PEP Newsletter

Ideas For Your Parish

________________________________________________________________________________________                                                                                                     June, 2024

Who Are the U.S. Catholics

On April 12, 2024, the Pew Research Center published information about the makeup of the Catholic population in the United States.  (9 Facts About U.S. Catholics by Justin Nortely, Patricia Tevington and Gregory A. Smith)  It stated, “The U.S. has more Catholics than all but three other countries – Brazil, Mexico and the Philippines.”  Here are the demografics related to U.S. Catholics:

  1. Currently, 20% of U.S. adults describe themselves as Catholic, a percent-age that has remained approximately the same since 2014.
  2. A majority (57%) of Catholics are non-Hispanic White, while a third (33%) are Hispanic. Only 4% are Asian, 2% Black and 3% of another race.
  3. Overall, Catholics tend to be older than Americans as a whole, 28% being over 65, compared with 22% of the general public. Close to three-fifths (57%) of the adult Catholics are at least 50 years of age, compared with 48% of the general population.
  4. The racial and ethnic makeup of the Catholic population varies by where they live. Most of the non-Hispanic Whites are located in the Midwest (80%) or Northeast (72%).  There is greater racial/ethnic diversity in the West where the majority of the people are Hispanic (55%) and the South where 40% have an Hispanic lineage.
  5. Education levels vary among Catholic adults, with 68% of White population having either graduated from college or who attended at least a year or two of higher education. This is not the case for Hispanic Catholics.  Only 41% of them have attended college, 27% below their White counterparts.
  6. Less than a third of U.S. Catholics (28%) said they attended Mass at least once a week, and another 10% said they came on a monthly basis. There was no significant difference between the attendance patterns of White and Hispanic Catholics regarding their liturgical attendance.
  7. Voting patterns differed significantly between White and Hispanic adults. The former tended towards the Republican side, while the latter toward the Democrat, with 61% of the Whites leaning toward the Right and more of the Hispanics (60%) toward the Left.
  8. Catholic attitudes toward whether abortion should be legal or not depended on their political preference. As a whole, 61% felt it should be legal, but this differed significally with what political party they favored.  Among Catholic Democrats, 78% said it should be legal in most or all cases, compared with less than half (43%) of Catholic Republicans. 
  9. As a whole, 75% of U.S. Catholic adults at the present time are favorable toward Pope Francis, which is down from 84% when he was first elected in 2013. Although a slippage of 9% has occurred in 11 years, this still is a high positive rating compared with other well-known leaders. 

These attitudes from Catholic adults around the country might stimulate a discussion among staff and parish leaders, either separately or as a combined group.  After allowing personal time to contemplate one’s own reaction to these topics, the participants would then share with each other, either as a whole body or in the subgroups.  It might even prove helpful to write up a summary of the interaction to share with others, along with various ways in which these people could offer their ideas and feedback as well.