This is an up-to-date reference work that provides demographic information about the Roman Catholic Church, published for the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate by Orbis Books. Many tables provide data for the years 1900, 1950, and 2000, in order to present an overview of the Catholic Church for the last century. Other tables present more detailed information that is available for 1975 and 2000. Since data for religious populations are infamous for shifting definitions of categories and even using estimations, the authors provide cautions where such are needed. Bryan Froehle is the executive director and Mary Gautier senior research associate at CARA.
Chapter 1 provides a continent-by-continent overview of populations and trends in baptisms, confirmations, and church marriages. One could question the decision to combine data from North America and South America into a common "America" category in the tables. Chapter 2 provides global statistics on dioceses and eparchies, parishes, schools, etc., again continent by continent. Chapter 3 focuses on church personnel, including the number of Catholics per priest, the number of diocesan priests per diocesan seminarian (a figure useful for projecting growth or decline in the provision of secular clergy), permanent deacons (half of which are in North America), male religious, and female religious. Interestingly, 42% of the male religious in Africa are Brothers, as are 45% in the Pacific Oceania. Women religious comprise 62% of church personnel who are either ordained or under vows. The population of vowed women is in decline in the first world and increasing in the third world.
Chapters 4 through 8 focus separately on Africa, America, Asia, Europe, and Oceania. For each of these, tables provide infra-continental regional data for 1975 and 2000. In Chapter 5, the regional tables include one comparing Catholic and Evangelical baptisms in Latin America. Chapter 9 provides something of a summary, adding comparisons of the "rich world" and the "rest of the world."
Particularly useful are the four Appendices. Appendix I discusses the major statistical sources, giving a history of the statistical reporting of the Catholic Church. It also includes the notes to the chapters. Appendix II defines ecclesiastical and demographic terms. Appendix III is a table of summary 2000 population data for the individual countries, in order by size of the Catholic populations. Appendix IV is an extensive set of separate profiles for countries and territories, tallying the basic data for each of them. These include not only the ecclesistical information but also such information as the oldest diocese, the land mass, the primary language(s), primary religion(s), national population, fertility rate, infant mortality rate, life expectancy, literacy rate, and purchasing power per capita for each nation. While not every nation is included, given the small size and unavailability of data for some, fully 192 are included.
This is a useful reference work that belongs in every college or university's and every diocese's library.