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RELIGION: The Catholic Church in the US

Timothy Welch writes:

"I would like to add a comment and some statistics regarding the growth of the Catholic Church in the United States. The Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University recently reported that the number of Catholics per parish has grown at a rate higher than the number of new parishes over the past 50 years. The number of parishes has increased 26 percent since 1950, but at the same time the number of Catholics per parish has increased 64 percent. As of this year there are nearly 3,100 registered Catholics per parish in the U.S.

The unanswered question, of course, is how frequently these registered Catholics attend Mass. The Center did not provide any statistics on this salient point.

Also of great importance is the vibrancy of the Hispanic Church in the United States. I have heard that, at present rates of growth, the Catholic Church in the United States will be predominantly Spanish by 2050."

My comment: Again, I wonder how long Hispanic piety will survive in the US. Sixty years ago I attended a Christmas mass in Isleta Mission, New Mexico. It was an extraordinary example of syncretism. First, Indian tribesmen and women performed their slow ceremonial dances before the altar, the men almost naked and the women heavily dressed. When they had finished, the priest came in and conducted the regular Spanish mass. Meanwhile, young people gathered at the back of the church and watched with curiosity as they drank cokes, that arch-symbol of Americanism.

Ronald Hilton - 1/01/01