Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Secretary of State, and Archbishop Leonardi Sandri, Substitute for General Affairs, presented to Pope John Paul II the first copy of the 2004 edition of the “Annuario Pontificio,” or Pontifical Yearbook, which this year reveals, among other figures, that half of the world’s Catholics live on the American continent.
The figures, based on data from 2002, indicate that there are 1,071,000,000 baptized Catholics in the world, who make up 17.2% of the world population.
Their distribution by continent is 50% in America, 26.1% in Europe, 12.8% in Africa, 10.3% in Asia and 0.8% in Oceania.
With respect to the population, the percentage of Catholics is: 62.4% in America, 40.5% in Europe, 26.8% in Oceania, 16.5% in Africa and 3% in Asia.
The number of people who dedicate themselves to pastoral activity is 4,217,572, distributed as follows: 4,605 bishops, 405,058 priests (of which 267,334 are diocesan), 30,097 permanent deacons, 54,828 male religious, 782,932 female religious (of which 51,371 are contemplative), 28,766 members of secular institutes, 143,745 lay missionaries and 2,767,451 catechists.
Compared to 2001, the total number of priests remained the same (405,067 in 2001). However, upon analyzing the number of religious and diocesan priests, an increase in the number of diocesan priests is noted (from 266,448 in 2001 to 267,334 in 2002) as well as a decrease in the number of religious priests (from 138,619 to 137,724).
The number of major seminarians is 112,982 (in 2001 there were 112,244), signaling an increase of 0.7%. There was an increase in the candidates to the priesthood in Africa (more than 5.8%) and America (more than 1.4%), while in Europe and Asia there was a slight decrease.