Conclave Elects Pope Francis
Pope Francis was elected on Wednesday as the new leader of the Roman Catholic Church. Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio hails from Argentina and becomes the first Latin American pontiff. According to Pew Research Center data on the distribution of the world’s Catholic population, the largest share of the Catholic population (39%) lives in Latin America and the Caribbean.
Resources on Catholicism and the Pope
The Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life has a variety of resources on Catholicism and Pope Benedict XVI, including public opinion polls, research studies, event transcripts and interviews.
Geography of the Conclave: Where Do the Cardinals Come From?
The conclave to elect the next pope will begin on Tuesday, March 12. Half of the cardinal electors gathering at the Vatican are European (52%), while 17% come from Latin America. Latin America has the largest share of the world’s Catholic population (39%), while 24% of Catholics live in Europe.
U.S. Catholics See Sex Abuse as the Church’s Most Important Problem, Charity as Its Most Important Contribution
U.S. Catholics see the scandal over sex abuse by clergy as the most important problem facing the church today and charitable efforts to aid the poor, feed the hungry and heal the sick as the church’s most important contribution.
During Benedict’s Papacy, Religious Observance Among Catholics in Europe Remained Low but Stable
When Benedict XVI was elected pope in 2005, religious observance among Europeans had been in decline for decades, and he set out to stem the tide of secularization. How successful was he? Pew Research polls indicate that during his papacy, religious observance among Catholics in France, Germany, Spain and Italy remained low but fairly stable.
U.S. Catholics Divided On Church’s Direction Under New Pope
As the pontificate of Benedict XVI winds down, three-quarters of American Catholics express a favorable view of the pontiff. Meanwhile, most U.S. Catholics say it would be good if the next pope allows priests to marry. And fully six-in-ten say it would be good if the next pope hails from a developing region like South America, Asia or Africa.
The Global Catholic Population
Over the past century, the number of Catholics worldwide has more than tripled. But the world’s overall population also has risen rapidly from 1910 to 2010. As a result, Catholics have made up a remarkably stable share of all people on Earth, though their geographic distribution has changed substantially.