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World News

Annual survey finds increase in global Catholic population, but decrease in number of priests and nuns

by Donna Birrell

A new report showing the number of Catholics across the globe has just been released by the Vatican. The Fides agency compiles the figures every year to mark World Mission Day.

The report found that on 31 December 2021 there were 1.375 billion Catholics in the world – an increase of 16.24 million Catholics, compared to the same day in 2020.

The main increases were registered in Africa and the Americas, with an increase in all continents – with the exception of Europe.

There has been a decline in the number of Catholic bishops – now 5,340 across the world – and the number of priests has fallen by 2,347 to around 407,872.

Europe registered the largest drop in the number of priests with 3,632 fewer than the previous year.

The report says that while the number of priests has decreased, the number of Catholics per priest in the world has increased, with an average of 3,373 Catholics for every priest in the world, a rise of 59 people per priest.

The number of nuns has also decreased by around 10,588. The largest drop was recorded in Europe, with 7,804 fewer consecrated women.

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