Africa, Asia providing greater share of priests

VATICAN CITY (AP) - The Vatican's annual statistical report says roughly 1-on-5 priests in the world now comes from Africa or Asia.

Those also are the continents where the Roman Catholic church's growth is strongest.

Data released on Tuesday show the number of Catholics in Africa rose by 33 percent in the period from 2000 to 2008, and by 15.6 percent in Asia.

The number of Catholics in Europe increased only 1 percent. And while Europeans in 2000 accounted for nearly 51 percent of the world's priests, eight years later, that figure dropped to 47 percent.

Throughout the world, Catholics by 2008 numbered 1.166 billion, which is 121 million more than in 2000. The percentage of increase was almost in line with that for general population growth worldwide.

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