Catholic Numbers Rise

People gather at the Seoul Plaza in front of the City Hall in downtown Seoul July 24. Asian Youth Day will coincide with Pope Francis' visit to that country, where he is scheduled to beatify 124 Korean martyrs.

The number of Catholics in the world has increased, with growth registered across all five continents, according to Vatican news agency Fides. The number of Catholics in the world stood at nearly 1.23 billion people, with an overall increase of more than 15 million over the 2013 numbers. The Americas and Africa registered the biggest increases followed by Asia, Europe and Oceania. The world percentage of Catholics stood at 17.49 percent, a decrease of 0.01 percent from 2011. The global number of priests increased by 895 to 414,313. Europe once again registered the largest decrease in priests (-1,375), followed by the Americas (-90) and Oceania (-80). In Africa the number of priests grew by 1,076 and in Asia by 1,364. There was an overall decrease in the number of women religious worldwide, whose numbers dropped by 10,677 to 702,529. Once again Africa and Asia showed increases, while Europe and the Americas showed the biggest decrease in women religious. The number of lay missionaries in the world decreased 19,234 to 362,488. Globally the church runs 71,188 kindergartens, 95,246 primary schools and 43,783 secondary schools. Charity and health care centers in the world run by the church total 115,352.

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