02/21/2013 09:44 am ET

Vatican Reaches Out In Latin America

After his doctor advised him against making grueling transatlantic trips, Pope Benedict XVI faced a dilemma. If the ailing 85-year-old obeyed the advice, he would have to do the almost unthinkable: avoid World Youth Day, a huge jamboree of the young faithful set to take place this July in the most Catholic country in the world, Brazil.

Latin America accounts for 40 percent of the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics, and if temporal concerns such as majority voting have any sway over the cardinals’ conclave, the next pope would certainly come from the region. Brazil and Mexico together account for more than 220 million Catholics; Colombia, meanwhile, has about 40 million faithful.

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