The number of Catholics in the world and the number of bishops, priests, religious men and seminarians all increased in 2011.
However, the number of women in religious orders has declined worldwide 10 per cent since 2001, according to Vatican statistics.
At the end of 2011, the worldwide Catholic population reached 1.214 billion.
The statistics were contained in the Statistical Yearbook of the Church, which reported worldwide Church figures as of Dec. 31, 2011.
According to the yearbook, the increase in the number of Catholics in Africa (4.3 per cent) and Asia (two per cent) greatly outpaced their regions’ population growth.
At the end of 2011, the largest number of the world’s Catholics (48.8 per cent) were living in the Americas, followed by Europe with 23.5 per cent, Africa with 16 per cent, 10.9 per cent in Asia and 0.8 per cent in Oceania.
The number of priests increased on most continents.
In the Americas, the number of priests remains constant, while in Europe, it has gone down more than nine per cent over the past decade.