More than half of young Catholic American families are Latino

Despite recent decline, Hispanic presence in church crucial to its future
Latino Evangelicals (Benjie Sanders / Arizona Daily Star)

Latino Evangelicals (Benjie Sanders / Arizona Daily Star)

The following comes from a July 27 Latin Post article by Nicole Akoukou Thompson:

More than half of young Catholic families (53 percent) identify themselves as Latino or Hispanic compared with 32 percent of all Catholics, according to a recent survey. Could the presence of Hispanic families in the Catholic Church indicate Latino congregational growth, or at least the slowing of a once-persistent decline?

A 2014 study from the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University, entitled “The Catholic Family: 21st-Century Challenges in the United States,” examined the demographics, faith practices and media usage of 1,014 young families. The study indicated that 80 percent of Catholic children are being raised by married Catholic parents, most of whom are Hispanic/Latino (53 percent). Less than one percent of parents are widowed and 13 percent are single and living with a partner.

The continued presence of the Latino family in the Catholic Church is surprising to some considering recent research from Pew Research Center, which documents a distinct shift in the religious identity of U.S. Latinos away from Catholicism.

According to Pew, nearly one in four Latinos are former Catholics (24 percent), suggesting that religious polarization may be taking place in the Hispanic community. Between 2010 and 2014, there was a 12 percent drop in the number of Hispanics who identified as Catholics.

At the same time, the Evangelical Church has gained favor, apparently due the church’s inclusion of social, spiritual and financial empowerment in its gospel teachings, which resonate with Latino churchgoers. The church also supposedly uses its leverage to attempt to persuade Congress on immigration reform.

However, the Catholic Church’s efforts to attract and retain Hispanics has worked to some degree. 38 percent of U.S. Catholics are Hispanic. The retention can partly be attributed to Catholic social charities, local parishes and organizations that address immigration reform and assist low-income communities. There are deep ties between the Latino immigrant community and the Catholic Church. Some congregations honor that relationship through vocal support for comprehensive immigration reform and grassroots movements that ensure respect for the human dignity.

Pope Francis will visit the U.S. for the first time this September, and he’s expected to address immigration in a speech in front of Independence Hall in Philadelphia during the World Meeting of Families. The Pope will also offer a historic canonization Mass in Spanish for Junípero Serra, a Franciscan missionary who established mission churches in California. Many believe that Pope Francis can measurably help to slow departures from Catholicism to Evangelicalism in the U.S. and Latin America.



  1. The Catholic identity of Latino legal or illegal immigrants is very strong. It provides a nexus to the homeland that the Protestants cannot quite defeat. In fact a large fraction of our small Latin Mass communities, about half, are descendants of Latino immigrants.

  2. Several immigrants from Hispanic countries have told me that when they arrive in the United States, their families are practicing Catholics, but slowly but surely they leave the Catholic Church and become Protestant. Why? Because the sermons, the music, and the behavior in church is just like a Protestant church. The only difference is there is no confession and no real laws in the Protestant church. A person can do whatever they want and still be a member in good standing. By making Catholic churches more Protestant, instead of the Protestants joining us, the Catholics are fleeing and giving up the true faith.

    • Pilar, the same thing is going on in Central and South America. The Catholics are moving to the Evangelical churches just as many U.S. Catholics are doing. The question is why? True, the “true” church is being left behind. But, we Catholics need to be sure we aren’t driving them away inadvertently and unknowingly. Most of the music in Catholic churches is not very uplifting (my opinion), the sermons often are not well done or meaningful, and we don’t provide for the needs of the people. The Evangelicals seem to focus more on helping their members get through life than we do. Just my observation. Quick example – what was the last “Spanish” hymn you sang at Sunday Mass?

      • In the USA, English is the norm.
        In Latin America, Spanish is the norm.
        And this is what everyone has the right to expect – including immigrants.
        However they can get a Spanish copy of the CCC through the USCCB.
        So those who read only Spanish are not being neglected.
        You are right that many Bishops and Priests do not teach the Faith accurately and completely in accord with Sacred Scripture and the CCC.
        When any Church ‘appears’ to have few or no principles and has wishy washy Priests who do not teach about mortal sin and the need for repentance, of course many will not join and many will leave.

    • Ann Malley says:

      Accurate observation, Pilar. Take the lifting of moral obligation away and add the modernist confusion that would have everyone believe that there is no need to convert to the Catholic Faith and bingo. Why bother?

      Let the Catholic Church be truly and unapologeticly Catholic again, in all areas, and they will come. Say what you mean and mean what you say.

      As for language, that is only one draw of Latin. One can follow the mass and know what they are getting in any country.

  3. Most of the hymns that are, or were sung at Mass came from Germany. They are very masculine in their melody. Many of the other hymns have an Irish influence and are more feminine sounding, especially those in honor of Our Lady. Many of the older hymns have been translated into Spanish. The new hymns are basically garbage and ear wash, and these have been available in Spanish. Because the hymns are no longer God centered, no matter what language they are sung in, will not inspire people to proper worship. Many of the hymns, (songs would be a better word) are more fitting for a fiesta or a Mexican restaurant than they are for Catholic worship.

    • Yes, all Church hymns must be God-centered to worship God,
      not man-centered.
      People need to pay attention to the words, and they will see that many hymns are not worshipping God.

    • Steve Seitz says:

      Pilar, can you [or anyone else] recommend a good “Gloria”. The words are quite beautiful but almost all Glorias are entoned to music that communicates something different than the words. When they modified the words to the Gloria a few years ago, the situation got worse.

  4. Bob One says:

    Music, church or otherwise, is very much related to how we were brought up, and where we were brought up. Until recently the Catholic Church in North America was the church of the northern Europeans. People who were brought up in the 40-60s were accustomed to the music of the country from which the founders of the parish came to this nation. Today, the people of the Church in the U.S. are from the southern hemisphere. They use their music, be it Hispanic in origin or from Africa or Asia. We need to get use to it or we will drive more people away with our insistence of Middle Age music as the only allowable.

  5. Georgetown University is not “Catholic” itself. It supports contraception, abortion and homosex marriage, etc.
    They do not use the CCC as a required text for all freshmen and/or sophomores.

    “….the CATECHISM has raised throughout the world, even among non-Christians,
    and confirms its purpose of being presented as a full, complete exposition of Catholic doctrine,
    enabling EVERTONE to know what the Church professes, celebrates, lives, and prays in her daily life.” – Pope John Paul II (CCC pg xiv)

    • Andy, I think it is interesting to review the curriculum of Georgetown and other Catholic Universities. Most teach in the “Catholic Tradition”, but many do not have strong religious studies requirements at the undergraduate level. CARA also has an interesting paper – that speaks to how Catholic students are when they enter college and when they leave. Most have left the church before they enter college. A quick review of the curriculum at most Catholic colleges makes you wonder which course is available that would or could actually teach the CCC. Its safe to say that you shouldn’t send your kids to a Catholic university because its Catholic. Its not your…

      • Ann Malley says:

        …it’s more than just teaching the CCC, Bob One, but rather the tone of the campus The Land o’Lakes conference that denuded many a Catholic college of an overt Catholic tone for money – I mean, for the sake of academia – rendered the college the bastion of where to lose your Faith, second only to the Catholic High school, appropriately secularized or ecumenized to promote social justice.

  6. And the real question is HOW many HISPANIC citizens Vote for the PARTY of DEATH,
    and or politicians who support abortion, homosexual marriage, euthanasia, contraception or other intrinsic evils ?

    This answer will tell all who real Catholics are, or who are heretics and schismatics. Just because someone goes to Church, does not make him a faithful Catholic.
    Voting for EVIL politicians violates the Faith.

  7. It is a violation of the Faith to support ILLEGAL immigration.
    Immigrants are required to obey the law,
    and this does not exclude immigration laws. CCC #2241.

  8. Up until Vatican II there was no folk music at Mass. All the hymns were God centered, and most of them used the organ as an instrument. Once you bring in street music, the sacred is made profane, and you have different cultures wanting their own melodies played in church. Many of the players and most of the modern tunes seem like rejects from THE GONG SHOW. Bring back Gregorian and simple chant, and get rid of polka and fiesta music which is more fitting to a bar or a cocktail lounge than to the House of God.

  9. Bob One says:

    There is a good review of the Catholic Church’s approach to immigration on the USCCB web site. It speaks to the issue of the right to immigrate, a nation’s right to control the borders and the basic human rights of all people.

COMMENTS POLICY: Comments are limited to 750 characters and will be truncated at 750. Comments should not contain offensive or libelous language. Please strive to be civil. All comments are subject to approval by our moderator and to editing as the moderator deems appropriate. Inclusion of your email address is optional.

Speak Your Mind

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

COMMENTS POLICY: Comments are limited to 750 characters and will be truncated at 750. Comments should not contain offensive or libelous language. Please strive to be civil. All comments are subject to approval by our moderator and to editing as the moderator deems appropriate. Inclusion of your email address is optional.