Bishops Told Immigration Is Key to the Future of Catholic Church

Salt Lake Tribune (Salt Lake City), June 13, 2008

Immigration has not weakened the Christian identity of the United States but rather strengthened it, the director of the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life told Catholic bishops here Thursday.

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[Luigi] Lugo presented findings from Pew’s sweeping U.S. Religious Landscape Survey to some 240 Catholic bishops attending their annual spring meeting.

The survey, first released last February, measured the changing and diversifying religious affiliations of some 35,000 American adults. Researchers found that Catholics lose more adherents than any other religious group; one in 10 Americans are former Catholics.

Despite those losses, Catholic numbers have held steady during the last two decades, at about a quarter of the U.S. population. That’s thanks in large part to immigrants, notably Latinos. About one-third of U.S. Catholics are Latino, which is helping offset the more secular attitudes that have gained ground in Europe, Lugo said.

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