Worldwide statistics of the Catholic Church

Source: FSSPX News


On April 29, the Central Office of Statistics of the Church, at the Vatican, published the evolution of Catholics in the world since 1978. The comparative study has been carried out based on the figures of the Annuarium statisticum Ecclesiae of the year 2004, which will be published shortly by the Vatican library.

 The number of Catholics in the world rose from 757 million in 1978 to 1,098 million in 2004, in parallel with the rise in the world population from 4.2 million to 6.4 million. The total percentage of baptized Catholics shows a fall from 18% to 17%, with various developments according to the continents.

Thus in Europe, compared with 40.5% in 1978, the Catholic faithful represent 39.5% of the population in 2004. In contrast, on the African continent the proportion of Catholics has risen from 12% in 1978 to 17% in 2004. There is no variation on the American continent (north and south) where 62% of the population is Catholic. In Oceania they represent 26% in 2004 compared with 25% in 1978. The smallest share goes to Asia where they represent 2.95% of the population compared with 2.53% in 1978.

The figures for the clergy reveal an increase in the number of bishops by 28% (4,784 in 2004, with an average age of 67, while the number of priests registers a “rather disappointing” fall from 420,971 (1978) to 405,891 (2004), due to a 20% decline in Europe: 250,498 (1978) to 199,978 (2004), in spite of a rise of 84.6% in Africa: 16,926 (1978) to 31,259 (2004), a 74% rise in Asia: 27,700 (1978) to 48,222 (2004), and lastly of 1% in America (north and south): 120,271 to 121,634. The numbers of monks and nuns have also fallen by 27% and 22% respectively.

At the same time, the number of permanent deacons has risen considerably: from 5,500 (1978) to 32,000 (2004); notably in Europe and America where almost all (97%) permanent deacons are based.