The number of Catholics in the world and the number of priests, permanent deacons and religious men all increased in 2012, while the number of women in religious orders continued to decline, reports CNS in The Catholic Herald.
According to Vatican statistics, the number of candidates for the priesthood also showed its first global downturn in recent years. The statistics come from a recently published Statistical Yearbook of the Church, which reported worldwide Church figures as of December 31, 2012.
By the end of 2012, the worldwide Catholic population had reached 1.228 billion, an increase of 14 million or 1.14 per cent, slightly outpacing the global population growth rate, which, as of 2013, was estimated at 1.09 per cent.
Catholics as a percentage of the global population remained essentially unchanged from the previous year at around 17.5 per cent.
The latest Vatican statistical yearbook estimated that there were about 4.8 million Catholics that were not included in its survey because they were in countries that could not provide an accurate report to the Vatican, mainly China and North Korea.
It said the number of bishops of the world stayed essentially the same at 5,133.
The total number of priests – diocesan and religious – around the world grew from 413,418 to 414,313, with a modest increase in Africa, a larger rise in Asia, and slight decreases in the Americas, Europe and Oceania.
FULL STORY Church growth remains steady worldwide (The Catholic Herald)