 to 15.55 per cent) and South East Asia (from 10.41 to 10.87 per cent).

From 2009 to 2010, the number of bishops in the world increased from 5,065 to 5,104 with a relative increase of 0.77%. The increase was in Africa (+16 new bishops), America (+15) and Asia (+12), while a slight decrease occurred in Europe (from 1,607 to 1,606) and Oceania ( 132 to 129).

The growth trend in the number of priests, which began in 2000, continued in 2010, for a total of 412,236 priests, 277,009 of which are diocesan clergy and 135,227 religious clergy, but in 2009 there were 410,593 priests divided into 275,542 diocesan and 135,051 religious. Overall, the number of priests have increased from 2009 to 2010 by a total of 1,643 units. The increases are recorded in Asia (+1,695 priests), in Africa (+761), Oceania (with +52) and America (with +40 units), while the decline has affected Europe (with -905 priests).

The number of permanent deacons, both diocesan and religious, continues to show a trend of high growth in 2010. In fact, this year saw an increase of 3.7%, compared to 2009, rising from 38,155 to 39,564. Permanent deacons are present mainly in North America and Europe with a respective share of the global total of 64.3% and 33.2%,.

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  1. deacon john m. bresnahan says:

    It is good to keep these positive statistics in mind. For so many who want to radically change the Church in unorthodox directions argue that the Church must change or die. Yeh–change like the Episcopal Church changed and then watch those positive Catholic growth statistics march in the opposite direction.

  2. I love reading news like this. It doesn’t surprise me, really. It’s such a positive, joyful way of life. Of course it attracts new members when they are fortunate enough to get faith formation. The empty and demonic secular main stream media is like the wizard of oz. Someday someone will pull back the curtain.

  3. Let me connect the thoughts: reporting like this would never be found on MSNBC. I know how off the wall I sound. I need to change my moniker to “Joanc Off the wall”.

  4. I love reading stories like this too, and it doesn’t surprise me either. And I’m with Deacon John above. The more a religion accomodates contemporary trends, the more it goes down hill. That should tell the Liberals something.

  5. It seems to me the growth in the priesthood is coming from traditional-leaning seminaries, such as FSSP, who are getting more seminarians than they can handle, while the typical diocisian center-left seminaries are empty and dying (at least in the US).

    Ironic story: In Detroit there is a major priest shortage that is causing the archdiocese to close and merge many parishes. Yet the archbishop will not accept priests from the FSSP or other thriving growing seminaries from other states… he only wants priests from Detroit’s own major seminary, a typical center left seminary that is empty and dying. So that Archbisop would rather close down parishes than be humble enough to accept the offer of the FSSP to send priests to Michigan.

  6. A few thoughts.
    In these troubled times it certainly is good whenever there is good news to be had. However it is still important to understand how really dire the problem is in Europe, when had a net loss of about -500,000 Catholics in one year. I once responded to a Dominican professor who was trying to encourage us with report on an increase in vocations in many dioceses in the United States, with some experiencing an increase of 50%, that going from 2 vocations one year to 3 the next, at a time of an ever increasing priest shortage, when many priests are now working 3 parishes when it used to be often 2-3 priests to one parish, and when over 60% of the 40,000 or so active priests in the U.S. are coming up on retirement, is hardly encouraging. As bad as it is now, it is almost impossible to imagine what it will be like in the U.S. in ten years if the number of active priests is more than halved.
    Perhaps the move by Bishop Knestout to remove priests who deny publicly self-announced sexually active lesbian buddhists the Blessed Sacrament is some very clever new vocations drive program that is beyond my understanding.

  7. Is there any definitive study regarding the increase in numbers of the Permanent Diaconate? My quick internet search revealed nothing. Comparing the USCCB “Portrait if the Permanent Diaconate…” of 2010 and 2012, I only see an increase of 196 permanent deacons. Does that sound correct? That number appears low to me, but at least it is an increase.
    Thank you for a great blog!

  8. Deacon Norb says:

    M. Please remember that there is a significant difference between the formation of priests versus the formation of deacons. I’ll use my diocese as an example.

    –We do not have our own diocesan seminary for priestly formation so we will use any one of about five or so across our region. Seminarians from here will join seminarians from several other dioceses to form a specific class.

    The formation of priests at these seminaries TYPICALLY allows for rolling admissions with new formation groups forming every Fall and a fresh group of newly ordained priests every Spring. Thus our diocese might have seminarians in five-six different classes in progress at any given time and graduate/ordain a portion of them every year.

    Our bishop just announced we have 28 seminarians in various years of formation and five of them are transitory deacons in their last year and due for priestly ordination in May.

    –The process for married men moving into formation classes for the permanently ordained diaconate IN CONTRAST is typically in cohort groups. At this moment, we have one cohort in their final year. It has 18 men in it. They are scheduled to be ordained in September 2013.

    In the background we are screening a pool of about 35 applicants to start the next cohort during that same month.

    SO in contrast with 2-5 new priests every year, we had 12 deacons ordained in 2009; expect 18 this year and maybe over 26 for Fall 2017.

    Hate to say it, but unless you compare statistics over a twenty or so year period of time, you are really comparing apples with oranges.

  9. Fiergenholt says:

    Statistics in my diocese are hard to come by and they usually are not all that current BUT in a twelve-year period (2000 – 2011) we had 25 celibate men ordained to the priesthood and 46 married men ordained to the permanent diaconate.

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