How many Catholics are there in the world?

The last Statistical Yearbook of the Church puts the number of faithful Catholics at 1,313,278,000, an increase of 14,219,000 for another year.

How many Catholics are there in the world?
The Pontifical agency Fides has offered a report with the data of Catholics in the world as of December 31, 2017, according to the latest "Statistical Yearbook of the Church". Image: Pixabay

The last Statistical Yearbook of the Church puts the number of faithful Catholics at 1,313,278,000, an increase of 14,219,000 for another year. The number of bishops, permanent deacons, lay missionaries, and catechists is increasing, and the crisis of vocations is especially evident in Europe and begins in America. The Church not only makes the accounts of what is collected in the collections or the money boxes but also makes a balance of the data that the mission territories and the rest of the dioceses of the world show.

Number of Catholics

In the dossier prepared by the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, it is recalled that the world population was 7,408,374,000, an increase of 56,085,000 over the previous year, growing above all in Africa and Asia. With this background data, there are 1,313,278,000 Catholics, a total increase of 14,219,000. According to the Fides comparison, the increase is 0.06%, recovering the decrease of the previous 3 years. The growth also reaches Europe, which is the opposite of what happened in the past. The worldwide percentage of Catholics is 17.73%, increasing in America and Asia.

Number of Priests

There has also been an increase in the number of inhabitants per priest. This particular 'rate' is at 132, reaching the quota of 14,468. The proportion is rising on all continents except Asia. Seen from the other side, the number of Catholics per priest has increased from 38 units to 3,168. As far as mission territories are concerned, there are 3,017 new circumscriptions, one more than last year, created in Asia. There are 2,659 mission stations with a resident priest and 137,791 without a resident priest. These figures represent a decrease in measures that are part of local churches with more autonomy.

Number of Bishops

In absolute number, there are 5,389 bishops, 36 more than a year ago. Both the number of diocesan bishops - 4,116 (26 more) - and the number of religious - 1,273 (10 more) - are increasing. America is the continent where these prelates increase the most. The total number of priests is 414,582, which means a decrease of 387. Diocesans are 281,810 -21 fewer - and religious 132,772 -366 fewer. The number of permanent deacons has increased by 582 units, a considerable number. There are a total of 46,894 ministers.

Number of Religious and Seminarians

The number of non-priest religious has decreased for the fifth consecutive year, this time with 1,090 fewer brothers, standing at 51,535. The total number of religious is 648,910, decreasing by 10,535 units, mainly in America and Europe. The number of members of Secular Institutes for men is 585 -33 less - and for women 22,057 consecrated -343 less.

On the other hand, the number of lay missionaries is growing, reaching 355,800, increasing 1,057 units thanks especially to Europe. The number of catechists has increased to 3,120,321, even though it had decreased the previous year. The number of major seminarians is 115,328, 832 less than 12 months ago. They decrease in America (853), Asia (385), and Europe (401). The number of minor seminarians fell again for the second time, reaching 100,781, 835 less.