Browsing through my feedreader earlier today, I happened across this fascinating web page from Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA), “a national, non-profit, Georgetown University affiliated research center that conducts social scientific studies about the Catholic Church.” Entitled “Frequently Requested Catholic Church Statistics,” it’s a compilation of particularly interesting statistics concerning the Catholic Church dating all the way back to the mid 60’s.
Broken down into “U.S.” and “Worldwide” categories, there is a great deal of interesting material there. The number of graduate-level seminarians, for example are on the rise in both the U.S. and worldwide, as are ordinations — which is good, because the number of priests (diocesan or religious) has been on the decline for some time now. In contrast, while the number of parishes without a resident priest pastor has been steadily increasing in the U.S., it has actually been decreasing elsewhere.
I wish I had a proper statician’s eye, because I know there must be a boatload of intriguing statistics I’m missing altogether. But I was particularly intrigued by this little chart from 2005:
If I’m reading that correctly, it would appear that our percentages are roughly what one would expect, given our Catholic population — perhaps a very slight bit above average — except for permanent deacons, where our 6% is providing much closer to 50% of the world’s permanent deacons. That’s quite something. Perhaps that’s one of the ways we’re dealing with the steady increase in the number of parishes without a resident priest?
Any other particularly intriguing numbers you folks see on here that I’m missing?