Nineteen Sixty-four is a research blog for the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) at Georgetown University edited by Mark M. Gray. CARA is a non-profit research center that conducts social scientific studies about the Catholic Church. Founded in 1964, CARA has three major dimensions to its mission: to increase the Catholic Church's self understanding; to serve the applied research needs of Church decision-makers; and to advance scholarly research on religion, particularly Catholicism. Follow CARA on Twitter at: caracatholic.


Historical Moment?

Pope Francis, the first pope born in the Americas, has named his first new cardinals and in doing so has potentially made a bit of global history. As of Feb. 22, when the new cardinals are scheduled to be elevated, Europeans will not make up a majority of cardinal electors (i.e., those eligible to select the next pope and the pool from which popes are typically selected). Since 1978, Europe has been at or near 50.0% of cardinal electors at the time of a conclave, however assuming Cardinal O'Brien from Scotland would not participate as an elector in the future as he has retired and undergoing a course of "spiritual renewal, prayer, and penance," the European share will functionally fall to 49.6%.

According to Vatican's most recent estimates in the Annuarium Statisticum Ecclesiae, Europeans represent 23.5% of the Catholic population. By comparison, Catholics in the Americas represent nearly half of the world's Catholic population. As of February, only 27% of cardinal electors will have been born in the Americas (note that Cardinal-elect Ricardo Ezzati Andrello, S.D.B., the Archbishop of Santiago de Chile, was born in Italy).

One current cardinal elector will turn 80 before February. Ten others will do so by the end of 2014. If no new cardinal electors are elevated, the European share of the College's voters will fall to 48% in 2015. In 2012 there were two consistories, however this has been rare historically. The last time this happened prior to 2012 was in 1929.

Globes image courtesy of Ivan McClellan.

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