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Benedict hands in the hat: Popes by the numbers

Pope Benedict XVI has sensationally quit as the head of the Catholic church. Crikey intern Callum Denness runs the ruler over the man, the papacy and the religion which is the largest in Australia.

Popes usually hang on to high office with the persistence of politicians — so Pope Benedict XVI’s announcement yesterday that he will retire for health reasons is historically unusual. Benedict, formerly known as Joseph Ratzinger, said he wished to “devotedly serve the holy church of God in the future through a life dedicated to prayer” as he dropped his bombshell.

To mark the papal departure, Crikey has assembled some Pope facts for conversational fodder and to use at pub trivia nights …

0.44: size of the Vatican (in square kilometres).

1: England, Holland, Portugal, Poland, Palestine, Burgundy and Dalmatia have each produced one Pope.

2: Popes to have come from Spain and the North African region.

Popes have come from from Sicily.

Popes have come from Syria.

Popes were German. Eight is also the number of accounts followed by Benedict XVI on Twitter (he recently set up a profile). In case you’re wondering who the Pope would follow on Twitter, the answer is himself, in eight different languages.

13 Popes were French.

15 Popes were Greek.

30 Popes (or 37%) have died martyrs. So Benedict has done pretty well to leave alive.

34: tweets composed by the Pontiff.

39 people have claimed they held the position of Pope, although the Vatican ruled otherwise.

59.9: median age of Catholic bishops in Australia.

61.2: average life span of all known Popes.

71: median age of Catholic brothers in Australia.

74: median age of Catholic sisters in Australia.

78 Popes have been posthumously canonised as saints. John Paul II is on his way after being beatified.

84: Pope JP-2 died in office at this age, on June 4, 2005.

85: current age of Pope Benedict XVI — reportedly only the second Pope to reach this milestone.

194 Popes have come from Italy.

263: number of Popes in total.

598: years since a Pope last resigned (Gregory XII in 1415).

3000: number of civil lawsuits filed against the Catholic Church in the US.

3085: number of Catholic priests in Australia.

708,618 Australian Catholics regularly attend mass.

736,595 students attend Catholic schools in Australia.

900,000: estimated number of ex-Catholics in Australia (data from 2006).

5,439,268 Australians identify as Catholic, according to ABS statistics  — 25.3% of the population. Catholicism is Australia’s largest religion.

1.2 billion: number of Catholics worldwide.

$3 billion: amount of money paid out by the Catholic church in US legal settlements.

CORRECTION: The original version of this article stated Pope John Paul II had been made a saint. While he has been beatified he is yet to enter sainthood.

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  • 1
    PkD
    Posted Tuesday, 12 February 2013 at 2:20 pm | Permalink

    What happens to his infallibility? Does he get to keep it, or is he suddenly mortal? What about his general legal status? I presume being the Pope shields him from legal matters, can he now be subpoenaed?

  • 2
    mikeb
    Posted Tuesday, 12 February 2013 at 2:54 pm | Permalink

    A good move if he thinks that the job is too much for him due to ill health. It’s now time for a pope from the neglected areas of Latin America or Africa. A progressive outlook is what is required, and a move away from the power of cardinals embedded in history and stagnation.

  • 3
    michael crook
    Posted Tuesday, 12 February 2013 at 3:44 pm | Permalink

    you have forgotten the one female pope, Pope Joan.

  • 4
    mikeb
    Posted Tuesday, 12 February 2013 at 3:52 pm | Permalink

    @PkD. I’m no scholar on this but my memory tells me that the Pope is not believed to be infallible by the Catholic Chruch unless a particular doctrine is officially invoked as being infallible (which happens rarely). The concept of infallibility rests with the office not the person so yes, he would lose that. Interesting re the subpoena. I suspect not given that the Vatican is a sovereign state. A foreign court would have no power over it to respond.

  • 5
    mikeb
    Posted Tuesday, 12 February 2013 at 3:54 pm | Permalink

    @michael crook. I had to google “Pope Joan” It seems most believe it is legend rather than fact.

  • 6
    Jackson Harding
    Posted Tuesday, 12 February 2013 at 5:40 pm | Permalink

    Bit high on the martyr count. 30 popes out of 263 makes only 11.4% who where martyrs. Not enough methinks, but still not 30%

    And as to his legal status as asked by PkD, if the example of Gregory XII is any guide he reverts to being a Cardinal Bishop, he’ll revert to Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger. He is too old now to participate in the conclave to select his successor. He would lose any immunity as head of state, but where someone to try and prosecute him for some alleged misdeed I think we can rely on the church to protect him in any way it could.

  • 7
    Paul Johannessen
    Posted Tuesday, 12 February 2013 at 7:32 pm | Permalink

    Pope joins twitter. Cops a shellacking of online abuse. Pope realises he is too out of touch to understand the world anymore. Pope resigns.

  • 8
    Andrew Jameson
    Posted Tuesday, 12 February 2013 at 10:56 pm | Permalink

    There were at least three North African popes - Victor I, Melchiades, and Gelasius I.

  • 9
    iggy648
    Posted Wednesday, 13 February 2013 at 8:12 am | Permalink

    Ex Benedict: I can never get the Hollandaise sauce right

  • 10
    iggy648
    Posted Wednesday, 13 February 2013 at 3:34 pm | Permalink

    @mikeb: I thought they checked to see if he has the appropriate gonads. Because a female snuck in once before. Or did I just see that on QI?

  • 11
    malcolm.grant1
    Posted Wednesday, 13 February 2013 at 5:12 pm | Permalink

    As a recovering Catholic I would like to add my two mites worth.

    Infallibility: This concept only refers to occasions when the Pope is speaking ex cathedra (technically from ‘the chair’). It is technically defined as ‘“when, in the exercise of his office as shepherd and teacher of all Christians, in virtue of his supreme apostolic authority, he defines a doctrine concerning faith or morals to be held by the whole Church”.

    The upshot of this is that only statements about religion can be infallible. A Pope cannot declare that the moon is purple, unless the colour of the moon is a matter of faith.

    The last infallible statement was made by Pope Pius XII in 1950 stating that the Virgin Mary was assumed bodily into Heaven.

    Prosecution of Joseph Ratzinger: The soon-to-be (again) Cardinal has already stated that he will retire first to Castle San Gandolfo and then to a cloistered residence within the Vatican [sic].

    I can hardly see any country being able to convince the new Pope to release Ratzinger for prosecution anywhere in the world, even assuming that there is an extradition treaty in place between that country and the (fictional country of) the Holy See.

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