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Vatican Releases New Statistics: Africa Had Biggest Increase in Catholics, While Numbers Fell in Europe…

The number of lay missionaries and catechists fell dramatically in the Americas, by almost 4,000, compared with modest gains in Africa and Europe and a larger gain of nearly 670 in Asia. 

Africa was the only continent that registered a rise in the number of major seminarians, with a net gain of 187 — Africa also has the largest number of major seminarians overall, with nearly 34,000. In contrast, Asia, Europe, and the Americas had triple-digit losses, while Oceania’s numbers were virtually unchanged. Worldwide, the number of major seminarians fell by nearly 2,000 to around 110,000. 

The total number of minor seminarians rose worldwide, however, with a gain of over 300 to 95,714. Africa again led the pack with a gain of more than 2,000, while Asia hemorrhaged the most with 1,216. 

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The Church operates more than 74,000 kindergartens, nearly 101,000 Catholic primary schools, and 50,000 secondary schools worldwide, according to the data. There are about 2.5 million Catholic high school pupils and 4 million students attending Catholic universities. 

Africa has the largest total number of infant pupils, Catholic primary schools, primary school pupils, and Catholic secondary schools, and the third-most secondary school students out of all the continents, after Europe and Asia. 

The Americas have the largest number of university students in Catholic schools, accounting for more than half of all the Catholic university students in the world. Meanwhile, Asia has the largest number of Catholic high schoolers, with 1.3 million.

Additionally, the Church runs 5,405 hospitals worldwide,15,276 homes for the elderly and needy, and 9,703 orphanages, with Asia making up the largest share of those orphanages.

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