At the end of 2019, 1.34 billion people, or 17.74% of the total population, considered themselves Catholics in the world, according to data published by the Vatican news agency Fides.
This is an increase of 15.4 million compared to 2018, and more than at the end of the previous decade, when 1.18 billion people considered themselves Catholics.
In Europe, the number of Catholics in 2019 decreased by 292,000 to 285.6 million, or about 39.6% of the population. Meanwhile, the number of Catholics in Africa rose by 8.3 million to 251.6 million, or 19.5% of Africa’s population, Fides reports.
In North and South America, the number of Catholics increased by 5.4 million in 2019, reaching 647.2 million or 63.8% of the population.
In Asia, the number of Catholics increased by 1.9 million in 2019, reaching 149 million or 3.3% of the population, while in Oceania the number of Catholics increased by 118,000 to 26.3% of the population.
In 2019, there were 414,336 Catholic priests in the world, which is 271 more than in 2018. However, in Europe, the number of priests fell by 2,608 to 168,328 in 2019, and in the Americas it fell by 690 to 121,693.
Also ten years earlier, in 2009, Fides saw a decline in the number of priests in Europe.