VATICAN CITY, April 9 (RNS) -- The number of Roman Catholics worldwide rose by 1.6 percent in 1999 to a total of 1.038 billion, making up 17.4 percent of the world's population, the Vatican reported Monday (April 9).

The figures were contained in the Pontifical Yearbook for 2001, which Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Vatican secretary of state, and Vatican statisticians presented to Pope John Paul II.

In a separate report issued Saturday (April 7), the Vatican said during 2000, the pope donated almost $7 million in humanitarian and development aid.

The Pontifical Council Cor Unum gave $1,027,800 to help victims of natural and man-made disasters in 29 countries and $888,805 to promote human development in 35 countries.

In addition, the John Paul II Foundation for the Sahel distributed $2,992,097 to support 312 development projects in sub-Saharan Africa, and the Foundation Populorum Progressio gave $1,923,500 for 209 projects in Latin America.

The Vatican said that its latest statistics, which were for 1999, showed that the rise in the Catholic population was just above the total world population rise of about 1.4 percent, and the percentage of Catholics remained virtually constant.

The yearbook showed that almost half the total of baptized Catholics live in the Americas, 27.3 percent in Europe, 12 percent in Africa, 10.4 percent in Asia and 0.8 percent in Oceania.

There were 4,482 bishops worldwide, 405,009 priests, 26,629 permanent deacons, 55,428 nonordained members of men's religious orders, 809,351 nuns, 31,049 members of secular institutes, 80,662 lay missionaries and 2,449,659 teachers of the catechism, according to the yearbook.

The Vatican said the number of priests rose by 383 with an increase of 810 diocesan priests and decrease of 427 priests belonging to religious orders. Of the total, 52 percent of priests were in Europe.

The yearbook said the Holy See has diplomatic relations with 174 countries.

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