The number of Catholics in the world edged up 1% in 2009, the Vatican says, bringing to 1.18 billion the number of adherents of the world’s largest church, about one in five of the global population.

The statistics appear in the latest edition of the Vatican’s Annuario Pontificio, or pontifical yearbook, which was presented to Pope Benedict XVI on Saturday.

About half of the world’s Catholics live in North and South America, with 24% found in Europe, 15% in Africa and nearly 11% in Asia.

The number of bishops increased along with their flock, by about 1%, from 5,002 to 5,065.

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