The Fides agency has released a new report showing the number of Catholics across the globe has increased, but the number of priests and nuns has decreased.
The survey released to mark World Mission Day of World Mission Day reveals growing numbers of Catholics in what Pope Francis often refers to as “the global peripheries,” even as the number of believers continues to diminish in Europe.
As of 31 December 2021 there were 1.375 billion Catholics in the world – an increase of 16.24 million Catholics, compared to the same day in 2020.
The increase applies to all continents, except Europe.
The main growth in the number of Catholics was registered in Africa and the Americas.
Europe also registered the largest drop in the number of priests with 3,632 fewer than the previous year.
There has been a decline in the number of Catholic bishops – now 5,340 across the world – and the number of priests has fallen by 2,347 to around 407,872.
While the number of priests has shrunk, the number of Catholics per priest in the world has increased, with an average of 3,373 Catholics for every priest in the world, a rise of 59 people per priest.
The number of nuns has also decreased by around 10,588. The largest drop was recorded in Europe, with 7,804 fewer consecrated women.