Church of Oceania in the Numbers

VATICAN CITY, NOV. 22, 2001 ( The Catholics of Oceania are a scattered flock.

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According to the latest Statistical Yearbook of the Catholic Church, baptized Catholics in this continent of scattered islands number just over 8 million, or 27% of the population.

The majority — more than 5 million — live in Australia. The next largest group of Catholics, 1.4 million, are in Papua New Guinea.

New Zealand has 500,000 Catholics; Guam, 123,000; New Caledonia, 110,000; French Polynesia, 89,000; and the Fiji Islands, 84,000.

Oceania continues to be a land of missionaries, especially from Europe. Of the 116 bishops in the continent, 40 are foreigners.

The number of priests is decreasing. In 1993 there were 2,773 diocesan priests; now there are 2,681. Religious priests number 2,246, down from 2,421 in 1993.

There are 11,627 nuns, down from 12,708 in 1993.

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