Catholic Church Has Lost More Members Than Any Other Religion in the U.S.

Hispanics are gradually becoming dominant among U.S. Catholics

A recently published Pew Research Report has shed new light on American Catholicism . The study begins by informing the reader that the United States is home to 51 million adults who identify themselves as Catholics. The content then states that the American Catholic population has decreased during the last 10 years. The numbers say it clearly: in 2007, Catholics made up 24 percent of the U.S. population. In 2014, it went down to 21 percent. Will the Catholic population decline even more in the wake of reports of sexual abuse?

The U.S. contains more than 17,000 parishes serving a diverse population. The recent years witnessed American Catholicism weather the number of both external and internal challenges, starting with membership declines to priest shortages. The largest American religious institution got battered by reports saying clergies in the fold engaged themselves in sexual abuse of minors. What's worse, these criminal misdemeanors were covered up by higher church authorities.

One of the more striking finds of the Pew study was that religious switching has harmed Catholicism more than any other American religious tradition. As per empirical data, about 13 percent of adults residing in the United States and raised as Catholics now identify as Protestants or religious “nones” denoting lack of religion. Only two percent of American adults traveled the other way, meaning they converted to Catholicism. No other religion has suffered such attrition of the faithful.

The study revealed American Catholics are ethnically and racially diverse. Whites comprise about 60 percent of American Catholics. Latinos make up one-third. Asian-Americans and blacks make up the rest. The data shows a rise in numbers of Latino Catholics. If one extrapolates this trend, the Latino numbers will grow in the foreseeable future.

Catholics were also found to be evenly dispersed throughout the United States. The south has 27 percent, the Northeast and West 26 percent, and the Midwest has 21 percent of American Catholics. As an increasing number of U.S. Catholics are Hispanic, the geographic center of American Catholicism has gradually shifted from the Midwest and Northeast to West and South. Another point worth noticing is that a number of American Catholics want the church to undertake significant changes. 60 percent believe that priests should be permitted to marry. Many hold the positive view of women becoming priests. About 50 percent hold the opinion that the Catholic Church should solemnize gay and lesbian marriages.


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