BC study says Latinos are key to future of US Catholicism

The future of Catholicism in America rests heavily on the church’s ability to attract and retain young Hispanics whose connection to secular life is stronger than to the faith that sustained their parents, according to a new national study led by Boston College researchers.

The three-year study, which will be released Monday, said that failing to bring more young Hispanics into the church has broad consequences at a time when Latinos constitute 40 percent of all Catholics in the United States.

“The secularization of Hispanics is the biggest threat to the future of the Catholic Church in America,” said Hosffman Ospino, an assistant professor of theology and ministry at Boston College and lead author of the report. “We run the risk of losing a whole generation of Catholics.”


But that title makes it sound like Hispanics are some kind of magic drug that will make the US Church all better. I don’t believe that, or at best, it will be a temporary salve and not a major course correction.

Which is basically what the article itself and those quoted in it say.

Here’s why:

  1. Anglos will continue to slowly defect, if not formally (which is impossible), then by just not going to church. I don’t think an increase in Hispanics in their parishes will stop this. Then again, it might. Then again, I might be right: now that we have roughly two generations of (white) people who largely don’t go to Mass, are not culturally connected to their faith, and whose social lives lie elsewhere, I think baptism rates for Millennials will be/are going to be much lower for their children when they have them.

  2. As Hispanics become wealthier and more integrated into the dominant culture over time, I think they will just as easily become more materialistic, and will slip into the silent apostasy, just like their Irish, Italian, etc., forbears did (or will have done) in earlier decades. Ie, the secularization of them. It’s happening quickly right now and I don’t see how it’s being corrected.

In short, the culture is a giant death pit for the spiritual life, and if the culture doesn’t change, I see no reason to believe new groups of people living in it will fare any better than the others.

So, at this point, I really don’t think the future of Catholicism in the USA rests on Hispanics. At this point all it rests on is God.


It seems like in the last 40 years or so both have been in a decline, except the Hispanics perhaps more slowly. The Anglo Mass attracts the over-60 crowd and I read where 95% of those younger than 30 don’t attend regularly. At one time I believe 90% of Hispanics were Catholic but that rate is lower now, with many of them defecting to Protestantism. While it is true that once a Catholic always a Catholic, the kids are not being baptized in the Catholic Church at the same rate. The Spanish community from what I see is very vibrant and seems much more devotional. Half don’t receive but I wouldn’t let that fool anyone. They know their faith.

Many Hispanics are being targeted by Protestant sects, because many Hispanics are not catechized. Also they tend to form a separate parish within a parish and it is hard to cultivate a more universal, diverse church.

Also, there are Anglos coming into the Church, West Coast and South are exploding with conversions to Catholicism.

I’ll be convinced when I see a growing number in the confession lines.

This makes no sense, and I hold such ideas suspect.

In general the key to the future of any countries following of the Faith, is a responsibility of all the Churches members. No one group will hold the key answer or solution to problem areas. Secularism is a general condition that we must all become more aware of. It is easy to fall into. The new practices of social marketing on TV and through social media is a major weapon against the Faith.

Christians in general need to know their Bible better, live accordingly with more vigor, and resist things like materialism, or becoming mediocre about issues of birth control, abortion, and sin in general. True conversion is the key to a strong Church in the future. Not any particular ethnic group or new age convention on morality.

As Young Trad Cath pointed out, Latino Catholics are experiencing the same problems as the Irish, Italians, Polish, etc. in the U.S. have been. Cultural norms used to keep people in the pews, but as the culture has changed, it’s as clear as day that it is folly to think that’s enough. People need to understand their faith.

I think part of this is surplus growth, not necessarily losing Catholics but gaining many new ones. The Church is growing. Our local Church does not seem like it has grown greatly but it has been renovated. Parochial Schools appear to still be vibrant here.

Technically, you can only “lose” Catholics by death. So with a growing number of people on the planet, there will be a net gain in Catholicism as well as a lot of other religions. But there can be some deceiving statistics here. And Catholicism or Christianity isn’t necessarily measured by vibrancy, as most of those who had been so vibrant leading up to First Communion never step into a Church again. That’s not the way Christianity subsumed the Roman Empire in the early centuries or until the Roman Empire officially ended in the early 19th century.

For example, the Catholic Church in Lubbock Texas has grown 69% in recent years, so I don’t believe Catholics left except new ones arrived.


And they are saying despite all, Christianity is the fastest growing religion in the world.

It’s gaining bigtime in China and some places in Africa.

Well said. Can you imagine Jesus publishing a study like this?

I would say though that it rests on God and us - not to be cliché, but I actually think it’s really important that we try and make our faith appealing to others just by how we act, etc. I really remember just a few Catholics and how they affected me, years before I came back to the Church. Just be as good a person as you can be. I’m not saying you’ll pull in droves, but people do notice it.

I see it this way some. The lives of Saints are very inspirational. Everyone has their favorites.

The parishes I’ve been to recently to have proportionately long confession lines. Though they’re not all Anglo, certainly.

One of the most beautiful things I have noticed about the Catholic Church is that the people in church tend to reflect the community at large. Not so much with many other churches. There are many Protestant churches that are almost exclusively one race or another.

Each individual parish needs to connect locally, with whomever is in their community, but not at the exclusion of anyone. The charity that is offered through the Church will always keep the door wide open to those in need, as it should. Love all and welcome all. Be creative. God will take care of the rest.

This study is about number crunching. The only possible good that could result is if there are parishes that respond by reaching out to Hispanics in their communities. Perhaps there are parishes that have overlooked Hispanic citizens, or migrant farm workers, legal immigrants or even illegal immigrants. If that is what this study helps with, then good.

There are plenty but after 10 years of the Spanish Mass at my local church, it’s still the “We’ve got ours; they’ve got theirs” attitude.

The Church is here to make Saints, not conduct studies how to retain Demographics as if it was just another Man-centered, entity that has to crunch numbers and “figure out” how to play to the crowd through mechanized efforts and ethnic pandering.

In 16th century, it was OUR LADY that made Latin America key to the future of Catholicism. Poland consecrated their nation to Our Lady as Queen.
Reading headlines like these are a slap in the face of those who are holy in the Catholic Church as if the Holy Mother Church were just competing with Evangelicals, Protestants or Islam as just one of many religions worried about sustaining numbers .

Issues take on added importance as the Catholic Church becomes more reliant on Hispanics, specialists said. By 2050, Hispanics will probably account for more than 60 percent of American Catholics.

“It will be an entirely different Catholic experience,” Ospino said.

The Catholic experience is a UNIVERSAL FAITH. The Catholics involved in this report have lost a sense of the supernatural.

Poor teaching, poor preaching let’s the numbers bleed. Attempts to create artificial stopgaps by birthrates and targeting those who are more disposed to ethnic propagation is a sign that some leaders have lost a sense of the Holy.

What good IS THE number of Catholics if it is just solely based on cultural identity ? That the Church bleeds numbers, is because of the Sins of omission of Catholics, both Clergy and laity in the US. We are not being holy enough, and sound doctrine is not getting through to** all ethnicities**.

It is also annoying to see the politically oriented among those with power and offices, look so cynically at ethnic groups to play toward – thus, cultivating a manufactured faith to the people, rather than perfecting the existing faith held by the people who are disposed to hear, preserve and defend it (the Polish have persisted in demonstrating a faithful nation – the natives who listened to Our Lady of Guadalupe etc)

“We run the risk of losing a whole generation of Catholics.”

“If it weren’t for the Hispanic influx, the Catholic Church in the US would be in major decline,” Ospino said.

So what.

The Church isn’t about numbers; it’s about souls. It’s about preaching the TRUTH IN LOVE everywhere, anywhere, to anyone, and everyone! And prayer at all times.

Christ did not say, to get as many numbers, at the expense of Truth and Love , to sustain the veneer of a vibrant Church and to worry about the Church’s finances.

It seems the Church has focused on bragging about its one billion members.
Does Christ care if he still sees many Catholics are part of the City of Man still when they joined?
What good is it that in America we are producing more John Kerrys and Nancy Pelosi minded Catholics split down the middle, who then helped vote pro -abortion policies. 3/4ths of American hispanics voted for the pro-abort president. And we wonder why the younger ones are are now leaving? Because they’re not hearing the Faith! Numbers are useless when the salt has lost its flavor.

What good are having numbers sustained in America, if the number of souls are still on a road to perdition?

“Somehow, the church needs to change strategies and attitudes toward Hispanics in the parishes,” Ospino said. “It’s something the church has to come to terms with"

Have Faith and Be A SAINT! Pray for our priests to preach sound doctrine!

I don’t know why these bozos have to over complicate the Gospel. Taking courses about Catholicism for Catholicism can really blind some baptized Catholics who reduce everything into a bureaucratic routine.
Pope Francis was correct to say the Faith is not just a University where we study ideas. It’s a faith of action!

When Christ preached the Eucharist, and the multitude abandoned him, he didn’t say to the Apostles and those that stayed, "Okay we need to change strategies, and attitudes toward those who didnt want to hear me say 'Unless you Eat my Flesh. ’ "

The Church was never about sustaining numbers for the sake of numbers!

Good points.

Locally, we’ve recently seen a large influx of Hispanic immigrants in our Parish, and that’s having a definite demographic impact. But it’s only a fraction of the overall Hispanic immigrant population, most of which is probably un-churched. A couple of Protestant churches are targeting them, and there’s a Hispanic protestant church that specifically targets them.

They’re clearly going to have an impact, but we can’t ignore at all that they’re also a demographic that is sometimes poorly catechized and subject to a sort of loose view of the Church in some instances. They also don’t seem to get directly involved in a Church, which was explained to me second hand by somebody as a cultural artifact from their countries of origin, where generally the churches are provided for by a patron with very little local expectation of involvement.

In other words, some real opportunities for the Church here, and some new issues we haven’t faced in quite the same way before. A section of the demographic is deeply Catholic, and that’s something to build on.

Veridical16: You have got this so right and said what I was trying to get at in my own post, but much better. I think there has been a lost sense of what Catholic means and thus what our Faith requires of us. We are to be Catholic above all else, including our race, ethnicity and cultural experience. But people don’t seem to get that, and even the Church can dabble too much in trying to be “politically correct” in order to gain numbers.

I have often told family, friends and associates that I would just as soon have a Church with 1000 solid believers than one filled with 10 thousand folks who barely lived according to our faith if at all. Numbers mean nothing. Commitment to the truth, and living by that truth does. We should not have to go around fretting about demographics and tactics to bring people to the Church or keep them there. These things are a distraction from what really needs to be going on, and the real changes that need to occur.

Thanks for your perspective. It is the best one here.

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