VATICAN CITY — The number of Catholics has increased at a faster rate than the rest of the population, newly released statistics by the Vatican reveal.
Over the course of nine years, the number of Catholics worldwide has increased by 17.8%, compared to the global population, which increased by 17.3%.
From 2005 to 2014, the number of Catholics grew from 1.12 billion to 1.27 billion.
These and other statistics, released by the Vatican on Saturday, are contained within the 2016 Pontifical Yearbook and the 2014 Annuarium Statisticum Ecclesiae.
These volumes, compiled by the Central Office of Church Statistics and edited by Vatican Typography, are set to be released in bookshops within days.
The books also show changes in the Church’s life over the course of 2015, according to the March 5 statement.
The greatest increase in Catholics was seen in the African continent, at 41%, amid an overall population growth of 23.8%. This was followed by Asia, with a 20% Catholic increase vs. the 9.6% population increase, then America, which saw an 11.7% increase in Catholics compared to 9.6% of the population.
In Europe, the number of Catholics increased only by 2% compared to the overall population. Oceana, in contrast, saw an increase of Catholics that was just slightly lower than the overall population growth.
The statement also notes a global increase in the number of bishops from 2005 to 2014, although America and Oceana saw a slightly lower increase than the world average.
There was also a worldwide increase in the number of diocesan and religious priests, mostly in Africa and Asia, although there was a decline in new priests in Europe and Oceana.
While the number of permanent deacons increased in the African continent, the rest of the world saw a decline. Likewise, female religious saw a decline, but increased in Africa and Asia.
Seminarians for the priesthood increased from 114,439 in 2005 to 116,939 in 2014, peaking in 2011 at 120,616. The number of seminarians was consistently highest in Africa, Asia and Oceana, while Europe and America saw a decline.