ROME REPORTS - During Sunday's Mass, Pope Francis reminded the faithful that the Church celebrates World Mission Sunday and the love that Blessed Paul VI had for the evangelization.
"And this exhortation is still relevant, it's very relevant! It is important to consider this aspect of Paul VI's pontificate, especially today, when we celebrate the World Mission Day”.
The World Mission Day was established by Pope Pius XI in 1926 as a way to renew the Church's commitment to spreading the Gospel.
On the occasion of the celebration, the Pontifical Mission Societies has released statistics on the situation of the Church's mission around the world.
The report, which is based on data collected on Dec. 31st, 2012, states that of the 7 billion people in the world, more than 1.2 billion are Catholic. Those numbers indicate an increase of 15 million Catholics since last year, the highest increase coming from the Americas with 6.5 million Catholics.
The report also states that while there is an increase of Catholics in the world, the overall percentage has experienced a slight decrease of 0.01%. However, the percentage of Catholics in America and Asia have increased by 0.12% and 0.01%, respectively.
While the Pontifical Mission Societies stated there are decreasing numbers of religious and missionaries, the number of priests has risen by 895, for a total of 414,313 worldwide.
The statistical report concluded stating that the Church continues to thrive in the field of education, with over 60 million students in primary and secondary schools as well as universities. The Catholic Church also boasts over 115,000 charitable and healthcare institutions.