World’s Catholics number 1.166 billion: Vatican

February 20th, 2010 - 9:50 pm ICT by IANS  

Vatican City, Feb 20 (DPA) The number of Catholics in the world has “increased slightly” to 1.166 billion, the Vatican said Saturday, reporting its latest church statistics.
The figures cover the year 2008 and are contained in the 2010 edition of the Pontifical Yearbook which was presented to Pope Benedict XVI at a Vatican ceremony.

They also registered a decrease of nearly eight percent in the number of nuns since the year 2000, with the steepest fall in Europe (17.6 percent) and the Americas (12.9 percent).

Some 19 million more Catholics were baptised in 2008 compared to the previous year - an increase of 1.7 percent, the Vatican said.

Catholics make up some 17.4 percent of the global population, a slight increase from the 17.33 percent in 2007, according to the Vatican estimates.

In what it called a “positive but moderate evolution”, the Vatican registered a one percent increase in the number of priests to a total of 409,166 during the period 2000-2008.

The total number of candidates to the priesthood rose by one percent in 2008 compared to the previous year.

Increases were registered in Africa (3.6 percent), Asia (4.4 percent) and Oceania (6.5 percent). However, the number of candidates for the priesthood in Europe has decreased by 4.3 percent, while in the Americas the figures remained unchanged.

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