The Church Present and Active in the World

Author: LOR

The Church Present and Active in the World

L'Osservatore Romano

The Pontifical Yearbook 2013 presented to Pope Francis

The Pontifical Yearbook 2013 was presented to the Holy Father on Monday morning, 13 May [2013], by Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Secretariat of State, and by Archbishop Angelo Becciu, Substitute for General Affairs. The Yearbook was edited by Mons. Vittorio Formenti, Head of the Central Office of Church Statistics and by Prof. Enrico Nenna, as well as by other collaborators. The Annuarium Statisticum Ecclesiae 2011, edited by the same office, was also presented.

The printing of both books was handled by Fr Sergio Pellini, SDB, Director-General; Antonio Maggiotto, SDB; Giuseppe Canesso, SDB; Fr Marek Kaczmarczyk, SDB; and Domenico Nguyên Duc Nam, SDB, of the Vatican Press. Both volumes will be available in bookstores.

The Holy Father expressed his gratitude for the tribute, displaying keen interest in the figures illustrated and thanked those who collaborated on the new editions of both books.

The book publishes various changes that concern the life of the Catholic Church in the world during 2012 and until Pope Francis' election. During this period 11 new Episcopal Sees, 2 Personal Ordinariates, 1 Vicar Apostolic and 1 Prefecture were established. One Territorial Prelature was raised to a Diocese and two Apostolic Exarchates were raised to Eparchies.

The statistical data of the Annuarium Statisticum which refers to 2011 highlights aspects of the presence and ministry in the 2,979 ecclesiastical circumscription of the Catholic Church around the world.

The number of Catholics on the planet, from 2010 to 2011, increased from 1.196 million to 1.214 million: an increase equivalent to 1.5%, a slightly higher increase than that of earth's population (1.23%). Thus the presence of Catholics in the world remains essentially unchanged at (17.5%). In this period, the distribution of Catholics increased by 4.3% in Africa, which saw a population increase of 2.3%. Asia also showed an increase in Catholics compared to that of the population (2.0% versus 1.2%). The growth in the Americas and in Europe remained stable with respect to population growth (0.3%). In 2011, the total number of baptized Catholics distributed across the continents was: 16.0% in Africa, 48.8% in the Americas, 10.9% in Asia, 23.5% in Europe and 0.8% in Oceania.

From 2010 to 2011, the number of bishops in the world increased from 5,104 to 5,132, with a relative increase of 0.55%. The increase particularly involved Oceania (4.6%) and Africa (+1.0%), while Asia and Europe are slightly above the global average. America did not register any change. Given these different dynamics, however, the distribution of bishops across the various continents remained largely the same over the last two year period; the Americas and Europe alone continue to represent nearly 70% of the total.

The number of diocesan and religious priests in the world has increased, growing in the last decade from 405,067 as of 31 December 2001, to 413,418 as of 31 December 2011 (+2.1%). This evolution was not, however, uniform in the different geographical areas. The number of priests in Africa and Asia is somewhat comforting, with +39.5% and +32.0% respectively (and with an increase of more than 3,000 in both continents in 2011 alone), while the Americas remained stationary around an average of 122,000. Europe, in comparison with the global average, has seen a decrease of more than 9% in the past decade.

Permanent deacons are booming both globally and on the individual continents, rising from a total of more than 29,000 in 2001 to about 41,000 a decade later, with a variation of more than 40%. Europe and the Americas registered both the most numerically significant and vibrant trend. In fact, the European deacons, little more than 9,000 in 2001, were almost 14,000 in 2011, an increase of over 43%. In America the number grew from 19,100 in 2001 to more than 26,000 in 2011. These two continents alone account for 97.4% of the global total, with the remaining 2.6% split between Africa, Asia and Oceania.

Professed religious who are not priests have continued to firmly establish themselves over the last decade, registering just over 55,000 in 2011. In Africa and Asia there are variations of +18.5% and +44.9%, respectively. In 2011 these two continents together accounted for over 36% of the total (compared to less than 28% in 2001). In contrast, the numbers registered in Europe (18%), America (-3.6%) and Oceania (-21.9%) dropped by almost 8% over the last decade.

A strong downward trend was observed in data for the professed women religious, with a decrease of 10% from 2001 to 2011. The total number of professed religious, that counted than 792,000 in 2001 is now at just over 713,000 in 10 years later. The decline particularly affects three continents (Europe, America and Oceania), with significant variations (-22% in Europe, -21% in Oceania and -17% in America). In Africa and Asia, however, there has been a constant increase, more than 28% and 18%, respectively. Consequently, the fraction of professed religious in Africa and Asia out of the global total increased from 24.4% to about 33%, at the expense of Europe and America, whose numbers fell respectively by a total of 74% to 66%.

Candidates for diocesan and religious priesthood globally went from 112,244 in 2001 to 120,616 in 2011, an increase of 7.5%. The evolution was very different in the various continents. Whereas, Africa (+30.9%) and Asia (+29.4%) showed lively growth, Europe and America recorded a decline of 21.7% and of 1.9%; respectively. As a result, we observe a reduction in the contribution of the European continent to the growth potential of the renewal of priestly life, with a quota that has passed from 23.1% to 16.8%, compared with an expansion of the African and Asian continents.

Taken from:
L'Osservatore Romano
Weekly Edition in English
15 May 2013, page 12

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