Shrinking and Growing at the Same Time

An article from a local Bishop designate Christopher Coyne...

Catholic Identity and the New Evangelization

Last year Trinity College in Hartford, CT released a study of a nationwide survey, based on 54,000 telephone interviews, in which people were asked to identify their religious affiliation. The results are interesting for us Catholics, to say the least. While the total number of Roman Catholics within the United States has remained basically the same since 1990 – about one quarter of the population – the number of people in New England who identify themselves as Roman Catholic has dropped considerably. The study, found that the six-state region is now 36 percent Catholic, down from 50 percent in 1990. According to an article in the Boston Globe, “In Massachusetts, the decline is particularly striking – in 1990, Catholics made up a majority of the state, with 54 percent of the residents, but in 2008, the Catholic population was 39 percent. At the same time, the percentage of the state’s residents who say they have no religious affiliation rose sharply, from 8 percent to 22 percent.” As such, the vast majority of new Catholics are located in the southern and southwestern parts of the United States and are mainly new immigrants from Central and South America. We are seeing then a major shift in the Catholic population from the northeast – north central states and cities of Boston, New York, and Chicago consisting of Catholics of European descent – Irish, Italian, Polish, etc. – to a Church whose population centers are now in Texas, Florida, and California, markedly Hispanic in language and culture. The study did not ask people why they ceased identifying themselves as Catholics or why they had dropped any religious affiliation whatsoever. It simply collected data. Of course, that leaves a bit of an information vacuum for those of us who are still Catholic to consider. So, allow me to offer a few thoughts on the matter, not just in terms of the “why?” but also the “how?” – How do we respond to this in a positive way? How do we pick-up the challenge that this offers us. Read More>>>>

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