|Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Secretary of State, presented the latest
edition of the "Annuario Pontificio" to His Holiness on 9
The latest "Annuario Pontificio" reports that there are
more diocesan priests, fewer religious priests and about the same number
of Catholics worldwide, compare with a year earlier.
According to the pontifical directory, there are 1.050 billion
baptized Catholics in the world, 17.3% of the population, distributed as
49.4% of Catholics are in the Americas, while 26.7% are in Europe.
This percentage decreased to 12.4% in Africa, 10.7% in Asia, and 0.8% in
In comparing 1999 and 2000, the Church has 189 more priests in
absolute terms, thanks to an increase of 789 more diocesan priests. The
number of priests in religious orders and congregations fell by 600.
The directory indicates a turnaround in the crisis of priestly
vocations, reflected in the increase of seminarians (students of
philosophy and theology) over the past two decades. Their total number
increased by 73.1%, rising from 63,882 in 1978 to 110,583 in 2000.
The most significant growth was recorded in Africa, where the number
of seminarians more than trebled. The increase in Asia and the Americas
was 125% and 65%, respectively. Europe saw a 12% increase.
Among other data:
— 4,092,725 consecrated individuals are dedicated full-time to
evangelization: 4,541 bishops, 405,178 priests (including 265,781
diocesan), 27,824 permanent deacons, 55,057 professed religious who are
not priests, 801,185 professed women religious, 30,687 members of
secular institutes, 126,365 lay missionaries, and 2,641,888 catechists;
— Over the past year 161 new bishops were appointed;
— The Holy See has diplomatic relations with 174 states. It has
created six new Episcopal Sees, one apostolic Exarchate and two
Prefectures. Two Dioceses were made Archdioceses and Two Prefectures
were made Dioceses.