Catholicism by the numbers:
The percentage of Catholics in the world has remained steady, while the number of priests has decreased for the first time in almost a decade, according to Vatican statistics.
Meanwhile, the numbers of bishops, permanent deacons, lay missionaries and catechists have all increased, it said.
At the end of 2017, the worldwide Catholic population exceeded 1.3 billion, which continued to be about 17.7 percent of the world’s population, said a statement published March 6 by the Vatican press office.
The statement reported a handful of the statistics in the Statistical Yearbook of the Church, which reported worldwide church figures as of Dec. 31, 2017. The press office also announced the publication of the 2019 “Annuario Pontificio,” a volume containing information about every Vatican office, as well as every diocese and religious order in the world.According to the statistical yearbook, the number of Catholics increased in every continent. But while that growth in Africa and the Americas kept pace with their respective region’s population growth, Asia showed a 1.5 percent increase in the number of Catholics while the region’s population grew less than 1 percent.
As for clergy:
For the first time in since 2010, the Vatican statement said, the total number of priests — diocesan and religious order — around the world decreased, going from 414,969 in 2016 to 414,582 in 2017. Ordinations of diocesan priests continued to decline slowly from 6,577 in 2012 to 5,815 in 2017.
The number of candidates for the priesthood — both diocesan seminarians and members of religious orders — showed a continued slight decline worldwide, decreasing from 116,160 at the end of 2016 to 115,328 at the end of 2017.
The number of permanent deacons reported — 46,894 — was up 582 over the previous year. The vast majority — 97.3 percent — of the world’s permanent deacons live in the Americas and in Europe.