Vatican City (Agenzia Fides) – As every year, in view of World Mission Day, which this year celebrates its 95th anniversary on Sunday, October 24, 2021, Fides News Service offers some statistics chosen to give a panorama of the missionary Church all over the world.


The tables are taken from the latest edition of the «Church’s Book of Statistics» published (updated to 31 December 2019) regarding members of the Church, church structures, healthcare, welfare and education. Please note that variations are indicated in brackets, increase (+) or decrease (-) compared to the previous year (2018), according to the comparison made by Fides News Service.
Finally, the picture of ecclesiastical circumscriptions dependent on the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples is reported.


To December 31, 2019 the world population was 7.577.777.000, with an increase of 81.383.000 units compared to the previous year. Population growth was registered on every continent, including Europe. Increases were registered above all in Asia (+40.434.000) and in Africa (+33.360.000), followed by America (+6.973.000), Europe (+157.000) and Oceania (+459.000).
On the same date, December 31, 2019, Catholics in the world numbered 1.344.403.000 units with an overall increase of 15.410.000 units compared to the previous year. The increase affects all continents, except Europe (-292.000). As in the past, increases were registered above all in Africa (+8.302.000) and in America (+5.373.000), followed by Asia (+1.909.000) and Oceania (+118.000).


The number of ecclesiastical circumscriptions remains more or less unvaried, there is only an increase of 1 unit compared to the previous year, to 3.026. Mission Stations with a resident priest number 3.217 (+301), increases were registered in all continents. Mission Stations without a resident priest decreased by 5.836 units, reaching a total 131.407.
The total number of Bishops in the world decreased by 13 units, to 5.364. Diocesan Bishops increased (+12) and Religious Bishops decreased (-25). The total number of priests in the world increased this year, to 414.336 (+271). The continent which registered a major decrease was again Europe (-2.608) as well as America (-690) and Oceania (-69). Increases were registered in Africa (+1.649) and in Asia (+1.989).


The number of non-religious priests decreased for the seventh consecutive year, by 646 units, to 50.295. Even this year there is an overall decrease in the number of women religious, by 11.562 units, to a total 630.099. An increase, once again was registered in Africa (+835) and in Asia (+599), decrease in Europe (-7.400), America (-5.315) and Oceania (–281).
The number of lay missionaries in the world is 410.440, with an overall increase of 34.252 units. I Catechists in the world decreased by 2.590 units, to a total 3.074.034.


The number of major seminarians, diocesan and religious decreased this year, they are globally 1822 units, reaching a total of 114.058. Increases were registered only in Africa (+509), decreases in Asia (-898), Oceania (-53), Europe (-630) and America (-750). The total number of minor seminarians, diocesan and religious this year decrease for the fourth consecutive year by 3.174 units to 96.990. Overall decrease in all continents except Oceania (+22): in America (-914), Africa (-1.519), Europe (-743) and in Asia (-20).


In the field of education, the Catholic Church runs 72.667 kindergartens with 7.532.992 pupils; 98.925 primary schools with 35.188.771 pupils; 49.552 secondary schools with 19.370.763 pupils. The Church also cares 2.395.540 high school pupils and 3.833.012 university students.


Charity and healthcare centres run in the world by the Church include: 5.245 hospitals, most of them in Africa (1.418) and in America (1.362); 14.963 dispensaries, mainly in Africa (5.307), America (4.043); 532 Care Homes for people with Leprosy, mainly in Asia (269) and Africa (201); 15.429 Homes for the elderly, or the chronically ill or people with a disability, mainly in Europe (8.031) and in America (3.642); 9.374 orphanages, mainly in Asia (3.233) and in Europe (2.247); 10.723 creches, mainly in Asia (2.973) and in America (2.957); 12.308 marriage counselling centres, mainly in Europe (5.504) and America (4.289); 3.198 social rehabilitation centres and 33.840 other kinds of institutes.
The ecclesiastical Circumscriptions dependent on the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples (Cep) are 1.117. Most of the ecclesiastical circumscriptions entrusted to Propaganda Fide are in Africa (517) and in Asia (483), followed by America (71) and Oceania (46). (SL) (Agenzia Fides, 21/10/2021)