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RELIGION: The Catholic Church in the US



Evelyn Aleman rejects the statement by Stephen Schwartz that American Catholic churches are empty:

"This seems to me to be a rather generalized statement, since the Catholic Church has a huge Latino following, more specifically in immigrant neighborhoods throughout the United States. For example, in my old neighborhood -- which was mostly an Irish/ Swedish American community when I was growing up -- English-language masses go practically unattended. However, the neighborhood has gone through many changes over the last 30 years, brought about by immigrants from Latin American countries. These changes include the development of prayer service/ mass in Spanish and the addition of mariachi and/ or local bands to the liturgy. Every Sunday it is difficult to find an empty pew at any church in a Latino community throughout Southern California. In fact, the Pico Union area has a Mayan population -- which, interestingly enough, also partakes in these religious services, displaying its own uniqueness." At the same time, Evelyn dislikes the Spanglish which is invading the area.

My comment: Frequently on Sundays I watch mass from the Mexican Cathedral in San Antonio, Texas, to which what Evelyn says applies equally. "Natural piety" is characteristic of these simple folk. Will it decline, as it has in older communities, as these immigrants become more "educated"? Probably. It is hard for educated people to accept the Catholic stress, not just o miracles, but on miracles performed by a particular image. Even Pope Paul II, believes that he is protected, not just by the Virgin, but specifically the Virgin of Fatima. Protestant churches reject this as idolatry. The immigrants have few intellectual concerns. They like the ceremony and the mystery of the mass, and do not worry about transubstantiation. Latin America is now the most Catholic of continents, and some surmise that the next Pope will come from there.

Ronald Hilton - 1/01/01


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