Monday, May 19, 2014

Latino Catholics seem to leave the Church for the same reasons as other Catholics. When Pew researchers asked ex-Catholic Americans (of all ethnicities) in 2009 why they had left the Church, they offered respondents a list of items different from the one they offered Latinos in the more recent report—yet drifting away and ceasing to believe Catholic teachings were again commonly cited. Another reason to assume similar motives for switching religions: Hispanic Catholics and Protestants closely resemble their non-Hispanic white counterparts on just about every indicator of religious practice and belief that Pew measures. It seems reasonable to assume that these inter-ethnic commonalities extend to individuals’ reasons for remaining in or leaving a particular religion.

All of which is to say that the question of why Latinos leave the Church is less about Latinos than about the Church.

What should the Church do about all this? To serve and attract Latino Catholics, offer Mass in Spanish (when possible)—almost half of Latino Catholics prefer to attend Spanish-language Masses—and continue to reach out to new immigrants. But first and foremost, Latinos and others need not new programs targeted to their demographic but a living, salvific relationship with God. This may sound elementary, but as Sherry Weddell has documented, “the majority of adult Catholics are not even certain that a personal relationship with God is possible.”

Read it all.

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