World Catholic population is growing


2019 Mission Sunday statistics made public

By CEP (Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples)


Vatican City, 19 October 2019 — For the tiny Catholic population of most of the EAO countries the global overview of the Catholic Church ‘numbers’ might be of consolation, inspiration or encouragement. If we consider the 0.3% of Catholics among the Thai population or even lower percentage almost invisible in the mainstream population of many of our 23 countries, reading and digesting the annual World Sunday statistics may be a good idea.


World population


The world population is 7.4 billion with an increase of 56 million compared to the year 2016., major increase registered in Africa (+ 33.5 million) and in Asia (+ 12 million), followed by America (+ 8.8 million), Europe (+ 1 million) and Oceania (+ 0.7 million).


Catholics are 17.73% of world population


The Catholics in the world are 1.31 billion with an overall increase of 14.2 million, with an increase in all continents (including Europe with 259.000+). Major increase in America (+6 million), Africa (+ 5.6 million), in Asia (+ 2 million) and Oceania (+ 191.000).


Among the 3017 dioceses or similar ecclesiastical circumscriptions, 1115 are ‘dependent’ on the CEP (Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples) with 511 in Africa, 484 in Asia, 74 in America and 46 in Oceania. Among them are 791 dioceses, 77 Apostolic Vicariates (7 entrusted to the SDB), 38 Apostolic prefectures (2 entrusted to the SDB) and 8 Missio sui iuris.


Pastoral personnel in the world

  • Bishops – numbers are increased to 5389, while 1273 of them are religious (+36 from 2016)
  • Priests – numbers are decreased to 414.582, while 132.772 are religious (-387 from 2016)
  • Permanent deacons are increased to 46.894 (584 more than in 2016)
  • Women religious (sisters) decreased by 10.535 during one year to 648.910 religious sisters.
  • Male religious (brothers) decreased by 1090 during one year to 51.535 religious brothers.
  • Male secular institute members decreased by 33 to 585 members (including our CDB)
  • Female secular institute members decreased of 343 to 22.057 members (including our VDB)
  • Lay missionaries in the world are increasing – total of 355.8000 (increase by 1057)
  • Catechists in the world are also growing in numbers – total of 3.12 million (increase by 34.032)
  • Major seminarians are less of 832, total: 115.328 (44.622 – religious candidates to priesthood)
  • Minor seminarians are less of 835, total: 100.781 (22.445 religious candidates).

Catholic institutions of education, social and health services worldwide

  • 71.305 Kindergartens with 7.3 million children
  • 101.527 Primary schools with 34.6 million students
  • 48.560 Secondary schools with 20.3 million students
  • 2.9 million of students in tertiary level Catholic colleges or universities
  • 5269 Hospitals, 16.068 medical dispensaries and 646 Leprosy centres
  • 15.735 Homes for elderly, chronically ill or disabled people
  • 9.813 Orphanages
  • 10.492 Nursery schools
  • 13.065 Marriage counselling centers
  • 31.182 Other Catholic social welfare institutions

Reading these simple statistics we realize that the Catholic church is becoming truly an Universal Church, with always more striking growth in the African continent: soon there will be more Catholics in Africa than in the whole of Europe!


Reading these simple statistics we can feel that we are more alive as members of the large family, of the global Body of Christ, his Church!


Reading these simple statistics we also see our humble contribution as Salesian Family to the world mission in a better light!


We believe that each single disciple of Jesus does matter and is called to witness and share own faith!

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