.- In just two week’s time, Pope Benedict will be making his first trip as Pope to Africa. With preparations for the March 17-23 trip gearing up, the Church has published statistics on Catholic involvement in Angola and Cameroon.
The Holy Father is visiting Cameroon to participate in the Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops, while his trip to Angola will involve a meeting with civil authorities, the bishops of the region and the faithful.
The newly released information on the Catholic Church in the two countries comes from the Central Statistical Office of the Church and was updated December 31, 2007.
Pope Benedict is due to first land on African soil in Cameroon’s capital city Yaounde. Situated on the western coast of Africa, the Republic of Cameroon, has a population of 18,160,000 of whom 4,842,000 (26.7 percent) are Catholic.
There are 24 ecclesiastical circumscriptions, 816 parishes and 3,630 pastoral centers of other kinds. Currently, there are 31 bishops, 1,847 priests, 2,478 religious, 28 lay members of secular institutes and 18,722 catechists. Minor seminarians number 2,249 and major seminarians 1,361.
Catholic schooling is also prevalent in the country with 410,964 students attending 1,530 institutes of Catholic education, which range from kindergarten to the university level. Other institutions belonging to the Church or run by priests or religious in Cameroon include 28 hospitals, 235 clinics, 11 homes for the elderly or disabled, 15 orphanages and nurseries, 40 family counseling centers and other pro-life centers, 23 centers for education and social rehabilitation, and 32 institutions of other kinds.
The second country that Pope Benedict will visit is the Republic of Angola, which has the city of Luanda as its capital. The Pope will arrive in Luanda just before 1:00 p.m. on Friday, March 20.
Angola, located due south of Cameroon on Africa’s west coast, has a population of 15,473,000 of whom 8,600,000 (55.6 percent) are Catholic.
There are 18 ecclesiastical circumscriptions, 307 parishes and 2,976 pastoral centers of other kinds. Currently, there are 27 bishops, 794 priests, 2,276 religious, 5 lay members of secular institutes and 30,934 catechists. Minor seminarians number 1,031 and major seminarians 1,236.
A total of 226,798 students attend 481 centers of Catholic education, which covers the educational spectrum from kindergarten to the university level. Other institutions belonging to the Church or run by priests or religious in Cameroon include 23 hospitals, 269 clinics, 16 homes for the elderly or disabled, 45 orphanages and nurseries, 37 family counseling centers and other pro-life centers, 28 centers for education and social rehabilitation, and 41 institutions of other kinds.