Between 2013 and 2018, the number of Catholics rose from 1.254 billion to 1.329 billion, an absolute increase of 75 million baptized people. Thus, according to the latest statistics from the Pontifical Directory, Catholic faithful represent just under 18% of the world’s population, among a worldwide count of some 7.6 billion people.
The highest proportion of Catholics compared to the rest of the population is found in North and South America with 63.7% of the baptized, followed by that of Europe with 39.7% of the Catholics and that of Oceania with 26.3%. Catholics represent 19.4% of the African population and only 3.3% of the population in Asia.
The number of priests, on the other hand, has declined slightly: - 0.3% over the past five years. While this number has increased significantly in Africa and Asia (+ 14.3% and + 11% respectively), in the Americas, it remains stationary around an average of around 123,000. It is the situation in Europe and Oceania which is worrying: these two zones show a decrease of more than 7% and a little more than 1% respectively.
Over the same period, there has also been a drop in the number of seminarians. Candidates for the priesthood increased from 118,251 in 2013 to 115,880 in 2018. With the exception of Africa (+ 15.6%), this decline affects all continents, especially Europe (- 15.6% ) and the Americas (- 9.4%).
The number of religious men is decreasing everywhere in the world, except in Asia (+ 3.6%) and in Africa (+ 6.8%): in five years, they went from 55,000 to 51,000, that is to say a decrease of 8%. Among women, the curve is also decreasing (- 7.5%). Their total number fell from nearly 694,000 religious women in 2013 to less than 642,000 five years later.