Annuario Pontificio 2007

Author: LOR

Annuario Pontificio 2007

L'Osservatore Romano

Papal Yearbook shows increase in number of Catholics worldwide

The Annuario Pontificio [Papal Yearbook] for 2007 was presented to the Holy Father on Monday morning, 12 February, by Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Secretary of State, and Archbishop Leonardo Sandri, Substitute of the Secretariat of State for General Affairs. The new Annuario was edited by Mons. Vittorio Formenti, head of the Central Office of Church Statistics, with his team.

Fr. Elio Torrigiani, S.D.B., Mr. Antonio Maggiotto and Mr. Giuseppe Canesso, respectively General Manager, Commercial Director and Technical Director of the Vatican Press, were in charge of the complex task of printing the book. It will be on sale shortly in bookshops.

The Holy Father thanked them for their tribute and expressed interest in the data provided. He asked that his gratitude be conveyed to all who collaborated on the new edition of the Annuario.

In 2006, the Holy Father established 12 new Episcopal Sees; nine Metropolitan Sees were created and one Apostolic Administration. One hundred and eighty new Bishops were also appointed during that year.

The statistical data for the year 2005 makes it possible to sum up the most important aspects of the Catholic Church's presence and pastoral activity in the 2,915 Ecclesiastical Circumscriptions across the world.

From 2004 to 2005, the number of Catholics in the world increased from a little over 1.098 billion to about 1.115 billion, with an increase of 1.5 percent.

Since this relative increase is quite close to that of the world population (1.2 percent), the number of Catholics in the world remained more or less the same (17.2 percent).

A geographical analysis of the variations in the past two years shows an increase of 3.1 percent in the number of Catholics in Africa, while the African population increased by just under 2.5 percent.

On the Continents of Asia and America, the recorded increase in the number of Catholics exceeds the demographic growth (2.71 percent in comparison with 1.18 percent for Asia, and 1.2 percent in comparison with 0.9 percent for America).

In Europe, there has been a slight upward trend in the number of Catholics and virtually no demographic changes.

In the two-year period, 2004-05, the number of priests, both diocesan and Religious, has risen from 405,891 to 406,411 with a relative increase of 0.13 percent. While Asia and Africa showed substantial increases — respectively, +3.80 percent and +3.55 percent —, the numbers in Europe and in America have fallen by about half a percent, and in Oceania by 1.8 percent.

The percentages of priests per continent show minor changes in the two-year period under examination. In 2004, Africa and Asia accounted for 19.58 percent of the world total, and in 2005 this figure had increased to 20.28 percent. In this period, America maintained a proportion of about 29.8 percent, whereas Oceania remained relatively stable with a number of slightly more than 1 percent.

The only Continent where the number of priests has dwindled is Europe: in 2004 the 199,978 European priests accounted for almost 49.3 percent of the total of the ecclesiastical group, whereas a year later their number had fallen to 48.8 percent.

The number of seminarians studying philosophy or theology in diocesan or religious seminaries rose from 113,044 in 2004 to 114,439 in 2005. In the two-year period overall the rate of increase was 1.23 percent. This variation was positive in Africa (3.46 percent), Asia (2.90 percent) and America (0.6 percent), whereas in Europe a decrease of 1.9 percent was recorded. The number of seminarians in Oceania was stable at around 950.

In 2005, out of 100 candidates to the priesthood throughout the world, 32 were American, 26 Asian, 21 African, 20 European and one was from Oceania.

Taken from:
L'Osservatore Romano
Weekly Edition in English
28 February 2007, page 2

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