Noting a profound demographic shift among different generations of Catholics in the United States, the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) has found that 54% of “millennial generation” Catholics (born in 1982 or later) are Hispanics, while 39% are non-Hispanic whites. On the other hand, 76% of “pre-Vatican II generation” Catholics (born 1943 or earlier) are non-Hispanic whites, while 15% are Hispanics.
The bottom line is that the face of the Catholic Church in the United States in the not-so-distant future is going to look very different. Hispanic, to be precise. Interestingly, the percentage occupied by blacks across the four generations is very constant, hovering around 3-4 percent. The next ethnic group in size — Asian and Pacific Islanders — occupy between 1 and 3 percent of the population across the generations.
Among the things CARA is best known for is an annual national poll of adult Catholics that lets us know with some confidence, for instance, that Sunday Mass attendance for U.S. Catholics has remained at a pretty stable (but dismal) 22 percent for the past decade. CARA has sifted through the mountain of data collected in the 2010 poll and found that the demography of the U.S. Catholic population is undergoing a seismic shift. Latinos care present in practically every diocese in the U.S. and more than 80 percent of all diocese have staff coordinating a Hispanic ministry. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops projects Hispanics will surpass the 102.6 million mark by the year 2050.