Africa, Asia see boom in Catholic priests as numbers fall in Europe; nuns down 10 pct

The number of Catholic priests in Africa and Asia has shot up over the past decade while decreasing sharply in Europe, mirroring trends in the numbers of Catholic faithful that helped lead to the election of Pope Francis as the first non-European pope in over a millennium.

The Vatican on Monday released statistics on the state of the Catholic Church in the world, showing a 39.5 percent increase in Africa and a 32 percent hike in Asia from 2001-2011. The number of priests in Europe fell by 9 percent. Worldwide, the number of priests was up 2.1 percent.

While the number of nuns also rose in Africa and Asia over the decade, that wasn't enough to avoid a 10 percent global drop, with Europe registering a 22 percent decline.