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Hispanics Changing the Style of the Church PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 26 April 2007 09:34

Written by Keith Strohm

There is an interesting article here on how the presence of Hispanics is changing the style of the Catholic Church. Here are a few tidbits:

Hispanics are changing the nation's religious landscape, particularly in the Roman Catholic Church, according to the study released Wednesday by the Pew Hispanic Center and the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life.

Spirit-filled or renewalist movements, including divine healing and direct revelations from God, are a style of worship favored more by Hispanics than by their non-Hispanic counterparts in the national survey.

Also, many of the Hispanics joining evangelical churches are Catholic converts who say they want a more direct, personal experience with God, said the survey, titled "Changing Faiths: Latinos and the Transformation of American Religion."

Hispanics make up about 32 percent of Pima County's population and about 28.5 percent of Arizona's population, U.S. Census data show. Pinpointing Hispanic percentages in the local Catholic Church is difficult because of the number of illegal immigrants who live here, said Ruben Davalos, director of evangelization and Hispanic ministry for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Tucson.

But it's clear that the Hispanic presence is growing among local Catholic churches. Five years ago, 30 percent to 40 percent of the diocese's 74 parishes had Spanish services. Now it's closer to 90 percent, Davalos said.

"There are parishes that used to have four or five Masses in English and one in Spanish, and now those parishes have four Masses in Spanish and one in English," he said.

About 22 million of the nation's 66 million Catholics are Hispanic. They have accounted for 71 percent of the U.S. Catholic Church's growth since 1960. The study projects that the Hispanic share will continue climbing for decades. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops says that if current growth continues, Hispanics will make up a majority of American Catholics by 2020.

But one of the study's most significant findings is that more than half of Hispanic Catholics identify themselves as charismatics, compared with only one-eighth of non-Hispanic Catholics. Charismatic typically means showing an emotional response to the Holy Spirit.

"Spirit-filled religiosity does pose a contrast to what have been the dominant characteristics of the Catholic Church in the United States at least for the last generation," said Suro, of the Pew Hispanic Center. "There will be a process of change."

While I do quibble with the reporters characterization of charismatic spirituality (which I'm sure will confirm the worst fears of those Catholics with a phobia for all things emotional) as an "emotional response to the Holy Spirit (it is far more than that--a yielding of the whole person to the Spirit of God, not just emotions), it is an interesting article.

I'm most troubled by the sheer number of Hispanics who are leaving the Church for evangelical and pentecostal communities. This, again, is something that we need to address in the life of the Church.

In any event, take a peek at the whole article!


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