Pope Benedict XVI was presented this morning with the Church’s annual yearbook - the 2009 Pontifical Yearbook - by the Vatican’s Central Office for Statistics. The yearbook features statistics on the global Roman Catholic Church.

Among 2009’s promising statistics, it appears that the numbers of Catholic priests worldwide is rising slowly. The yearbook shows an increase of several hundred priests per year since 2000, thanks primarily to large increases in Africa and Asia. In Africa and Asia, the number of Catholic priests rose 27.6% and 21%. The number of Catholic priests in Africa and Asia rose from 405,178 in 2000 to 408,024 in 2007, the report said.

Meanwhile, another annual yearbook - the National Council of Churches annual yearbook says that the Catholic Church remains the largest body of believers in the U.S., with 67 million members. But from 2006 to 2007. Yet, the book says that the Church lost 398,000 members in the U.S. — a 0.59 percent drop.

Overall, the global Catholic population is holding steady at around 1.147 billion.