The world’s most Catholic country by population is Brazil, with 172 million Catholics.

The world’s Catholic population has grown to 1.285 billion, having surged by seven per cent in five years.

The Church in Africa has grown significantly, while other continents such as Europe face chronic priest shortages, the Vatican announced yesterday, according to the Catholic Herald.

The latest statistics from the Vatican say the Catholic Church grew in Africa by 19.4 per cent from 2010 to 2015. In the same period across the globe, the Catholic population grew by 7.4 per cent. The global number of baptised Catholics grew by one per cent in 2015.

The world’s most Catholic country by population is Brazil, with 172 million Catholics. Behind it come Mexico, the Philippines, the US, Italy, France, Colombia, Spain, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Argentina as the most populous Catholic nations.

Nearly 49 per cent of the world’s Catholics live in North or South America, while 22.2 per cent reside in Europe, 17.3 per cent in Africa and 11 per cent in Asia. Less than one per cent of Catholics make their home in Oceania and the South Pacific.

In 2015 there were an average of 3,091 Catholics per priest across the world, compared with 2,900 for every priest in in 2010.

The number of diocesan priests has grown from 2010 to 2015, but the number of priests belonging to religious orders fell in the same period. The numbers of both has risen in Africa, while Europe lost 2,502 priests in one year.

‘After reaching its highest in 2011, the number of seminarians has been undergoing a gradual contraction,’ the Vatican said. ‘The only exception is Africa, which does not seem affected by the vocation crisis for the moment and will remain the region with the greatest potential.’


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