Among all extant countries without a priest currently serving as cardinal, which one has the greatest population of Roman Catholics?

And among all extant countries that have never had a priest appointed cardinal, which one has the greatest population of Roman Catholics?


1 Answer 1


The 24 nations with the largest Catholic populations all are currently represented by cardinals.

Of all nations without cardinals, Bolivia has the largest Catholic population. About 8 million of its 10.5 million people (75%) are Catholic. It has been represented by two cardinals in the past. Guatemala is second in terms of Catholic population, but it has also been represented in the past. Paraguay, with about 6 million Catholics out of 6.8 million people (90%), is third and has never been represented by any cardinals.

It may also interest you to note the nation with the highest proportion of Catholics and no cardinal. Aside from the Vatican, that honor belongs to East Timor, formerly a part of Indonesia (which has had cardinals in the past), with about 97% of its one million people being Catholic.

I primarily used the tables in Wikipedia's list of living cardinals and Catholicism by country articles, but both tables required a little bit of massaging. The spreadsheet I created is available for download here.

  • 2
    Very minor point, perhaps splitting hairs, but does saying that countries are "represented" by cardinals risk misrepresenting cardinals roles, as cardinals. As Bishops, Archbishops or Primates they maybe said to represent certain geographies, but are not all cardinals universal? I am unsure.
    – davidlol
    Feb 14, 2016 at 0:52

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