On the occasion of the 94th World Mission Day (18 October), Fides News Agency published a report on Catholic Church statistics throughout the world. The information was taken from the Church’s Book of Statistics, updated to 31 December 2018. The data reads:
There has been no halt to a phenomenon that has been going on for years now–that of the declining number of vocations throughout the world. But with a new aspect: it is not priests who are in sharp decline, but rather women religious, who decreased by 7,249 in Europe, America and Oceania comprehensively. Africa and Asia, instead, registered a slight increase compared to the previous year.
The report says that at the end of 2018, out of a world population of approximately 7.5 billion people, Catholics numbered 1,328,993,000–an overall increase on each continent compared to the previous year. The worldwide percentage of Catholics (17.73%) remained unchanged.
Instead, the number of bishops in the world decreased by 12 to a total of 5,377; catechists (especially in America) decreased by 43,697 to a total of 3,076,624, while diocesan priests dropped by 517 to a total of 414,065. Once again, Europe leads in these declines, followed by America.
For the sixth consecutive year, there was a decline in the number of religious priests to a total of 50,941 worldwide, with Europe still leading the falling statistics (-591). The data confirmed the trend toward a global decrease in the number of women religious to a total of 641,661.
However, there are some positive variations in the data, which reveals that there was an increase in the number of lay missionaries to a total of 376,188, and also in the number of major seminarians (both diocesan and religious), to a total of 115,880.