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Monday, February 20, 2006


VATICAN CITY, FEB 18, 2006 (VIS) - This morning, Cardinal Secretary of State Angelo Sodano presented the Holy Father with the 2006 "Annuario Pontificio," or pontifical yearbook, the first of Benedict XVI's pontificate. Also present were Archbishop Leonardo Sandri, substitute for General Affairs, and the officials responsible for compiling and printing the volume.

  A communique regarding the presentation highlights some of the salient facts contained in the new yearbook. In 2005, 15 new episcopal sees were created as well as one metropolitan see, and one apostolic administration; 170 new bishops were also appointed.

  According to statistics for the period 2003-2004, in a world population of 6,388 million, Catholics number 1,098 million. Over this period, the number of faithful increased in absolute terms by 12 million (or 1.1 percent). However, compared with the increase in the world population, which in the same period grew from 6,301 million to 6,388 million, the relative percentage of Catholics dropped from 17,2 percent in 2003 to 17.1 percent in 2004

  In 2004, priests numbered 405,891 (one third of them regular and two thirds diocesan), with their numbers increasing by 441 over the period 2003-2004. However, the distribution of priests differs from continent to continent, with their numbers growing in Africa and Asia, stationary in America and Oceania, and falling in Europe.

  Since 1978, the number of permanent deacons has been growing and in 2004 stood at 32,324, most of them in North America and Europe.

  Numbers of candidates to the priesthood, both diocesan and religious, have increased overall, passing from 112,373 in 2003 to 113,044 in 2004. Vocations are more numerous in Africa and Asia, while in Europe they are falling.
AP/ANNUARIO PONTIFICIO 2006/SODANO                VIS 20060220 (290)

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