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Catholicism by the Numbers – Statistics for the Catholic Church – 2019

Catholicism by the Numbers

Statistics for the Catholic Church – 2019

On the occasion of World Mission Day, which this year celebrates its 93rd anniversary on Sunday 20 October within the context of the Extraordinary Missionary Month of October 2019, announced by Pope Francis to mark the 100th anniversary of Pope Benedict XV’s Apostolic Letter Maximum Illud, Fides News Service offers some statistics chosen to give a panorama of the missionary Church all over the world.  They are taken from the latest edition of the “Church’s Book of Statistics” published (updated to 31 December 2017) regarding members of the Church, church structures, healthcare, welfare and education. Please note that variations, increase or decrease, emerging from our own comparison with last year’s figures, are marked with “+” or “–” in brackets.

World population

On 31 December 2017, the world population was 7,408,374,000 with an increase of 56,085,000 compared to the previous year.   Population growth, almost half compared to the previous year, was recorded on every continent, including Europe, in its third year of growth after the decrease in previous years – increases were recorded above all in Africa (+ 33.572.000) and in Asia (+ 11.975.000), followed by America (+ 8.738.000), Europe (+ 1.059.000) and Oceania (+ 741.000).


On the same date, 31 December 2017, Catholics in the world numbered 1,313,278,000 with an overall increase of 14,219,000, almost the same as the previous year.   The increase affects all continents, including Europe (+ 259.000), after a decrease for three consecutive years.   Increases were recorded above all in Africa (+ 5,605,000) and in America (+ 6,083,000) followed by Asia (+ 2,080,000) and Oceania (+ 191,000).

The world percentage of Catholics increased by 0.06 %, settling at 17.73%.   By continent: increases were recorded in America (+ 0.05) and Asia (+ 0,03), decrease in Africa (- 0,07), Europe (- 0,02) and Oceania (- 0,01).


The total number of priests in the world decreased this year, to 414,582 (- 387).   The continents which recorded a decrease were again Europe (- 2.946) and Oceania (- 97). Increases were recorded in Africa (+ 1.192), America (+ 40) and Asia (+ 1.424) unvaried.

Diocesan priests decreased by 21, reaching a total of 281,810 with decreases again in Europe (- 2.048) and Oceania (- 36).   Increases were recorded in Africa (+ 959), America (+ 404) and Asia (+ 700).

The number of religious priests decreased by 366 to a total of 132,772.   Increases were recorded, as in recent years, in Africa (+ 233) and in Asia (+ 724), whereas numbers dropped in America (- 364), Europe (- 898) and Oceania (- 61).

Catholic schools and Education

In the field of education, the Catholic Church runs 71.305 kindergartens with 7,303,839 pupils.

101,527 primary schools with 34,558,527 pupils and 48,560 secondary schools with 20,320,592 pupils.   The Church also cares for 2,345,799 high school pupils and 2,945,295 university students.

Catholic charity and healthcare centres

Charity and healthcare centres managed by the Church worldwide include: 5,269 hospitals, most of them in America (1,399) and Africa (1,367), 16,068 dispensaries, mainly in Africa (5,907), America (4.330) and Asia (2.919), 646 care homes for people with leprosy, mainly in Asia

(362) and Africa (229); 15,735 homes for the elderly, the chronically ill or the disabled, mainly in Europe (8,475) and America (3,596), 9,813 orphanages, mainly in Asia (3,473), 10,492 creches, mainly in America (3,153) and in Asia (2,900), 13,065 marriage counselling centres, mainly in Europe (5,676) and America (4,798), 3,169 social rehabilitation centres and 31,182 institutions of other types.

Read the rest of the Statistics here:

Catholicism by the Numbers



Thought for the Day – 20 October – World Mission Sunday – The Holy Father’s Message

Thought for the Day – 20 October – Twenty Ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C, Gospel: Luke 18:1–8 and World Mission Sundayworld mission sun 20 oct 2019 i am a mission you are a mission

The Holy Father’s Message

Baptised and Sent
The Church of Christ on Mission in the World

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

For the month of October 2019, I have asked that the whole Church revive her missionary awareness and commitment as we commemorate the centenary of the Apostolic Letter Maximum Illud of Pope Benedict XV (30 November 1919).   Its farsighted and prophetic vision of the apostolate has made me realise once again the importance of renewing the Church’s missionary commitment and giving fresh evangelical impulse to her work of preaching and bringing to the world the salvation of Jesus Christ, who died and rose again.
The title of the present Message is the same as that of October’s Missionary Month—Baptised and Sent: The Church of Christ on Mission in the World.   Celebrating this month will help us, first, to rediscover the missionary dimension of our faith in Jesus Christ, a faith graciously bestowed on us in baptism.   Our filial relationship with God, is not something simply private but always in relation to the Church.   Through our communion with God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, we, together with so many of our other brothers and sisters, are born to new life.   This divine life is not a product for sale – we do not practice proselytism – but a treasure to be given, communicated and proclaimed – that is the meaning of mission.   We received this gift freely and we share it freely (cf. Mt 10:8), without excluding anyone.   God wills that all people be saved by coming to know the truth and experiencing His mercy through the ministry of the Church, the universal sacrament of salvation (cf. 1 Tim 2:4; Lumen Gentium, 48).

The Church is on a mission in the world.   Faith in Jesus Christ enables us to see all things in their proper perspective, as we view the world with God’s own eyes and heart.   Hope opens us up to the eternal horizons of the divine life that we share.   Charity, of which we have a foretaste in the sacraments and in fraternal love, impels us to go forth to the ends of the earth (cf. Mic 5:4; Mt 28:19; Acts 1:8; Rom 10:18).   A Church that presses forward to the farthest frontiers requires a constant and ongoing missionary conversion.   How many saints, how many men and women of faith, witness to the fact that this unlimited openness, this going forth in mercy, is indeed possible and realistic, for it is driven by love and its deepest meaning as gift, sacrifice and gratuitousness (cf. 2 Cor 5:14-21)!   The man who preaches God must be a man of God (cf. Maximum Illud).

This missionary mandate touches us personally – I am a mission, always, you are a mission, always, every baptised man and woman is a mission.   People in love never stand still – they are drawn out of themselves, they are attracted and attract others in turn, they give themselves to others and build relationships that are life-giving.   As far as God’s love is concerned, no-one is useless or insignificant.   Each of us is a mission to the world, for each of us is the fruit of God’s love.   Even if parents can betray their love by lies, hatred and infidelity, God never takes back His gift of life.   From eternity He has destined each of His children to share in His divine and eternal life (cf. Eph 1:3-6).

This life is bestowed on us in baptism, which grants us the gift of faith in Jesus Christ, the conqueror of sin and death. Baptism gives us rebirth in God’s own image and likeness and makes us members of the Body of Christ, which is the Church.   In this sense, baptism is truly necessary for salvation for it ensures that we are always and everywhere sons and daughters in the house of the Father, and never orphans, strangers or slaves.   What, in the Christian, is a sacramental reality – whose fulfilment is found in the Eucharist – remains the vocation and destiny of every man and woman in search of conversion and salvation.   For baptism fulfils the promise of the gift of God that makes everyone a son or daughter in the Son.   We are children of our natural parents but in baptism, we receive the origin of all fatherhood and true motherhood, no-one can have God for a Father who does not have the Church for a mother (cf. Saint Cyprian, De Cath. Eccl., 6).

Our mission, then, is rooted in the fatherhood of God and the motherhood of the Church. The mandate given by the Risen Jesus at Easter is inherent in Baptism – as the Father has sent me, so I send you, filled with the Holy Spirit, for the reconciliation of the world (cf. Jn 20:19-23; Mt 28:16-20).   This mission is part of our identity as Christians, it makes us responsible for enabling all men and women to realise their vocation to be adoptive children of the Father, to recognise their personal dignity and to appreciate the intrinsic worth of every human life, from conception until natural death.   Today’s rampant secularism, when it becomes an aggressive cultural rejection of God’s active fatherhood in our history, is an obstacle to authentic human fraternity, which finds expression in reciprocal respect for the life of each person.   Without the God of Jesus Christ, every difference is reduced to a baneful threat, making impossible, any real fraternal acceptance and fruitful unity, within the human race.

The universality of the salvation offered by God in Jesus Christ led Benedict XV to call for an end to all forms of nationalism and ethnocentrism, or the merging of the preaching of the Gospel with the economic and military interests of the colonial powers.   In his Apostolic Letter Maximum Illud, the Pope noted that the Church’s universal mission requires setting aside exclusivist ideas of membership in one’s own country and ethnic group.   The opening of the culture and the community to the salvific newness of Jesus Christ requires leaving behind every kind of undue ethnic and ecclesial introversion.

Today too, the Church needs men and women who, by virtue of their baptism, respond generously to the call to leave behind home, family, country, language and local Church, and to be sent forth to the nations, to a world not yet transformed by the sacraments of Jesus Christ and His holy Church.   By proclaiming God’s word, bearing witness to the Gospel and celebrating the life of the Spirit, they summon to conversion, baptise and offer Christian salvation, with respect for the freedom of each person and in dialogue with the cultures and religions of the peoples to whom they are sent.

The missio ad gentes, which is always necessary for the Church, thus contributes in a fundamental way to the process of ongoing conversion in all Christians.   Faith in the Easter event of Jesus, the ecclesial mission received in baptism, the geographic and cultural detachment from oneself and one’s own home, the need for salvation from sin and liberation from personal and social evil – all these demand the mission that reaches to the very ends of the earth.

The providential coincidence of this centenary year with the celebration of the Special Synod on the Churches in the Amazon allows me to emphasise how the mission entrusted to us by Jesus with the gift of His Spirit is also timely and necessary for those lands and their peoples.   A renewed Pentecost opens wide the doors of the Church, in order that no culture remain closed in on itself and no people cut off from the universal communion of the faith.   No-one ought to remain closed in self-absorption, in the self-referentiality of his or her own ethnic and religious affiliation.   The Easter event of Jesus breaks through the narrow limits of worlds, religions and cultures, calling them to grow in respect, for the dignity of men and women and towards a deeper conversion to the truth of the Risen Lord, who gives authentic life to all.

Here I am reminded of the words of Pope Benedict XVI at the beginning of the meeting of Latin American Bishops at Aparecida, Brazil, in 2007.   I would like to repeat these words and make them my own:  “Yet what did the acceptance of the Christian faith mean for the nations of Latin America and the Caribbean?   For them, it meant knowing and welcoming Christ, the unknown God whom their ancestors were seeking, without realising it, in their rich religious traditions. Christ is the Saviour for whom they were silently longing.   It also meant that they received, in the waters of Baptism, the divine life that made them children of God by adoption, moreover, they received the Holy Spirit who came to make their cultures fruitful, purifying them and developing the numerous seeds that the incarnate Word had planted in them, thereby guiding them along the paths of the Gospel…   The Word of God, in becoming flesh in Jesus Christ, also became history and culture.   The utopia of going back to breathe life into the pre-Columbian religions, separating them from Christ and from the universal Church, would not be a step forward, indeed, it would be a step back.   In reality, it would be a retreat towards a stage in history anchored in the past” (Address at the Inaugural Session, 13 May 2007: Insegnamenti III, 1 [2007], 855-856).

We entrust the Church’s mission to Mary our Mother.   In union with her Son, from the moment of the Incarnation, the Blessed Virgin set out on her pilgrim way.   She was fully involved in the mission of Jesus, a mission that became her own at the foot of the Cross – the mission of co-operating, as Mother of the Church, in bringing new sons and daughters of God to birth in the Spirit and in faith.

I would like to conclude with a brief word about the Pontifical Mission Societies, already proposed in Maximum Illud as a missionary resource.  The Pontifical Mission Societies serve the Church’s universality as a global network of support for the Pope in his missionary commitment by prayer, the soul of mission, and charitable offerings from Christians throughout the world.   Their donations assist the Pope in the evangelisation efforts of particular Churches (the Pontifical Society for the Propagation of the Faith), in the formation of local clergy (the Pontifical Society of Saint Peter the Apostle), in raising missionary awareness in children (Pontifical Society of Missionary Childhood) and in encouraging the missionary dimension of Christian faith (Pontifical Missionary Union). In renewing my support for these Societies, I trust that the extraordinary Missionary Month of October 2019 will contribute to the renewal of their missionary service to my ministry.

To men and women missionaries and to all those who, by virtue of their baptism, share in any way in the mission of the Church, I send my heartfelt blessing.

From the Vatican, 9 June 2019, Solemnity of Pentecost

Holy Mother, Pray for us all!holy mother pray for us 30 jan 2019.jpg


Quote/s of the Day – 20 October – World Mission Sunday

Quote/s of the Day – 20 October – World Mission Sunday

“We must sow
the seed,
not hoard it.”

St Dominic (1170-1221)we-must-sow-the-seed-not-hoard-it-st-dominic-8-aug-2018and 20 october 2019.jpg

“He will be with you also,
all the way, that faithful God.
Every morning when you awaken
to the old and tolerable pain,
at every mile of the hot uphill dusty road of tiring duty,
on to the judgement seat,
the same Christ there as ever,
still loving you,
still sufficient for you, even then.
And then, on through all eternity.”

Thomas à Kempis (1380-1471)he-will-be-with-you-also-that-same-christ-thomas-a-kempis-14-june-2018-and-3-oct-2019 and 20 oct 2019.jpg

“It is our vocation
to set people’s hearts ablaze,
to do what the Son of God did,
who came to light a fire on earth
in order to set it ablaze with His love.”

Blessed Frédéric Ozanam (1813–1853)it-is-our-vocation-bl-frederic-ozanam-9-sept-2019 20 oct 2019.jpg

“We are apostles!
We are apostles
and we wander far and wide,
we work generously,
only for the sake of souls,
only for the Church,
only for heaven!”

Blessed Paolo Manna (1872-1952)we-are-apostles-bl-paolo-manna-15-sept-2019 and 20 oct 2019.jpg

“To die for the faith
is a gift to some,
to live the faith
is a call for all.”

St John Paul II (1920-2005)to-die-for-the-faith-is-a-gift-to-some-to-live-the-faith-is-a-call-to-all-st-john-paul-28-sept-2019 and 20 oct 2019.jpg

“I have a place in God’s counsels,
In God’s world
which no-one else has,
whether I be rich or poor,
despised or esteemed by man,
God knows me
and calls me by my name.
God has created me to do Him
some definite service.
He has committed some work to me,
which He has not committed to another.
I have my mission –
I never may know it in this life
but I shall be told it, in the next.
…Yet, I have a part in this great work,
I am a link in a chain,
…I shall do good,
I shall do His work,
I shall be an angel of peace,
a preacher of truth in my own place
…and serve Him in my calling.”

Saint John Henry Newman (1801-1890)i have a place in god's counsels - world mission sun 20 oct 2019 st john henry newman .jpg


Sunday Reflection – 20 October – One Name That Lives

Sunday Reflection – 20 October – Twenty Ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C and World Mission Sunday

One Name That Lives

By Saint John Henry Newman (1801-1890)

“There is just one Name in the whole world that lives – it is the Name of One who passed His years in obscurity and who died a malefactor’s death.   (Two thousand yeas) have gone by since that time but still It has It’s hold upon the human mind.   It has possessed the world and It maintains possession.   Amid the most various nations, under the most diversified circumstances, in the most cultivated, in the rudest races and intellects, in all classes of society, the Owner of that great Name reigns.   High and low, rich and poor, acknowledge Him.   Millions of souls are conversing with Him, are venturing at His word, are looking for His presence.

Palaces, sumptuous, innumerable, are raised to His honour.   His image, in it’s deepest humiliations, is triumphantly displayed in the proud city, in the open country, at the corners of streets, on the tops of mountains.   It sanctifies the ancestral hall, the closet and the bedchamber, it is the subject for the exercise of the highest genius in the imitative arts.   It is worn next to the heart in life, it is held before the failing eyes in death.

Here, then, is One who is not mere name, He is no empty fiction, He is substance, He is dead and gone but still He lives – as the living, energetic, thought of successive generations and as the awful motive power of a thousand great events ….

O my own Saviour, now in the tomb but soon to arise, You have paid the price – it is done – consummatum est – it is secured.

O fulfil Your Resurrection in us and as You have purchased us, claim us, take possession of us, make us Thine.”


Holy God, we praise Thy Name!o fulfil your resurrection in us - st john henry newman 20 oct 2019.jpg


One Minute Reflection – 20 October – ‘Will the Lord “find faith upon the earth” when He returns?

One Minute Reflection – 20 October – Twenty Ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C, Gospel: Luke 18:1–8 and World Mission Sunday

And the Lord said, “Hear what the unrighteous judge says.” … Luke 18:6

REFLECTION – “As He often does, in today’s Gospel, Jesus takes the immoral realities of our world as His point of departure.   Here, it is the corrupt judge, elsewhere, it was the servant who defrauds his master, the prodigal son, the foolish rich man, the glutton, the wicked vineyard owner.
Beginning with what is familiar, Jesus wants to move up to the laws of the Kingdom of God.   Here, as in the parable of the friend knocking at the door at midnight, the point of comparison is the persistence of an importunate but not unjust request.
If even the wicked … then all the more God, who is good. Jesus wants to make utterly clear to us – God wants men to ask Him, even to pester Him.   If God gives man freedom and goes so far as to enter into covenant with him, then He is not merely concerned about human freedom but has bound Himself in a covenant with His partner without giving up His divine freedom – God will always give the petitioner what is best for him, “the good” (Mt 7:11), “the Holy Spirit” (Lk 11:12).   Whoever prays, in the Spirit of Christ, will be listened to without exception (Jn 14:12-14)   And the Gospel adds, “without delay.” God does not hear our prayers at some later date.   He hears and immediately responds with whatever best corresponds to the request.   A request, however, presupposes faith, which is why the Gospel ends with something for us to mull over – will the Lord “find faith upon the earth” when He returns?   It is we, who are listening here and not just anyone, who are being asked this!” … Cardinal Hans Urs von Balthasar (1905-1988)luke 18 6 and the lord said listen to what the unrighteous judge says - whoever prays in the spirit of christ - hans ur von balthasar 20 oct 2019.jpg

PRAYER – All-powerful, eternal God and Father, grant us the grace of Your Spirit and fill us with the light of understanding and love.   May we learn to truly pray and by our prayers to entreat You to bless us in Your goodness and lead us to true faith in Your unfailing love and mercy.   Grant that by the prayers of your Saints we may be strengthened and depend only on You.   Holy Mother, be our protection and our guide  . We make our prayer through Jesus, our Lord with the Holy Spirit, God forever, amen.blessed virgin mary mother of god - pray for us - 5 aug 2018.jpg


Our Morning Offering – 20 October – Unite Me to Thyself

Our Morning Offering – 20 October – Twenty Ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C and World Mission Sunday

Unite Me to Thyself
From In Sinu Jesu
(The Journal of a Priest at Prayer)
Slightly adapted

O my beloved Jesus
unite me to Thyself,
my body to Thy Body,
my blood to Thy Blood,
my soul to Thy Soul,
my heart to Thy Heart,
all that I am,
to all that Thou are,
so as to make me with Thyself, O Jesus,
one with Thou
offered to the glory of Thy Father,
out of love for Thy spouse, the Church …
for the sanctification of Thy priests,
the conversion of sinners,
the intentions of Pope Francis
and in sorrowful reparation
for our innumerable sins.
Amenunite me to thyself - in sinu jesus 29C 20 oct 2019.jpg

Posted in SAINT of the DAY

Saint of the Day – 20 October – Saint Acca (c 660-742)

Saint of the Day – 20 October – Saint Acca (c 660-742) Bishop, Abbot, Missionary, Theologian, Musician – born in c 660 in Northumbria, England and died on 20 October 742 at Whithorn, Galloway, Scotland of natural causes.   Patronage – acca.jpg

During his youth, St Acca first served in the household of Bosa, the future Bishop of York and a student of St Wildrid.   After meeting St Wilfrid (c 633-710), possibly as early as 678, St Acca joined him and accompanied him on his missionary travels.   Later he told his friend, St Bede the Venerable, of their stay at Utrecht with the Saint Archbishop Willibrord, Wilfrid’s old pupil who was carrying on his work of converting continental heathens.   Their missionary journeys together lasted for 13 years.

On the return from their second journey to Rome in 692, Wilfrid was reinstated at Hexham and made Acca the Abbot of St Andrew’s monastery there.   During Wilfrid’s later years, Acca was the older man’s loyal companion, eventually succeeding him in 709 as Abbot and Bishop.

450px-Thst acca
Hexham Abbey

St Acca approached his duties with much energy, in ruling the Diocese and in conducting the services of the church.   He also carried on the work of church building and decorating started by Wilfrid.   St Bede left a glowing account of the work Acca did during the quarter of a century when he led the community at Hexham.  He adorned the church with paintings, sculpture and rich hangings, he gathered sacred relics and built side-chapels to house them, he created a library of godly books, he brought from Kent a skilled teacher of Gregorian chant named Maban, to ensure that the music and liturgy of the church were as fine as any in Europe.

Acca was both an accomplished musician himself and a learned theologian.   St Bede describes Acca as “…a most experienced cantor, most learned in sacred writings …and thoroughly familiar with the rules of ecclesiastical custom.”

He was known also for his encouragement of students by every means in his power.  It was Acca who persuaded Fr Stephen of Ripon, a Priest, to write the Life of St Wilfrid and he lent many materials for the Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum to Bede, who dedicated several of his most important works, especially those dealing with Holy Scripture, to him.

For reasons now unknown Acca either withdrew, or was driven from, his Diocese in 732. Hexham tradition says he became bishop of Whithorn in Galloway, Scotland, while others claim he founded a see on the site of St Andrews, bringing with him relics collected on his Roman tour, including those of St Andrew.   Yet a third account states that having fallen out with the Northumbrian king, Acca went to live in exile in Ireland on a remote coast before returning to Hexham.   St Andrew’s Church in Aycliffe is said to have been once dedicated to Acca.

Acca was buried at Hexham near the east wall of the abbey.   Two finely carved crosses, fragments of one of which still remain, were erected at the head and foot of his grave.   He was revered as a saint immediately after his death.   His body was translated at least three times – in the early 11th century, by Alfred of Westow, sacrist of Durham, in 1154, at the restoration of the church, when the relics of all the Hexham saints were put together in a single shrine and again in 1240.   His feast day is 20 October.   The translation of his relics is commemorated on 19 February.

Remnant of cross that stood at St Acca’s grave, Hexham Abbey

The only surviving writing of St Acca is a letter addressed to Bede and printed in St Bede’s work.

Posted in SAINT of the DAY

Twenty Ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C +2019, World Mission Sunday and Memorials of the Saints – 20 October

Twenty Ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C +2019
World Mission Sunday

St Acca (c 660-742)
St Adelina
St Aderald
St Aidan of Mayo
St Andrew of Crete
St Artemius Megalomartyr
St Barsabias
St Bernard of Bagnorea
St Bradan
St Caprasius of Agen
Blesseds Daudi Okello (c 1902 -1918) & Jildo Irwa (c 1906.-1918) – Martyrs
Biography here:

Bl Gundisalvus of Silos
St Irene
St Leopardo of Osimo
St Lucas Alonso Gorda
St Maria Bertilla Boscardin (1888 – 1922)

St Martha of Cologne
St Maximus of Aquila
St Orora
St Saula of Cologne
St Sindulphus of Rheims

Blessed Tiburcio Arnáiz Muñoz SJ (1865-1926) (Beatified today in the Cathedral of Malaga, Spain) His feast day will be 20 October

St Usthazanes
St Vitalis of Salzburg