CARA gets many inquiries from Church agencies and the media about the numbers for vocations, seminary enrollments, priests and vowed religious, parishes, Mass attendance, schools and the Catholic population. Below are some comparative statistics from 1965. Generally, these data reflect the situation at the beginning of the calendar year listed. The sources for this information include The Official Catholic Directory (OCD), the Vatican's Annuarium Statisticum Ecclesiae (ASE), and other CARA research and databases. All data are cross checked as much as possible. For the U.S, the numbers reported here include only figures for those 195 dioceses or eparchies who belong to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. This includes the 50 states, the District of Columbia, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and all U.S. military personnel stationed overseas. Entries reading "--" have no data available at this time and "na" is not applicable.

Following the U.S. and World data tables below CARA provides link to CARA research about other Frequently Asked Questions. For more information about CARA research and statistics, including our national and parish surveys, demographic studies, trend analyses and projections, and focus groups visit CARA Services. For more information about CARA's beginings read the following Review of Religious Research article from 1967 by Francis X. Gannon entitled, "Bridging the Research Gap: CARA, Response to Vatican II." Follow up-to-the-minute updates about CARA research here:

 

 

United States data over time:
Clergy, Religious, and Lay Leaders; Leaders in Formation
1965
1970
1975
1980
1985
1990
1995
2000
2005
2010
2014
Total priests
58,632
59,192
58,909
58,398
57,317
52,124
49,054
45,699
41,399
39,993
38,275
Diocesan priests
35,925
37,272
36,005
35,627
35,052
34,114
32,349
30,607
28,094
27,182
26,265
Religious priests
22,707
21,920
22,904
22,771
22,265
18,010
16,705
15,092
13,305
12,811
12,010
Priestly ordinations
994
805
771
593
533
595
511
442
454
459
494
Graduate-level seminarians
8,325
6,602
5,279
4,197
4,063
3,658
3,172
3,474
3,308
3,483
3,631
Permanent deacons
na 
na
898
4,093
7,204
9,356
10,932
12,378
14,574
16,649
17,464
Permanent deacon candidates
na
na
2,243
2,514
2,263
1,980
2,026
2,497
2,342
2,445
2,018
Religious sisters
179,954
160,931
135,225
126,517
115,386
102,504
90,809
79,814
68,634
57,544
49,883
Religious brothers
12,271
11,623
8,625
7,941
7,544
6,721
6,535
5,662
5,451
4,690
4,318
Lay professional ministers (lay persons; excluding vowed religious)
--
--
--
--
--
--
10,674
17,315
20,379
20,660
21,424
Lay Ecclesial Ministers in parish ministry (most recent survey-based estimates; including vowed religious and other lay persons)
--
--
--
--
--
21,569
29,146
--
30,632
37,929
--
Enrollment in Lay Ecclesial Ministry formation programs
--
--
--
--
10,500
--
21,800
31,168
16,037
17,935
22,791
Parishes and the Catholic Population
1965
1970
1975
1980
1985
1990
1995
2000
2005
2010
2014
Parishes
17,637
18,224
18,515
18,794
19,244
19,620
19,331
19,236
18,891
17,958
17,483
Parishes without a resident priest pastor
549
571
702
791
1,051
1,812
2,161
2,843
3,251
3,353
3,496
Canon 517.2 parishes where a bishop has entrusted the pastoral care of the parish to a deacon or some other person (e.g., a religious sister, religious brother, or other lay person)
na
na
na
na
93
249
314
447
553
469
388
Percentage of diocesan priests active in ministry
94%
90%
88%
85%
84%
80%
76%
74%
70%
68%
68%
Active diocesan priests per parish
2.0
1.8
1.7
1.6
1.5
1.4
1.2
1.2
1.0
1.0
1.0
Catholic population (The Official Catholic Directory; parish-connected Catholics)
46.3m
47.9m
48.7m
50.5m
52.3m
55.7m
57.4m
59.9m
64.8m
65.6m
66.6m
Catholic population (self-identified, survey-based estimate)
48.5m
51.0m
54.5m
56.8m
59.5m
62.4m
65.7m
71.7m
74.0m
74.6m
76.7m
Foreign-born adult Catholics (suvery-based estimate)
--
--
4.7m
4.1m
4.8m
5.6m
7.0m
10.9m
15.8m
13.2m
15.3m
Former Catholic adults: Those raised Catholic (native- and foreign-born) who no longer self-identify as Catholic (suvery-based estimate). As the largest religion in the U.S., Catholicism has the largest number of former members (some later return as reverts). Catholicism has a higher retention rate than most other religions in the U.S. (including all Protestant denominations).
--
--
7.5m
8.6m
8.0m
10.3m
17.3m
17.9m
19.1m
26.8m
32.0m
Religious Education
1965
1970
1975
1980
1985
1990
1995
2000
2005
2010
2014
Primary school-age children in parish religious education
3.448m
4.175m
3.880m
3.417m
3.106m
3.144m
3.287m
3.592m
3.438m
2.952m
2.695m
Secondary school-age teens in parish religious education
1.357m
1.280m
1.009m
959,935
831,331
736,188
749,377
760,644
787,033
656,722
631,943
Catholic elementary schools
10,667
9,366
8,414
8,022
7,764
7,395
6,964
6,793
6,122
5,889
5,399
Students in Catholic elementary schools
4.431m
3.359m
2.557m
2.227m
2.005m
1.983m
1.815m
1.800m
1.559m
1.508m
1.392m
Catholic secondary schools
1,527
1,986
1,624
1,549
1,425
1,324
1,280
1,297
1,325
1,205
1,195
Students in Catholic secondary schools
689,264
1.008m
884,181
838,136
774,216
606,000
638,440
653,723
653,226
611,723
582,785
Catholic colleges and universities
305
279
245
235
243
228
231
230
229
234
225
Students in Catholic colleges and universities
409,471
411,111
432,597
536,799
545,461
619,300
653,927
683,768
752,718
783,407
787,574
Sacraments and Rites
1965
1970
1975
1980
1985
1990
1995
2000
2005
2010
2014
Baptisms of infants in previous year. The number of infant baptisms year-to-year is closely correlated to the number of births.
1.310m
1.089m
894,992
943,632
953,323
986,308
981,444
996,199
929,545
806,138
713,302
Baptisms of other minors in previous year
--
--
--
--
--
--
--
--
--
60,927
64,121
Baptisms of adults in previous year
126,209
84,534
80,035
88,942
87,996
85,600
66,886
77,578
76,605
41,600
38,042
Receptions into full communion in previous year
--
--
--
--
--
--
76,176
95,003
73,402
70,318
66,413
Confirmations in previous year
--
--
--
--
--
491,360
555,767
630,465
610,282
597,402
568,344
First Communions in previous year
--
--
--
--
--
849,919
794,576
881,321
807,066
802,300
758,034
Marriages in previous year
352,458
426,309
369,133
350,745
348,300
326,079
294,144
261,626
207,112
168,400
154,450
Funerals in previous year
387,739
417,779
406,497
417,047
446,822
452,526
455,477
472,789
445,616
417,387
402,632
Mass Attendance. Prior to 2000, CARA reports Gallup estimates of the % attending in any given week adjusted for the effects of social desirability bias. From 2000 on the data are from the CARA Catholic Poll (CCP) and represents the % of U.S.adult Catholics who say they attended Mass every week. For more background information on measurement, see: The Nuances of Accurately Measuring Mass Attendance.
55%
48%
42%
41%
41%
39%
35%
22%
23%
24%
24%
Social and Health Services
1965
1970
1975
1980
1985
1990
1995
2000
2005
2010
2014
Catholic hospitals
800
727
657
642
631
633
600
594
571
553
549
Patients served in Catholic hospitals in previous year
16.9m
21.5m
29.9m
36.5m
36.6m
43.4m
56.4m
79.0m
84.7m
89.9m
88.8m
Value of services provided by Catholic Charities in previous year
--
--
$361m
--
$514m
$1.150b
$1.655b
$1.968b
$2.696b
$3.818b
$3.696b
Persons served by Catholic Charities in previous year
--
--
--
2.452m
4.146m
9.123m
11.129m
9.530m
12.007m
9.165m
9.035m
Note: The Official Catholic Directory, from which the sacraments data is drawn, is based on the state of the Church as of January 1 of the year it is published. The data in these volumes is collected in the previous year. Sacramental numbers represent totals from the year prior to this data collection year. Thus, the 2014 OCD sacraments totals were collected in 2013 and represent the previous year (i.e., 2012).

 

World data over time:

 
1970
1975
1980
1985
1990
1995
2000
2005
2010
2014
Total priests
419,728
404,783
413,600
403,480
403,173
404,750
405,178
406,411
412,236
414,313
Diocesan priests
270,924
259,331
257,409
253,319
257,696
262,418
265,781
269,762
277,009
279,561
Religious priests
148,804
145,452
156,191
150,161
145,477
142,332
139,397
136,649
135,227
134,752
Diocesan priestly ordinations
4,622
4,140
3,860
4,822
5,938
6,444
6,814
6,614
6,863
6,577
Graduate-level seminarians
--
24,183
33,731
43,476
51,603
54,154
55,968
58,538
58,140
56,924
Permanent deacons
309
2,686
7,654
12,541
17,525
22,390
27,824
33,391
39,564
42,104
Religious sisters
1,004,304
968,526
960,991
917,432
882,111
837,961
801,185
760,529
721,935
705,529
Religious brothers
79,408
70,388
73,090
65,208
62,526
59,515
55,057
54,708
54,665
55,314
Parishes
191,398
200,116
206,503
212,021
215,805
220,077
218,196
217,616
221,055
221,740
Parishes without a resident priest pastor
39,431
46,074
50,469
55,343
57,664
60,705
55,729
52,509
49,172
49,153
Canon 517.2 parishes where a bishop has entrusted the pastoral care of the parish to a deacon or some other person (e.g., a religious sister, religious brother, or other lay person)
na
na
na
1,635
3,786
3,278
3,373
3,122
3,819
3,485
Catholic population
653.6m
709.6m
783.7m
852.0m
928.5m
989.4m
1.045b
1.115b
1.196b
1.229b
Percent of world population
18%
17%
18%
18%
18%
17%
17%
17%
18%
17%
Catholic elementary schools
89,112
79,424
75,454
78,160
78,548
85,043
89,457
91,480
92,847
95,246
Students in Catholic elementary schools
20.396m
19.584m
20.661m
22.390m
24.145m
25.246m
26.097m
28.084m
31.151m
32.300m
Catholic secondary schools
25,552
27,542
29,637
30,404
31,200
33,349
35,559
39,096
43,591
43,783
Students in Catholic secondary schools
7.667m
9.522m
11.015m
12.066m
12.441m
13.232m
14.027m
16.232m
17.794m
18.869m
Baptisms of infants to age 7
14.795m
15.553m
16.410m
16.119m
16.252m
15.867m
15.690m
14.448m
14.283m
13.713m
Baptisms of those ages 8 and older
1.120m
990,727
1.131m
1.580m
1.879m
2.173m
2.718m
2.554m
2.667m
2.696m
Marriages between two Catholics
3.306m
3.725m
3.821m
3.707m
3.633m
3.322m
3.433m
2.791m
2.712m
2.486m
Marriages between a Catholic and a non-Catholic
360,466
353,702
335,802
328,457
347,206
311,287
297,915
262,230
247,228
243,540
Confirmations
--
--
--
--
8.033m
8.493m
9.257m
8.878m
8.793m
8.583m
First Communions
--
--
--
--
11.329m
11.600m
12.237m
11.611m
10.728m
10.551m
Catholic hospitals
--
--
6,700
6,056
5,675
5,482
5,853
5,246
5,305
5,167
Catholic orphanages
--
--
6,185
6,988
6,650
7,554
8,695
9,616
9,882
10,124
Mass attendance (by selected country click here)
--
--
--
--
--
--
--
--
--
--
Note: The ASE, upon which the world data above is based, is released two years after the most current year measured. Thus, the ASE 2012, which was released in 2014, represents 2012 totals. All previous years in the world table above measure the actual year listed. For 2014, there are no more current world data sources available.

 

Additional Frequently Asked Questions