World

How many Roman Catholics are there in the world?

  • 14 March 2013
  • From the section World

There are an estimated 1.2 billion Roman Catholics in the world, according to Vatican figures. More than 40% of the world's Catholics live in Latin America - but Africa has seen the biggest growth in Catholic congregations in recent years.

Catholics in the world - shows percentage catholics by continent: L America 41.3%, Europe 23.7, Africa 15.2, Asia 11.7, N America 7.3, Oceania 0.8%

Latin America accounts for 483 million Catholics, or 41.3% of the total Catholic population. Of the 10 countries in the world with the most Catholics, four are in Latin America. Brazil has the highest Catholic population of any country. The figure was put at 123 million in the last Brazilian census and as high as 150 million in 2010 figures compiled by the World Christian Database. Italy has the most Catholics in Europe, with 57 million, while DR Congo has the biggest Catholic population in Africa, ranking ninth in the world with almost 36 million.

Global shift

Since 1970, Catholicism has seen a global shift southwards - the proportion of Catholics living in Europe has declined, while Africa has seen a growth in the number of Catholics - from 45 million in 1970 to 176 million in 2012. Asia has also seen a growth in Catholicism and now represents almost 12% of the total Catholic population in the world, or 137 million people.

Growing no. catholics in Africa, up from 6.8% in 1970 to 15.2% in 2012/declining population in Europe, from 38.5 to 23.7%