Catholics Grew by 16 Million, New Yearbook Says

Annuario Pontificio 2001 Presented at Vatican

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VATICAN CITY, APR. 9, 2001 (Zenit.org).- From 1998 to 1999 Catholics worldwide increased by 16 million, according to data made public today at the presentation of the Annuario Pontificio 2001.



For the first time, the pontifical yearbook can be purchased on Internet.

The volume, which was given to John Paul II during a ceremony, has been enlarged and offers Church statistics up to Jan. 1, 2000.

Among the data:

--Catholics in the world increased from 1.022 billion in 1998 to 1.038 billion in 1999, an increase of 1.6%. World population grew by 1.4% during the same time.

--Catholics´ share of the world population remains essentially unchanged at 17.4%.

--The American continent has about half the world´s Catholics, while Europe has 27.3%. Africa has 12%; Asia, 10.4%; and Oceania, 0.8%.

--There are 3.86 million people dedicated to the apostolate, including 2.44 million catechists. There are 4,482 bishops, 405,009 priests (of whom 265,012 are diocesan), 26,629 permanent deacons, 55,428 religious who are not priests, 809,351 professed nuns, 31,049 members of secular institutes, and 80,662 lay missionaries.

--The total number of priests increased by 383 in 1999. There are 810 more diocesan priests, but 427 fewer priests in religious orders.

--Europe has 52% of the world´s priests -- 80% more than America. Asia has 10% of the world´s priests; Africa, 6.6%; and Oceania, 1.2%.

--The number of students of philosophy and theology in diocesan seminaries and those of religious orders has increased by 0.7%, from 109,230 in 1998 to 110,021 in 1999.

--In 1999, 33% of candidates for the priesthood were Americans, 25% European, 23% Asian, 18% African, and 1% Oceanian.

The presentation note of the Annuario Pontificio said that the Vatican last year established diplomatic relations with Bahrain and Djibouti, bringing to 174 the number of states with which it maintains diplomatic relations. An apostolic delegation was established in Botswana.

The yearbook lists the creation of 22 new episcopal sees, 1 apostolic exarchate, 1 military diocese, 2 apostolic vicariates, 2 prefectures, 1 apostolic administration, 2 "sui iuris" missions, and 7 new metropolitan sees.

The volume mentions the creation of 44 new cardinals, as the collection of data closed Feb. 28.

The yearbook can be purchased at
http://www.ixtmedia.com.