For centuries, the Catholic church has been a European institution. The vast majority of its followers were in Europe, its enormous power was rooted in European politics and, reflecting this, its popes were European. Even as European missionaries and colonists spread the faith abroad, the church’s center of gravity remained squarely in Europe.
As recently as one century ago, two out of three Catholics were European, according to data from the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life. As of 2010, Europeans have shrunk to just 24 percent of global Catholic population. And yet 53 percent of the church’s Cardinal electors still come from Europe.
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