THE Catholic population in the world increased by 15 million or 1.3 percent, according to a statement by the Vatican press office.
The report said the rate at which Catholics all over the world are growing slightly outpaced the global population growth rate that is estimated at 1.1 percent.
The statistics relate to the year 2009 and are contained in the 2011 ‘Annuario Pontificio’, a yearbook containing information about every Vatican office, every cardinal and bishop, every diocese and religious order in the world.
The first copy of the 2011 yearbook was presented to Pope Benedict XVI by the officials of the Vatican Secretariat of State and its Central Office of Church Statistics on Feb 19.
Quoting the yearbook Vatican said, the number of Catholics reported was about 1.18 billion, which was up 15 million from the 1.16 billion reported a year earlier.
While only 13.6 per cent of the world’s people live in the Americas, 49.4 percent of all Catholics live there, the Vatican said.
The number of bishops in the world increased to 5,065 from 5,002; the number of priests went from 405,178 to 410,593, increasing everywhere except Europe.