Pew Study: Pope Francis Has Made College of Cardinals ‘Less European’

Once the new appointees are installed, Europe will have seen its share shrink to 40%, down from 52% in 2013, when Pope Francis was elected.

A consistory for the creation of new cardinals in St. Peter’s Basilica is underway on Oct. 5, 2019.
A consistory for the creation of new cardinals in St. Peter’s Basilica is underway on Oct. 5, 2019. (photo: Daniel Ibáñez / CNA)

Pope Francis’ picks for the College of Cardinals have made the body “less European,” giving a greater voice to developing nations in Africa, Asia, and Latin America, a new analysis shows.

The Pew Research Center report focused on the 83 cardinals appointed by the Argentinian Pope now under the age of 80 who are eligible to vote in a papal conclave.

Those appointees, 16 of whom won’t be installed until Aug. 27, currently make up a majority (63%) of the 132 voting-age cardinals. Francis’ predecessors, Pope St. John Paul II and Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, appointed the remaining cardinals.

Europeans account for the plurality of Pope Francis’ voting-age appointees — 28, or 34% of the total, the most of any region. But once the new appointees are installed, Europe will have seen its share shrink to 40%, down from 52% in 2013 wh,en Pope Francis was elected.

Meanwhile, other parts of the world have gained ground, led by the Asia-Pacific region, whose overall representation of voting-age cardinals has risen from 9% in 2013 to 17% in 2022, the analysis shows.

Sub-Saharan Africa is on the upswing, as well, rising from 9% to 12%. Latin America and the Caribbean has had a more modest gain, rising from 16% to 18%.

Pew reported: “Of the 83 newly appointed or currently eligible voting cardinals Francis has named so far during his papacy, 34% are from Europe, 22% from the Asia-Pacific region, 20% from Latin America and the Caribbean, 13% from sub-Saharan Africa, 8% from North America and 2% from the Middle East-North Africa region.” 

Jacopo Vignali, “Pentecost,” 1648

Pentecost Sunday and the New Cardinals (June 4)

Happy Birthday, Church! Pentecost Sunday is here. And given current events, there is a need now more than ever to celebrate the Holy Spirit’s constant presence in the Catholic Church. To help us prepare for Pentecost we’ve invite Scripture Scholar John Bergsma back to Register Radio. And then, we catch up with Edward Pentin with insights on the new cardinals.