Catholic priest numbers increasing worldwide

A statistical yearbook presented to Pope Benedict XVI has shown that the number of Catholic priests in the world has been steadily increasing for nearly a decade.

According to the book, the number of priests worldwide has increased since 2000 from 405,178 to 408,024 in 2007. Throughout the 1980s and 90s the number of Catholic priests had been falling significantly.

Many of the new recruits to the priesthood were found to come from Africa and Asia, with Africa seeing a rise in numbers of 27.6 per cent and Asia going up 21 per cent.

The book also revealed that the number of Catholics around the world had remained stable at around 1.147 billion people – approximately 17.3 per cent of the world’s population.

Across the world the number of candidates for the priesthood had increased by a little under half a per cent. In Europe and the Americas, the number of candidates fell.