More Diocesan, But Fewer Religious, Priests in Church

New Annuario Pontificio Presented

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VATICAN CITY, FEB. 10, 2002 ( The latest “Annuario Pontificio” reports there are more diocesan priests, fewer religious priests, and about the same number of Catholics worldwide, compared with a year earlier.

According to the 2002 pontifical yearbook, which was presented to John Paul II on Saturday, there are 1.05 billion baptized Catholics in the world, 17.3% of the population.

Of the Catholics, 49.4% are in the Americas, while 26.7% are in Europe. This percentage decreased to 12.4% in Africa, 10.7% in Asia, and 0.8% in Oceania.

In comparing 1999 and 2000, the Church has 189 more priests in absolute terms, thanks to an increase of 789 more diocesan priests. The number of priests in religious orders and congregations fell by 600.

The yearbook indicates a turnaround in the crisis of priestly vocations, reflected in the increase of seminarians (students of philosophy and theology) over the past two decades. Their total number increased by 73.1%, rising from 63,882 in 1978 to 110,583 in 2000.

The most significant growth was recorded in Africa, where the number of seminarians trebled. The increase in Asia and the Americas was 125% and 65%, respectively. Europe saw a 12% increase.

Among to other data:

–4,092,725 consecrated individuals are dedicated full-time to evangelization: 4,541 bishops, 405,178 priests (including 265,781 diocesan), 27,824 permanent deacons, 55,057 professed religious who are not priests, 801,185 professed women religious, 30,687 members of secular institutes, 126,365 lay missionaries, and 2,641,888 catechists.

–over the past year 161 new bishops were appointed.

–the Vatican has diplomatic relations with 174 states.

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