"VATICAN CITY, 20 FEB 2010 (VIS) - This morning, Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone S.D.B. and Archbishop Fernando Filoni, substitute for General Affairs, presented the Holy Father with the 2010 edition of the "Annuario Pontificio" or pontifical yearbook. Also present were the officials responsible for compiling and printing the volume.
"A note concerning the presentation highlights some of the facts contained in the new volume. In 2009, the Pope erected eight new episcopal sees and one territorial prelature. Furthermore, a territorial prelature was elevated to the rank of diocese, and three prefectures to that of apostolic vicariate. A total of 169 new bishops were appointed.
"The number of Catholics in the world increased from around 1,147 million in 2007 to 1,166 million in 2008, an increase of nineteen million faithful which corresponds to a growth of 1.7 percent.
"The note also indicates that the number of bishops grew between 2007 and 2008 from 4,946 to 5,002. As for priests, both regular and diocesan, their numbers have increased over the last nine years from 405,178 in 2000 to 409,166 in 2008, although their distribution differs considerably from continent to continent. While numbers of priestly vocations are growing in Africa, Asia and America, and remain stationary in Oceania, in Europe they have dropped from 51.5 percent to 47.1 percent of the total.
"Among the pastoral workers who assist bishops and priests in their activities, female religious constitute by far the largest group. In the year 2000 they numbered 801,185 but this figure fell to 739,067 in 2008. They are most heavily represented in Europe and America (respectively, 40.9 percent and 27.5 percent of the total), and the greatest losses were on those continents and in Oceania, while in Africa and Asia their numbers grow by 21.2 percent and 16.4 percent respectively. Although this helps to counterbalance the abovementioned losses it does not cancel them out, the notes says.
"The number of candidates to the priesthood has also grown slightly, from 115,919 in 2007 to 117,024 in 2008. Here too the different continents show a different evolution: Africa, Asia and Oceania grew by, respectively, 3.6 percent, 4.4 percent and 6.5 percent. Europe registered a fall of some 4.3 percent, while the situation in America remained unchanged."