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Number of Priests on Increase

VATICAN CITY (CNS): The number of seminarians worldwide has grown by 73 per cent under Pope John Paul II’s pontificate, with the greatest increase in Africa and Asia, the Vatican said.

This statistic was one of several released on February 9 when the latest Vatican yearbook or “annuario” was presented to the Pope.

The latest statistics date to 2000 and show that the number of priests in the world increased over the previous year by 189, to more than 405,000. That reflected an overall increase of nearly 800 diocesan priests and a decrease of 600 religious priests.

The Vatican said the number of seminarians had increased from about 64,000 in 1978 to more than 110,500 in 2000, a rise of 73.1 per cent. The greatest increase was in Africa, where the number of seminarians more than tripled, Asia followed with an increase of 125 per cent, the Americas showed an increase of 65 per cent, and Europe’s increase was 12 per cent.

The Vatican said the global Catholic population grew in 2000 to 1.05 billion, equivalent to 17.3 per cent of the world’s population. Almost half the Catholic population – 49.4 per cent – now lives in the Americas, while 26.7 per cent lives in Europe, 12.4 per cent in Africa, 10.7 per cent in Asia and 0.8 per cent in Oceania.

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