Posted21 October 2021, 13:31
According to statistics published Thursday by the Vatican, Catholics are constantly decreasing on the Old Continent. In contrast, they have increased in the rest of the world.
The Catholic Church continues to lose faithful in Europe, as its expansion progresses to all other continents, according to statistics released Thursday by the Vatican.
As of December 31, 2019, the number of Catholics was 1,344,403,000, or 15.41 million more than the previous year, according to figures compiled by the agency Fides, the missionary information body Catholics. Ten years earlier, in 2009, Fides had counted 1.18 billion Catholics.
Europe recorded a decline of 292,000 to reach a total of 285.6 million, while Africa recorded the largest increase (+8.3 million to 251.5 million), followed by the Americas (+5.4 million for 647.2 million), Asia (+1.9 million for 149.1 million) and Oceania (+ 118,000 for 10.9 million). In total, still according to Fides, Catholics represent 17.74% of the world population.
Decrease in the number of priests
The number of priests stands at 414,336 (+271 compared to 2018), but here again it is Europe which stands out with the largest decrease (-2,608 for a total of 168,328), followed the Americas (-690 for 121’693) and Oceania (-69 for 4600). On the other hand, the number of priests is increasing in Africa (+1649 to 49’461) and in Asia (+1989 to 70’254).
Ten years ago, in 2009, Fides had already made the same observation concerning Europe, which had recorded a drop in the number of priests (-1674). A sign that the vocations crisis is a fundamental trend, the number of seminarians rose to 114,058, a decrease from 1,822. Only Africa recorded an increase (+509).
The Catholic Church has been shaken in recent years by numerous scandals of sexual assault on minors by religious. Most recently, the publication in early October of a damning report on child crime within the Church of France led Pope Francis to express his “shame”.
These data, taken from the last “Statistical Yearbook of the Church”, provide a general panorama of the Catholic Church in the world ahead of the 95th World Missionary Day which will be held on Sunday.