Africa Fueling Growth

In Catholic Numbers

The total number of baptized Catholics worldwide has risen to 1.061 billion, with the greatest increase on the continent of Africa, according to the Pontifical Yearbook for 2003, which the Vatican issued Feb. 8.

The number of baptized Catholics rose from 757 million in 1978 to 1.061 billion by the end of 2001, the yearbook said. This included a 148 percent increase in Africa as well as growth in Asia, the Americas and Oceania. Church membership in Europe remained stable.

The yearbook reported that in 2001 there were 4,649 bishops, 405,067 priests, 29,204 deacons, 54,970 monks and friars, 792,317 nuns in active life and 51,973 in contemplative life, 31,512 members of secular institutions, 139,078 lay missionaries and 2,813,252 teachers of the catechism.

Pope John Paul II appointed an additional 158 bishops during 2002, the yearbook said.

The total number of priests dropped by 111 because of a decline in members of religious orders, which was partially offset by a marked rise in the number of diocesan priests. The number of priests who belong to religious orders fell from 139,397 in 2000 to 138,619 in 2001, while the number of diocesan or parish priests rose by 667. From 2000 to 2001, the number of candidates for the priesthood rose 1.5 percent, to 112,244, according to the yearbook. It said there were more candidates from Asia, Africa and the Americas in 2001 but fewer from Europe and Oceania.

-- Religion News Service

Gandhi Grandson

To Head Alliance

The grandson of Indian peace activist Mohandas K. "Mahatma" Gandhi has been named chairman of the board of directors at the Interfaith Alliance.

Arun Gandhi will lead the Washington-based group, which lobbies for religious freedom and interfaith understanding. Gandhi, a prolific author, is the co-founder of the M.K. Gandhi Institute for Nonviolence in Memphis.

Gandhi also is a leader in Soulforce, an ecumenical gay rights group.

At the Interfaith Alliance, he is succeeding retired Episcopal Bishop Jane Holmes Dixon of Washington, who will remain on the board.

-- Religion News Service

Protestant Clergy

Low on Pay Scale

Pay for Protestant clergy in the United States has increased faster than inflation in the last 25 years, but the economic picture is still tough for many pastors, according to a survey conducted by Duke University's Divinity School.

Median pay, including housing allocations, is $40,000, similar to that of teachers and social workers, the survey found.

About 60 percent of Protestant pastors serve small churches, with average attendance of 100 or less. Among them, clergy in centralized denominations -- those with recommended salary scales, such as the Episcopal, Methodist and Presbyterian churches -- receive a median of $36,000. Those in groups with congregational governments -- Baptist and United Church of Christ -- receive a median of $22,300.

Among black Protestant pastors, 41 percent make less than $13,000, although half of those pastors minister only part time.

-- Associated Press

Scholar Will Head

Leading English See

The Rev. N. Thomas Wright, a prominent New Testament scholar who has spoken at Washington National Cathedral and other area churches, was named Tuesday as the new bishop of Durham, the fourth-ranking post in the Church of England.

Wright, the canon theologian of Westminster Abbey since 2000, defends conservative views on the historical reliability of the New Testament. He is a much-traveled lecturer and author of more than 30 books on Christian beliefs, both scholarly and popular.

The Durham post, which Wright will assume April 30, has had a long tradition of scholar-bishops with intellectual influence. The diocese ranks behind Canterbury, York and London among English sees, and its bishop sits in Parliament's House of Lords.

-- Associated Press