Here's an interesting piece from the AP:
The Vatican's office for migrants issued a set of guidelines for priests, nuns and lay groups on preaching Catholicism to Gypsies. Gypsies are also known as Roma and live predominantly in Europe.
"The document said that Gypsies are by nature religious but that they often adopt the main confession of the country in which they live: Lutheran, Reformed, Orthodox, Catholic, Muslim or other. It said Gypsies often turned to non- mainstream Protestant groups, which the Vatican calls "sects."
"This constitutes a rather urgent call to open our arms to a population that, despite everything, constantly yearns to meet God," it said. Since Gypsies are spread out and often move around, the guidelines recommended that lay Catholic communities, rather than traditional parishes that are responsible for specific territorial areas, be mobilized to try to invite Gypsies in."
It is fascinating to see evidence of how seriously the Vatican now takes the laity as responsible for significant portions of the Church's life and mission. In the not so recent past, the unquestioned assumption would simply have been that religious orders would evangelize the Roma.
Of course, it probably also reflects that for several decades, the real impetus for evangelization has come from lay groups such as the charismatic renewal which has sponsored many schools of evangelization or the NeoCatechumenate or the Emmanuel Community which sponsors its wonderful English language School of Missions in Rome. Most religious orders (not all) have placed the proclamation of Christ at the bottom of their priorities since the 1960's.
It is only in the past 10 years that the Congretation for the Evangelization of Peoples started to publish global figures for the 2.7 million "Catechists"in the world as well as priests, bishops. seminarians, and religious.
I'd love to know how they arrive at that figure and who it includes (every volunteer CCD teacher in the world?) but I don't imagine it's very exact.