Last week the L’Osservatore Romano, the Vatican’s semi-official newspaper, released some statistical data on the Catholic priesthood as of the end of 2009. The complete report is expected any day.
The principal finding is that there were 410,593 priests worldwide in 2009, up over 5,000 from the previous decade, an overall increase of 1.4%.
The news isn’t bright on all fronts, however. For one thing, while the overall number is up, there are now 5,000 fewer religious order priests than a decade ago, representing a decrease of 3.5%. Fortunately, the number of diocesan priests grew by 10,000, representing an increase of 4%.
Also, here in the United States, there was a 7% decrease in diocesan priests and a 21% decrease in religious order priests over the past ten years The numbers were similar for Europe. As has been the case for some time, the growth has primarily taken place in Asia, Africa, and Central and South America.
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