For the 92nd World Mission Day on October 21, 2018, Agenzia Fides published numbers that outline the statistics of the Church throughout the world.
During the year 2016, the number of Catholics in the world increased by 14.2 million, despite an important decrease in Europe. Of the 7.4 billion people in the world, 1.3 billion are Catholic, which means a little under one in five people.
Compared with the increase in the world’s population, this number remains stable with regards to previous surveys (-0.05%).
Only Europe has experienced an important drop in the number of Catholics: this continent lost 240,000 baptized persons in one year, even though its population increased by 1.3 million.
The number of priests in the world dropped slightly, down to 414,969.
Europe is once again the continent on which this decrease was the strongest, with 2,583 fewer priests. America also lost 589 priests this year. The number of priests increased in Africa (+1,181) and Asia (+1,304), and in Oceania it remained stable.
Overall, the number of seminarians has dropped. There are 116,160 young men currently preparing for the priesthood – 71,117 diocesan and 45,043 religious seminarians. The strongest increase in these numbers was in Africa and Asia, whereas as they decreased in America, Europe and Oceania.
A few other interesting facts: the number of permanent deacons has increased on all the continents, and the number of catechists has decreased.
The slow decline of the priesthood is the most striking revelation of this statistical outline of the Church.
Archbishop Lefebvre was a visionary; he understood the crisis of the priesthood despite the apparent post-conciliar euphoria. That is why he undertook the foundation of his great work of formation, the Society of St. Pius X, whose goal is “the priesthood and everything related and only that which is related, that is, as Our Lord Jesus Christ willed it when He said, ‘Do this in commemoration of Me’.” (Statutes)