The Catholic Church in Numbers – 2022

Source: FSSPX News

More baptized people, but a growing scarcity of priestly and religious vocations, is a trend that emerges from the latest issue of the Statistical Yearbook of the Church published by the Holy See.

The data published by the Church in April 2024 were collected throughout the years 2021 and 2022. It is a meticulous process as long as it is tedious, but which provides an exhaustive snapshot of Catholicism. 

That said, and compared to the previous Directory, the number of baptized people increased by around 1% – or 14 million faithful – to reach 1.39 billion at the end of 2022.

As in previous years, the African continent has the highest growth rate: 3% over the period, with the number of faithful increasing from 265 to 273 million. The two American continents, although still remaining a vital part of the Church, are “plateauing.” They recorded an increase of only 0.9% of the faithful. Growth has also slowed down on the Asian continent, where there are 0.6% more baptized people.

Europe – like Oceania – is standing still. The number of faithful in Europe remains almost unchanged, with around 286 million at the end of 2022.

On the other hand, with regard to priests and seminarians, the downward trend observed since 2012 on a global scale continues. Priests numbered 407,872 in 2020, and there are 407,730 at the end of 2022. It is a minimal decline which hides many disparities.

Because, if we consider the number of priests, Africa and Asia show sustained momentum: +3.2% and +1.6% respectively, while the two American continents stagnate and Europe and Oceania regress, recording a decrease of 1.7% and 1.5% respectively.

On the vocations side, the barometer is not looking good either, and confirms the figures observed at the priest level: -1.3% of candidates for the priesthood worldwide.

Here again, the situation is not the same from one continent to another. The number of seminarians is in free fall in Europe (-6%) and to a lesser extent on the American continents (-3.2% ) and Asian continent (-1.2%). Only Africa and Oceania are doing well with a growth rate of vocations amounting to 2.1% and 1.3% respectively.

A similar movement is observed in female vocations, which are in a slighter decline globally compared to male vocations, with Africa and Asia also experiencing a slight increase.

The basic trend remains unchanged compared to previous years. Slowly but inexorably, the center of gravity of the Church will move from the Americas to Africa where the greatest number of Catholics will be concentrated by 2100.