CNA Staff, Oct 24, 2023 / 10:18 am
New data from the Vatican show that Africa added the greatest number of Catholics in 2021 out of all the continents and that all the world’s continents registered at least a modest increase in the number of Catholics in 2021 — except for Europe, which continued a yearslong decline.
The annual report, released Oct. 22 by the Vatican’s Fides news agency on the occasion of World Mission Sunday, covers the one-year time period of Dec. 31, 2020, to Dec. 31, 2021. World Mission Sunday was established by Pope Pius XI in 1926 and is usually observed on the third Sunday of October.
Catholics in the world numbered 1,375,852,000 people at the end of 2021, with an overall increase of 16.2 million compared with the previous year, the report states.
The African continent gained 40 million people in the time frame studied, 8.3 million of whom are Catholic. Pope Francis has shown particular pastoral attention to Africa this year, making a visit to the heavily Catholic Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan early in 2023.