New Catholic statistics show worldwide growth in church

.- This morning the Holy Father was presented with the Pontifical Yearbook, also known as the "Annuario Pontificio" for 2005, which shows updated statistics of Catholics around the world. The Vatican published today some highlights of the information included in the new edition.

In 2004, the Pope erected ten new episcopal sees and one apostolic vicariate. Six metropolitan sees were created, and a total of 171 bishops appointed.

The number of baptized faithful rose from 1,071 million in 2002, to 1,086 million in 2003. As for the geographical distribution of Catholics, the note highlights the fact that 49.8 percent of them live in the Americas, 25.8 percent in Europe, 13.2 percent in Africa, 10.4 percent in Asia and 0.8 percent in Oceania.

According to the new statistics, there are 405,450 priests (268,041 diocesan and 137,409 religious), and the total number of priests in 2003 increased with respect to the year before.

The number of priestly ordinations also went up from 9,247 in 2002 to 9,317 in 2003. However, the number of seminarians in philosophical and theological seminaries fell from 112,643 in 2002 to 112,373 in 2003.

The numbers of seminarians divided by continent are as follows: the Americas 37,191, Asia 27,931, Europe 24,387, Africa 21,909, and Oceania 955.

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