The oldest institution on earth, the Roman Catholic Church, sustains a far-flung flock whose one billion-plus adherents comprise nearly one-sixth of the world’s population and half of all Christians. The tectonic shift of the world’s Catholic population to the ‘global south’ has transformed the Church into a truly global institution. In 1910 two-thirds of Catholics were Europeans; now over two-thirds live in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. 1 Leadership of the Church reflects this new global reality, not only in the person of Pope Francis but in the many cardinals he has appointed from across the world. Also crucial to understanding the Church’s political role is its deep tradition of engagement with worldly affairs – a comfortableness with politics not shared by all religious faiths. These facts, combined with the visibility and popularity of Pope Francis, ensure the impact of the Church in world politics.