Thursday, March 14, 2013

Maps of Catholicism Worldwide

No, I’m not showing any maps—but I am pointing to them. Here is the first link. It is one provided by the National Geographic and entitled “Map: The Roman Catholic Diaspora.” I suggest looking at the three maps there before reading on, one each for 1900, 1970, and 2010. A tab to the left and under the map lets you go forward and backward in time.

It is fascinating to see how the demographic center-point of Catholicism has shifted between 1900 and 2010. In 1900 Europe represented 67 percent of the global Catholic population; in 2010 it had declined to less than 24 percent. As Europe’s share declined, that of Africa and Latin America rose, so that in 2010 Latin America represented 41 percent of all Catholics, the new center-point of Catholicism. The Conclave of Cardinals this year for the first time reflected the facts on the ground and elevated a Latin American Archbishop to the Papacy. With a lag, always, demography rules.

Another view of this situation is provided by a map taken from the 2003 Encyclopedia Britannica by Mapsorama.com (link). It shows countries colored by the predominant religion in each—together with a chart suggesting increase world-wide of selected faiths by 2050 as projected by World Christian Trends. What this map shows is the diversity of the world of faith—but it also gives the nod to the Conclave, which gave the nod to Pope Francis.

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