The geography of the papal electorate, in one map

March 12, 2013

Cardinals from around the world gathered in Vatican City on Tuesday to kick off the process of selecting a new pope.

Which means an election is underway. And we don't have to remind you how interested The Fix is in elections!

So where do most of the cardinal electors who choose the pope come from? More than half come from Europe, even though the continent only accounts for 24 percent of the world's Catholic population, as the following map from the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life shows:

This isn't surprising, considering the chuch's geographic centralization of power in the Vatican. What's more, a non-European pope has never been hasn't been elected in centuries, and Pope John Paul II was the first non-Italian pope in centuries.

For more information on how the pope is elected, check out this helpful video we flagged last month. And stay tuned to Washingtonpost.com for the latest on the papal conclave.

Sean Sullivan has covered national politics for The Washington Post since 2012.
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Sean Sullivan · March 12, 2013