Thanks to the Deacon’s Bench for finding the article that follows. I’ve taken parts of the article for pasting below; you may wish to read the whole thing here.
All in all, the article offers good news in terms of our numbers. We are not numbers in God’s eyes, nor are we numbers in the eyes of the Holy Church. But numbers help us to get a general idea of where things stand.
We’ll need to do something about the decline in nuns, but I have a hunch the Holy Spirit is working on that, too.
You know, it’s an incredible thing to see these numbers. They remind us of the corporate nature of our faith. And they remind us that the powers of Hell will not prevail. Even as parts of our world become more and more secular, the Church grows, and even while one part suffers (e.g., Ireland), another prospers and grows. All things in turn.
Each of the 1,196,000,000 Catholics in the world’s 2,966 dioceses has been called by the Lord in some way and has been baptized in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. And God has designs for each. Each has a unique story. Each is planned. Each is a gift. Each is loved.
And each of us is one of them.
It is a good thing to be Catholic.
In 2010 there were just under 1.196 billion Catholics, compared to about 1.181 billion in 2009, for a total increase of 15 million faithful at 1.3%. The territorial impact of Catholics suffered noticeable variations between 2009 and 2010: they have reduced their importance in South America (from 28.54 to 28.34 per cent) and especially in Europe (from 24.05 to 23.83 per cent). They reclaimed position in Africa (from 15.15 to 15.55 per cent) and South East Asia (from 10.41 to 10.87 per cent).
The growth trend in the number of priests, which began in 2000, continued in 2010, for a total of 412,236 priests, 277,009 of which are diocesan clergy and 135,227 religious clergy, but in 2009 there were 410,593 priests divided into 275,542 diocesan and 135,051 religious. Overall, the number of priests have increased from 2009 to 2010 by a total of 1,643 units. The increases are recorded in Asia (+1,695 priests), in Africa (+761), Oceania (with +52) and America (with +40 units), while the decline has affected Europe (with -905 priests).
The decline that has affected the category of religious seems to have halted somewhat in 2010. In 2009 they counted 54,229 and the number reached 54,665 in 2010. In sharp decline in South America (3.5%) and in North America (0.9%), stationary in Europe, vocations to religious life has increased in Asia (+4.1%), which increase its share of the world total, and Africa (+3.1%).
Even the number of professed women religious is undergoing a profound transformation characterized by a strongly decreasing dynamic. Globally, the number dropped from 729,371 in 2009 to 721,935 in 2010. The decline has focused on three continents (Europe, America and Oceania), with significant negative changes (-2.9% in Europe, in Oceania -2.6% and -1.6% in America). In Africa and Asia, however, the increase was very significant, at around 2% for both continents.
The number of students of philosophy and theology in diocesan and religious seminaries has steadily increased over the last five years. On the whole, it is up 4%, from 114,439 units in 2005 to 118,990 in 2010. The number of students in the major seminaries is down in Europe (-10.4%) and America (-1.1%), up in Africa (+14.2%), Asia (+13.0%) and Oceania (+ 12.3%).