February 28, 2011

The number of Catholics in the world, as well as the number of deacons, priests and bishops 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 per cent, slightly outpacing the global population growth rate, which was estimated at 1.1 per cent, 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.

The number of Catholics reported was about 1.18 billion. While only 13.6 per cent of the world's people live in the Americas, 49.4 per cent of all Catholics live there, the Vatican said.

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