.- The number of Catholics worldwide rose by 19 million from 2007 to 2008, according to the Vatican almanac presented to the Pope on Saturday morning. The 2010 "Annuario Pontifico," or Pontifical Yearbook, which offers a variety of other statistics concerning religious and lay faithful in the Universal Church, also reports an increase in seminarians.
The 2010 Pontifical Yearbook was presented to the Holy Father on Saturday morning by Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone and Archbishop Fernando Filoni. It was edited under the direction of Msgr. Vittorio Formenti, who is in charge of the Central Office of Church Statistics, and Professor Enrico Nenna.
The "Annuario Pontifico" details the administrative actions of Pope Benedict during the year 2009, including his creation of nine new episcopal sees and a prelature, a new diocese and the appointment of 169 new bishops.
Besides statistics from 2009, it also offers information valid up to 2008 on the 2,945 ecclesiastic districts in the Catholic Church all over the globe, including the statistic that there are now 1.166 billion baptized Catholics in the world, comprising 17.4 percent of all people.
The yearbook also documents changes in the number of religious among the five continents recognized by the Holy See. North and South America are considered as one continent and Antarctica is not taken into account.
The total number of bishops around the world in 2008 was 5,002, which marked a 1.13 percent overall increase, with the only decrease coming in Oceania. The number of priests in the world rose from 405,178 in the year 2000 to 409,166 in 2008. Just over 47 percent of the priests serve in Europe, compared to 30 percent in America, 13.2 in Asia, 8.7 in Africa and 1.2 in Oceania.
As a point of reference, in the year 2000, European clergy figured in at 51.5 percent of world numbers.
The number of consecrated religious decreased from 801,185 in the year 2000 to 739,067 in 2008, with there being 17.6 percent fewer in Europe, a drop of 12.9 percent in America and 14.9 percent in Oceania, while the number in Africa and Asia have risen by double digit percentages points.
There was an increase in seminarians in the Catholic Church from 115,919 in 2007 to 117,024 in 2008, in which Africa, Asia and Oceania enjoyed increases while Europe's numbers dropped by 4.3 percent and America's figures remained nearly the same.
The 2010 Pontifical Yearbook is published by the Vatican Press and will soon be on sale.