The number of baptized Catholics worldwide has grown at a faster rate than that of the world’s population, according to Vatican statistics. Although the number of priests has increased globally, the number has decreased slightly in Europe and Oceania, according to the Vatican’s Central Office for Church Statistics. The figures are presented in the “Annuario Pontificio 2016,” the Vatican yearbook, and will appear in the Statistical Yearbook of the Church, which gives detailed figures on the church’s workforce, sacramental life, dioceses and parishes as of Dec. 31, 2014. The number of baptized Catholics reached 1.27 billion or 17.8 percent of the global population, the statistics office reported March 5. Despite the increase of Catholics worldwide, the yearbook noted a “less dynamic” growth of only 2 percent in Europe. While the continent is home to almost 40 percent of the Catholic global population, the percent of the world’s Catholics living in Europe has slowly decreased over the past nine years, it said. However, with the exception of Oceania, the number of baptized Catholics has grown faster than the general population growth on every continent. “The African continent remains without a doubt the one with the highest growth,” the report said; the number of Catholics in Africa increased by 41 percent, while the number of Catholics in Asia grew by 20 percent. The percentage of baptized Catholics as part of the general population remains highest in North and South America where they “make up almost half” of the world’s Catholics, it said.