The number of Roman Catholics in the world edged up 1 percent in 2009, the Vatican said, bringing membership to 1.18 billion. The statistics appear in the latest edition of the Vatican's Annuario Pontificio (pontifical yearbook).
About half of the world's Roman Catholics live in North and South America, with 24 percent found in Europe, 15 percent in Africa and nearly 11 percent in Asia. Growth in the number of priests was modest: less than 0.2 percent. Still, the net gain of 809 priests was the biggest single-year increase in the number of clergy since 1999.
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