Counting Catholics

Pope receives first copy of 2011 yearbook, which reveals that, worldwide, the Roman Church population has increased by 15 million.

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VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The number of Catholics in the world, the number of deacons, priests and bishops and the number of dioceses all increased in 2009, while the number of women in religious orders continued to decline, according to Vatican statistics.

At the end of 2009, the worldwide Catholic population increased by 15 million or 1.3%, slightly outpacing the global population growth rate, which was estimated at 1.1%, said a statement published Feb. 19 by the Vatican Press Office.

The statement reported a handful of the statistics contained in the 2011 Annuario Pontificio, a yearbook containing information about every Vatican office, every cardinal and bishop, every diocese and religious order in the world.

Officials of the Vatican Secretariat of State and its Central Office of Church Statistics presented the first copy of the 2011 yearbook to Pope Benedict XVI during an audience Feb. 19.

The Vatican statement said that in the calendar year 2010, Pope Benedict established 10 new dioceses, bringing to 2,956 the number of dioceses and Church jurisdictions in the world.

The more detailed statistics in the yearbook refer to the situation reported by dioceses and religious orders as of Dec. 31, 2009.

The number of Catholics reported was about 1.18 billion, the Vatican said, which was up 15 million from the 1.16 billion reported a year earlier.

While only 13.6% of the world’s people live in the Americas, 49.4% of all Catholics live there, the Vatican said.

The Vatican said the number of bishops in the world increased to 5,065 from 5,002; the number of priests went from 405,178 to 410,593, increasing everywhere except Europe.

The number of permanent deacons reported — 38,155 — was an increase of more than 1,000 over the previous year; 98% of the world’s permanent deacons live in the Americas or in Europe, it said.

The number of women in religious orders fell by almost 10,000 in 2009, despite increases in their numbers in Asia and Africa, the Vatican said. At the end of the year, Catholic women’s orders had 729,371 members.