As this article from the Catholic News Agency notes, the growth has been good, and recently, even better.
“Vatican City, Feb 11, 2011 / 05:35 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- There are more than 5,000 more Catholic priests globally in 2009 than there were in 1999, according to official Church statistics.
“The Vatican’s L’Osservatore Romano newspaper anticipated the news from the soon-to-be released 2009 almanac prepared by the Vatican’s Central Office of Church Statistics.
“The statistics reveal that there were 410,593 priests in the world in 2009 compared to 405,009 in 1999. The number of diocesan priests among these increased by over 10,000 while the number of those belonging to religious orders fell by nearly 5,000.
“In North America, as well as Europe and Oceania, the numbers decreased for both diocesan and religious priests. Africa and Asia, however, brought up the overall figures with a more than 30 percent increase on both continents.
“Europe still has nearly half of the world’s priests, but the “old continent” is gradually losing weight on the world stage.”