21-October-2005 -- Catholic World News Brief |

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WORLD CATHOLIC POPULATION GROWING

Oct. 21 (FIDES/CWNews.com) - The world's Catholic population increased by over 15 million in 2003 (the last year for which full statistics are available), accordino to figures compiled by the Fides news service. The number of Catholics grew significantly on every continent but Europe, where it fell by 214,000.

Each year Fides provides a full dossier of statistics on the world's Catholic population and Church-related institutions, to be released for World Mission Sunday-- which is being celebrated this year on October 23.

At the end of 2003 the world's Catholic population was 1.086 billion, of 17.23 percent of the entire world population, Fides reports. The largest gains in Catholic population appeared in Africa and Latin America.

The number of Catholic priests also rose, with the sharpest increases in Africa and Asia. Europe, again, was the only continent that saw a net decline in the number of priests. However the number of seminarians fell slightly, with only Asia seeing a small increase in that category.

The Fides statistics show the Church running over 64,000 kindergarten or day-care facilities, 28,000 primary schools, and 39,000 secondary schools. Taken together these educational institutions serve over 55 million pupils. All of these figures represent increases for 2003.

The Church also administers over 80,000 hospitals, clinics, homes of the aged and disabled, orphanages, counseling centers, and other social facilities.

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