A Vatican census has revealed growing numbers of Catholics in what Pope Francis often refers to as “the global peripheries,”.
The census released ahead of World Mission Day however shows that the number of believers continues to diminish in Europe.
The data released shows that the number of Catholics in the world grew by more than 15 million from 2018 to 2019.
“The increase applies to all continents, except Europe,” according to a census by the Vatican news agency Fides published on Thursday (Oct. 21).
The latest information saw the number of Catholic faithful decrease by almost 300,000.
,The data was released ahead of the 95 World Mission Day, which will be celebrated on Sunday in dioceses around the globe following the one-year hiatus caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to the census, conducted annually among the Catholic faithful, Catholics represented 17.7% of the global population in 2019.
This shows that Catholicism is gaining followers in Africa, the Americas and Asia, while the church’s numbers waned in Europe. The historic basin of Catholicism that is now increasingly becoming a mission territory.
While the number of Catholic priests has grown overall, Europe has seen a consistent decrease in the clergy, where the number of faithful per priest grew to more than 3,245-to-1. For the seventh year in a row, the number of religious brothers and sisters has declined everywhere, with Africa as the only exception. Religious sisters experienced the sharpest decline, losing 11,562 members.
Seminarians studying to become priests also shrunk globally, especially in minor seminaries for people between 11 and 18 years old. Bishops diminished by 13, now totaling 5,364 globally.
While clergy members experienced a steep fall worldwide, the number of lay missionaries grew significantly, especially in the Americas and Africa, with only a small decrease in Asia. Catechists saw their numbers reduced by 2,590, with the Americas and Europe registering the highest drops.
While clergy members experienced a steep fall worldwide, the number of lay missionaries grew significantly, especially in the Americas and Africa, with only a small decrease in Asia.