Catholic Almanac's centennial edition ranks nations and U.S. states

Posted: Friday, January 30, 2004

HUNTINGTON, Ind. (AP) Italy and the two enclaves it surrounds, the State of Vatican City and San Marino, are the world's three most Catholic of sovereign states in percentage of population, the centennial edition of the ''Catholic Almanac'' reports.

Vatican City is virtually 100 percent Roman Catholic, while San Marino and Italy both have populations that are 97 percent or more Catholic. Ranking just behind are Malta and Poland, each 96 percent Catholic.

In size of Catholic population Italy comes in fifth (with 56.3 million Catholics) behind Brazil (147.4 million), Mexico (122.2 million), the United States (66.4 million) and the Philippines (63.7 million).

The authoritative reference work of facts and figures originated in 1904 as ''St. Antony's Almanac,'' later ''The Franciscan Almanac,'' and has been published since 1972 by Our Sunday Visitor.

The almanac says the U.S. population is 22.8 percent Catholic. The most heavily Catholic state remains Rhode Island (61 percent of the citizenry), followed by Massachusetts (48.5 percent), New Jersey (43.7 percent), New York (40.9 percent) and Connecticut (37 percent).

California has the largest Catholic population, 32.7 million.

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