Top 10 Catholic Facts Revealed in the 2013 Pontifical Yearbook

Earlier this month the 2013 Pontifical Yearbook and the Annuarium Statisticum Ecclesiae (annual statistics of the church) were presented to Pope Francis.

They are prepared yearly by the Central Bureau of Statistics of the Church. Because these books aren’t exactly easy to find on, I decided to list below what I think are the top 10 most interesting facts they contain.

Please keep in mind, the 2013 yearbook tracks statistics as of 2011 in most cases.

10. The number of new dioceses and jurisdictions created this year: 15

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From 2011 to 2012, there were 11 new episcopal sees (dioceses) erected, as well as 2 personal ordinariates, 1 apostolic vicariate and 1 apostolic prefecture.

9. The number of ecclesiastical jurisdictions around the world (dioceses, eparchies, etc): 2,979

Screen shot 2013-05-24 at 12.05.51 PM

That’s a lot of territory! I wonder when the church will surpass 3,000?

8. The number of professed men religious (monks, friars, etc): 55,000

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Largely unchanged from a decade ago, but obviously there are individual pockets of growth (such as the eastern province dominican friars, some of whom are pictured above).

7. The number of professed women religious: 713,000

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A strong downward trend is still evident here, with a decrease of over 10% from 10 years ago, when there were 792,000 professed religious. While the number of professed women religious fell in Europe, America and Oceania, it rose in Africa and Asia.

6. The number of bishops: 5,143

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Last year there were 5,104 bishops in the world. American and Europe alone account for nearly 70% of the number of bishops around the globe.

5. The number of priests: 413,418

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A decade ago there were 405,067 priests in the world. Over the past decade there has been a 39.5% increase in the number of priests in Africa and a 32% increase in the number of priests in Asia.

4. The number of seminarians and candidates for priesthood: 120,616

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A strong uptick from a decade ago when there were only 112,244 men in formation, an increase of 7.5%. Sadly, there are 21.7% less men in formation in Europe now then there were 10 years ago.

3. The number of permanent deacons: 41,100

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This number saw the largest percentage increase. Ten years ago there only about 29,000 permanent deacons! 97.4% of permanent deacons are in America or Europe.

2. The number of Catholics: 1,214,000,000

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Yes, that’s 1.2 billion. The growth of Catholics outpaced the global growth rate by a modest 0.27%. Nearly 50% of new baptisms took place in the Americas (the second most frequent area was Africa with 16% of new baptisms).

1. The number of popes: 2 (?!) 

Screen shot 2013-05-24 at 12.32.40 PM

Just kidding! Of course, Pope Benedict is now emeritus and we have one universal supreme pontiff: Pope Francis.

Which global Catholic trend is most interesting to you? Let us know in the comments!


Categories:Church News


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  • Kevin

    Haha, always good to recall the universality of Catholicism. #1 is a favorite of mine.

  • Antonio A. Badilla

    What wonderful news! To hear some people, one would think the Church is dying any minute now!

  • Lauren

    While I agree completely with Greg’s points, perhaps the larger issue is orthodoxy. Orders such as the Dominican Sisters are thriving, whereas more liberal-based orders are in steep decline. America & Europe has an abundance of the latter. That coupled with an ongoing stigma of young women pursuing a vocation to religious life (in the US at least) is a picture I would certainly love to see change as well. As far as your picture #4 – my own son is in that photo – we are blessed!

  • ES

    The first picture of the United States is misleading, because it shows counties, not dioceses. Could an accurate diagram replace it? Right now the photo is borderline absurd. There is no way there could be that many dioceses in the U.S.


    Dear Thomas ~ I’m struck that our numbers are up in every category except professed women.

    Here in America I suspect two things that would help are 1) Greater acceptance of late vocations (Some orders won’t take a woman over 30) and funds, at maybe the diociscen level, to make student loan payments for women entering an order. What do you think? ~ Pax tecum, Greg



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