Geography of the conclave: Who picks the pope, in one map


Pew Research Center

Tuesday's papal conclave has some people speculating that the next pope could, for the first time, hail from a continent that isn't Europe.

There are a number of ways to guess (or not guess) those odds, as Bernhard Warner outlined in a great explainer for Businessweek last week. But one sure influence on the next pope is the rising number of Catholics in Latin America, Africa and Asia: According to Pew, nearly 4 in 10 Catholics live in Latin America and the Caribbean, while only 25 percent live in Europe.

That rising share is not, however, proportionate to the number of cardinal electors from each continent. So if the conclave does choose a non-European pope, it won't be because the cardinals voted along geographic lines.

“The election is not understood in the same framework as the political elections in the United States,” D.C. Archbishop Donald Wuerl told The Post's Jason Horowitz in Rome. There's no campaigning or lobbying, he said -- just the Holy Spirit, which plays "a primary role."

The Post has some more great graphics on the conclave here.

Caitlin Dewey runs The Intersect blog, writing about digital and Internet culture. Before joining the Post, she was an associate online editor at Kiplinger’s Personal Finance.
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