HomeNewsCatholic Church sees global growth in faithful, faces decline in vocation

Catholic Church sees global growth in faithful, faces decline in vocation

A mixed picture of the global Catholic Church emerged in the Vatican’s latest publications highlighting increases in the Catholic population alongside declines in vocations.

The 2024 Pontifical Yearbook and the 2022 Statistical Yearbook of the Church, now available in bookstores, offer a comprehensive view of the Catholic Church’s life and trends from December 1, 2022, to December 31, 2023.

The yearbook reports significant administrative changes within the Church’s hierarchy, including the establishment of new Episcopal Sees and Apostolic Administrations, as well as elevations of existing sees. These structural adjustments reflect the Church’s ongoing adaptation to its global presence.

Globally, the number of baptized Catholics rose to 1.390 billion in 2022, marking a 1.0% increase from the previous year. Growth rates varied across continents, with Africa experiencing a notable 3% increase. The Americas and Asia also saw growth, aligning with demographic trends, while Europe and Oceania remained stable.

The bishop count slightly increased, with notable growth in Africa and Asia, contrasting with a slight decrease in Europe and stability in the Americas and Oceania.

Conversely, the global priesthood saw a marginal decline, continuing a trend observed since 2012. This decrease contrasts with significant increases in permanent deacons, indicating a shift in the makeup of Church leadership and service roles. 

Deacons saw growth across all continents, particularly in the Americas and Europe, where they constitute the majority.

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The report also indicates a contraction in the number of non-priest professed religious men and a sharp decline in professed religious women, with variations across different regions. 

Africa and Southeast Asia saw increases in religious women, while other areas experienced significant decreases.

The trend of decreasing seminarian numbers persists, signaling ongoing challenges in priestly vocations. While Africa saw an increase, other regions, notably the Americas and Europe, faced declines, reflecting diverse local dynamics within the global Church.

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