India leads the world in the number of vocations to women’s Religious life in the Catholic Church, statistics show.
Asia and Africa made considerable gains in the number of female Religious since 2000, while Europe, Americas and Oceania showed a downward trend, according to Jeff Mirus of Catholic Culture, who analyzed the statistics for the website.
In Asia, India recorded an increase of 9,398 women religious during 2002-2007 while Vietnam added 2,545 more nuns. South Korea and the Philippines increased by about 500.
Three Kerala-based congregations and Blessed Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity were among those showing an upward trend world-wide.
The Franciscan Clarist Congregation, the Congregation of the Mother of Carmel and the Sisters of the Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament continue to attract more members. Another rapidly growing congregation was the Claretian Missionary Sisters.
A decline worldwide has taken place within the Salesian Sisters, the Order of Discalced Carmelites, the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary, the Sisters of Charity of Saints Bartholomea Capitanio and Vincenzia Gerosa and Benedictine Nuns.
Upward trend was noticed all across Africa: Tanzania and the Congo increased by around 1,500 while Nigeria, Madagascar, Kenya and Angola added 500 to 800 more nuns.
The Middle East and the Caribbean also have added more nuns. Women Religious increased in 99 nations since 2000, according to the analysis.
Unfortunately, their gains are not yet quite enough to offset the 4.6 percent decline among women Religious worldwide during 2002-2007.
The greatest loss has taken place in Western nations. Italy had 11,156 less nuns during 2002-2007. The United States lost 10,454 nuns during the period.
Germany and France lost around 6,000 nuns each, followed by Canada and Spain each had 4,000 less women Religious. Ireland, Belgium and the Netherlands in Europe, Argentina, Brazil and Columbia have also lost nuns in hundreds.
Between 1965 and 1995, the United States lost 49 per cent of its female Religious, while the number dropped by 46 per cent in Canada, 44 per cent in France, 48 per cent in German, 43 per cent in Great Britain, 51 per cent in the Netherlands.
All together, there are about 750,000 women religious serving around the world, or approximately one nun for every 9,000 persons.