'The Pope - How Many Divisions Does He Have?' A First Global Survey of World Catholicism Based on the 'World Values Survey' and the 'European Social Survey' ('El Papa ¿Cuántas Divisiones Tiene? Sondeo Global Del Catolicismo Mundial Según El 'World Values Survey' Y El 'European Social Survey')

Centro Argentino De Estudios Internacionales e-Book No. 49

363 Pages Posted: 18 Feb 2011 Last revised: 7 Feb 2014

See all articles by Arno Tausch

Arno Tausch

University of the Free State, Department of Political Studies and Governance; University of Innsbruck - Department of Political Science

Date Written: February 17, 2011


This empirical study about global Catholicism, based on the data of the World Values Survey and the European Social Survey, starts with a philosophical introduction by Christian Ghymers (Brussels) on the Roman Catholic Church and Enlightenment. The essence of Ghymers' proposal to democratize the Roman Catholic Church - the ultima ratio of this book - is based on the ideas of the precursor of the emancipation of Latin America, Francisco de Miranda.

According to figures from the World Values Survey, a total of 8.4% of Catholics are prepared to even sacrifice their life for their religion, and 11.1% of global Catholics also attend Mass more than once a week, while 31.4% attend Mass at least once a week and another 15.7% attend Mass at least once a month. The most devout Catholic communities are to be found in India, Nigeria and Tanzania. The lowest religious service attendance rates are found in France, Latvia and Uruguay

Yes, there is a Catholic Church in which high-income people are much more represented among those who attend mass on Sunday at least once a month than in the average of society, and these national Catholic churches are found in Bosnia - Herzegovina (2001), Singapore (2002), Germany (1999), and Britain (1999), while there is also a Catholic Church of the poor (people with low incomes), who are (much) more represented among the regular religious service participants than among the total population (in descending order): Latvia (1999), Czech Republic (1999), Lithuania (1999), Spain (2000), and Slovenia (1999).

We then demonstrate empirically that liberation theology as a phenomenon of left-wing Catholicism is now virtually disappearing worldwide, and that liberation theology ends with the end of the social movement that has represented it. We then estimate that practicing global Catholics amount to a milieu of some 340 million human who want to severely restrict or prohibit migration, 298 million human beings who reject gay neighbors, 292 million who do not accept a single mother and 170 million people who in one way or another favor the use of violence for political ends. Our empirical research shows that from the point of view of the sociology of religion, there are four types and extremes of Catholicism, all anti-democratic, but in conflict with each other, and self-contradictory:

• anti-democratic forces and the xenophobic plebeian low income and education segment. • a Catholic left, which is not xenophobic, but which is extremely susceptible to the temptations of anti-democratic attitudes and has no real roots in the poorest strata of the population, but among the lower middle class of Catholic skilled workers. • The strongly xenophobic upper strata, which are highly educated, and who practice every Sunday, but who completely distrust the Church as an institution and also complete distrust the armed forces, which in most Catholic countries nowadays solidly support the new democratic institutions after the military regimes of the 60, 70 and 80, and finally • the old classical Catholic right-wing upper class, which prefers Army rule, but at least it is not susceptible of xenophobia.

In addition, in South Africa (2001), Slovenia (1999), the Czech Republic (1991), and many other countries, Catholics had a stronger tendency to be anti-Semitic than overall society. We also analyzed the size and the weight of the different phobias among the global practicing Catholics (practicing at least on a monthly basis) by applying factor analysis. Islamophobia comes first, in close relation to racism and rejection of immigrants. Our macro-quantitative multiple regression model of the determinants of Catholic anti-Semitism with World Values Survey data shows that the relative degree of anti-Semitism among practicing Catholics compared to society as a whole seems to suggest that there are two variables that contribute to and in a way trigger excessively this phenomenon. Predictor number 1 is the societal homicide rate as an indicator of the crime situation. Predictor number 2 is the monetary freedom indicator, developed by the Heritage Foundation in the United States. This is a clear indicator of neo-liberal economic policies. These two variables trigger almost 2/5 of the specific catholicness of anti-Semitism. Why? It appears that the culture of Catholicism practiced in the world today is looking anew for "scapegoats" for the current ills of modern society, crime and financial insecurity, the latter caused by the liberalization of financial markets in the 1980s and 1990s.

We also try to develop in this book an index of liberal Catholicism, compatible with the Enlightenment, again using results for practicing Catholics from the polls from the World Values Survey at the national level. According to our figures, the most enlightened Catholicisms of the world are to be found in the following 10 countries: Italy; Austria; Croatia; Germany; Albania; Switzerland; United States; Spain; Malta; and Ireland.

One of the most surprising results of our comparison in European countries with available data from the European Social Survey is that the percentage of people, who have little or no confidence in the democratic system, is larger among practicing Catholics than among European Muslims. In Slovenia, this difference is more than 10%, in Belgium and Switzerland this percentage is between 5 and 10% higher than among the resident Muslims; and also in Spain, Austria, United Kingdom and the Netherlands distrust in democracy is higher among practicing Catholics than among resident Muslims. We also present the first empirical comparison in world social science literature about the global rejection of democracy by religious denomination, religious practice and political orientation. Our results inmply a critique of the political practice of radical Catholics both on the extreme right and the extreme left in recent years.

Finally, we also constructed an index of the adaptation of all the practitioners of all religions towards the secular, modern and democratic, constitutional state. Despite the fact that most Muslim countries are poorer than most Catholic countries, Catholicism and Islam practiced worldwide are almost indistinguishable on our secular modern democratic value scale.

Harvard economist Professor Robert Barro investigated in recent years the close relationship between religious believe structures and economic growth. In our chapter on Catholicism and world development, we continue research in this tradition and we tried to establish empirical relationships between empirically observable structures of Catholicism and world development. We present our multiple regression results in a language that is understandable also for non-economists. Current research in the theory of global economic growth and development determines the size of the effect of independent variables ("drivers of economic growth", "drivers of inequality") on the rate of long-term growth/rate of economic inequality, etc., by investigating not only the explanatory power of economic variables and policies, but also institutions, the climate, the penetration of a country by foreign capital, the rate of military personnel per population, religious structures and so on. Many explanatory variables enter then into a regression of a "kitchen sink" type (this term was used, among others by the econometrician Durlauf, 2008) of all possible explanations of economic growth and economic performance, and not all variables, which went 'down the sink', have a significant effect. Only the ones weeded out by the 'filter' of statistical significance.

We start with one of the most interesting results: while health expenditures per capita in a society significantly determine if a country has a liberal Catholic environment, is committed to democracy, it is also clear that Catholic elitism, characteristic of a society where practicing Catholics enjoy a much higher level of education than the society around them, is one of the main reasons for the lack of a Catholic liberal and democratic political and intellectual climate. Besides, it is quite clear that the density of Cardinals as a reasonably reliable sign of the close axis between the local Church and the Rome center prevents the development of liberal Catholicism, while the goal number 1 of existing political feminism around the globe, i.e. equating female earnings to male earnings, also has a negative effect on the development of liberal Catholicism. That is feminism greatly polarizes Catholic structures, especially in the more developed world.

Our results on the determinants of the rate of long-term economic growth are well supported by the research results of the neo-liberal quantitative German sociologist Erich Weede, and they also corroborate or rather qualify recent results by Robert Barro. The rate of religious practice on Sunday and the rate of military personnel per capita have a positive effect on the rate of economic growth, stressing the factors of trust in religious institutions (Sunday Mass) and the modernization and identification of youth with the country and the armed forces (military personnel rate) for economic growth. Besides, it is worth mentioning that a very strong Catholic left is absolutely incompatible with very rapid capitalist development, especially because its values of immediate justice, etc. are irreconcilable with a "Calvinist" long-term accumulation of savings, the accumulation of capital and general trust in the institutions of property. Apart from that, some socio-liberal theories of growth (Tausch/Prager, 1993) received support - the female activity rate has a significant and positive effect on the rate of economic growth.

We ultimately believe that a key to understanding the dangers of a return of the Catholic Church towards pre-Vatican II structures is the total misunderstanding among many Catholicsd of the historic positive contribution of Free Masonry to the liberal political culture of the countries of the world.

Note: Downloadable document is in Spanish.

Keywords: Index Numbers and Aggregation, International Relations and International Political Economy, Religion, Bureaucracy, Administrative Processes in Public Organizations, Corruption

JEL Classification: C43, F5, Z12, D73

Suggested Citation

Tausch, Arno, 'The Pope - How Many Divisions Does He Have?' A First Global Survey of World Catholicism Based on the 'World Values Survey' and the 'European Social Survey' ('El Papa ¿Cuántas Divisiones Tiene? Sondeo Global Del Catolicismo Mundial Según El 'World Values Survey' Y El 'European Social Survey') (February 17, 2011). Centro Argentino De Estudios Internacionales e-Book No. 49 , Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1763187 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1763187

Arno Tausch (Contact Author)

University of the Free State, Department of Political Studies and Governance ( email )

205 Nelson Mandela Drive
Park West
Bloemfontein, Free State 9300
South Africa

University of Innsbruck - Department of Political Science ( email )

Universitätsstrasse 15
Innsbruck, Tirol 6020

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