New dynamics in the Catholic Church
On Saturday, 19 February, the 2011 Annuario Pontificio [Papal Yearbook] was presented to Benedict XVI by Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, SDB, Secretary of State, and by Archbishop Fernando Filoni, Substitute of the Section for General Affairs of the Secretariat of State.
The new Yearbook was edited by Mons. Vittorio Formenti, Head of the Central Office of Church Statistics and by Prof. Enrico Nenna and by other collaborators.
The complex process of printing the text was supervised by Fr Pietro Migliasso, SDB, by Mr Antonio Maggiotto, SDB, and by Mr Giuseppe Canesso, SDB, respectively General Director, Commercial Director and Technical Director of the Vatican Press. The book will shortly be on sale in bookshops.
The Holy Father thanked them for their tribute, and showed keen interest in the information the Yearbook provides. He also asked them to convey his warm gratitude to all those who worked to produce the new edition of the Yearbook.
The book publishes certain changes that concern the life of the Catholic Church in the world from 2010. In this year the Pope established to new Dioceses, one Apostolic Exharchate and one Vicariate Apostolic; he raised one diocese to the rank of Metropolitan See, two Prelatures to the rank of Diocese, and two Prefectures and one Apostolic Administration to the rank of Vicariates Apostolic.
The statistical data which refer to the year 2009 provide a concise analysis of the main dynamics regarding the Catholic Church in the world's 2,956 ecclesiastical circumscriptions
Baptized faithful increased from 1,166 million in 2008 to 1,181 in 2009, with a clear increase of 15 million faithful: equivalent to 1.3 percent.
The distribution of Catholics on the continents differs considerably from that of the population. America, with regard to its population, from 2008 to 2009 maintained a stable incidence out of the total on earth equivalent to 13.6 percent. In these two years, however, the percentage of Catholics rose to 49.4 percent of the world's Catholic population.
In Asia the growth was from 10.6 to 10.7 percent, but it is considerably lower than that which the continent has with regard to the world population (60.7 percent).
The percentage of the European population is three percentage points less than that of America, but its incidence in the Catholic world is almost half that of the American countries (24 percent). For the countries of Africa and Oceania the percentage of the population out of the total is similiar to that of Catholics, (15.2 and 0.8 percent respectively.
The number of bishops in the world increased from 5.002 to 5.065. from 2008 to 2009, with a 1.3 percent increase. Africa is the most dynamic continent (1.8 percent) followed by Oceania (1.5 percent) while Asia (0.8 percent) and America (1.2 percent) are below the overall average. The increase in Europe is of 1.3 percent.
The number of priests continued to grow steadily in 2000, after a long period of disappointing results. The number of diocesan and religious priests in the past ten years increased from 405.178 in 2000 to 410.593 in 2009 (or 1.36 percent world wide).
In particular, in 2009, priests increased by 0.34 percent in comparison with 2008. This figure represents a decrease 0.08 percent of religious clergy, and the increase of 0.56 percent of the diocesan clergy. The percentage decrease concerned Europe alone (0.82 percent for diocesan priests and 0.99 percent for religious), given that they have increased overall on the other continents. There has been a decline instead in the number of religious clergy everywhere except Asia and Africa.
Permanent deacons have increased by more than 2.5 percent, from 37.203 in 2008 to 38.155 in 2009. The number of deacons in Oceania and in Asia is rapidly increasing. In Oceania, where deacons do not yet account for one percent of the total, they increased by more than 19 percent, to a total of 346 in 2009. And in Asia they are registering an increase of 16 percent.
Deacons are also increasing in the areas where they are more numerous. In America and in Europe, where about 98 percent of the total population lived in 2009, deacons have increased in the past two years, respectively from 2.3 to 2.6 percent.
There has been a downward trend instead among professed women religious. In 2008 there were 739,068 in the world, and in 2009 their number had fallen to 729,371. The crisis is still felt despite increases in Africa and Asia.
The number of candidates to the priesthood in the world has grown by 0.82 percent, from 117,024 in 2008 to 117, 978 in 2009. Most of the increase may be attributed to Asia and Africa, with growth rates of 2.39 and 2.20 percent respectively. Europe and America have registered a decrease of respectively 1.64 percent and 0.17 percent in the same period.