Numbers, numbers, numbers…

In a nice little bit of not-really-important-news-but-still-news: The Vatican announces the publication of the Statistical Yearbook of the Church for 2008. Compiling these things takes time, so they’re always a year or so behind. Statistical yearbooks, unsurprisingly, are chockfull of numbers. Numbers about all aspects of Church activity. It’s great for people who are fond of making lists and comparing numerical developments.

Of course, in the age of Wikipedia and other comparable Internet resources, some of this data is a bit superfluous. Websites like Catholic Hierarchy and Giga-Catholic Information offer lots of numbers too, and sometimes more up to date than a yearbook can. But they’re not necessarily as complete or attractive as a big fat book, it has to be said.

So, when we talk about the Catholic Church, here is some of what we mean:

1,166,000,000 Catholics

5002 bishops
409,166 priests, of which
274,007 diocesan priests
135,159 regular (or religious) priests

54,641 non-ordained male religious
740,000 female religious

117,024 students at seminaries (both religious and diocesan

Nice numbers, generally indicating an increase, except in Europe and when it comes to male and female religious. But all the rest is steadily going up, and that’s reason for some optimism.