Catholic Church in the United States

Catholic Church
in the United States

Classification Catholic
Orientation Catholic
Polity Episcopal
Region United States, Puerto Rico, and other territories
Headquarters Washington, D.C.
Members 69,470,686 (as of 2015)

The Catholic Church in the United States is part of the worldwide Catholic Church. With 69.5 million members, it is the largest religious body in the United States, comprising 22% of the population[1] as of 2015.[2] The United States has the fourth largest Catholic population in the world, after Brazil, Mexico and the Philippines,[3] the largest Catholic minority population, and the largest English-speaking Catholic population.

Catholicism arrived in what is now the United States in the earliest days of the European colonization of the Americas. The first Catholics were Spanish missionaries who came with Christopher Columbus to the New World on his second voyage in 1493.[4] In the 16th and 17th centuries, they established missions in what are now Florida, Georgia, New Mexico, Puerto Rico, Texas and later in California.[5][6] French colonization in the early 18th century saw missions established in Louisiana, St. Louis, New Orleans, Biloxi, Mobile, the Alabamas, Natchez, Yazoo, Natchitoches, Arkansas, Illinois,[7] and Michigan. In 1789 the Archdiocese of Baltimore was the first diocese established in the United States and John Carroll, whose brother Daniel was one of five men to sign both the Articles of Confederation (1778) and the United States Constitution (1787), was the first American bishop.[8] John McCloskey was the first American cardinal in 1875.

The number of Catholics grew from the early 19th century through immigration and the acquisition of the predominantly Catholic former possessions of France, Spain, and Mexico, followed in the mid-19th century by a rapid influx of Irish, German, Italian and Polish immigrants from Europe, making Catholicism the largest Christian denomination in the United States. This increase was met by widespread prejudice and hostility, often resulting in riots and the burning of churches, convents, and seminaries.[9] The Know Nothings, an anti-Catholic nativist movement, was founded in the mid 19th century in an attempt to restrict Catholic immigration and was later followed by the Order of United American Mechanics, the Ku Klux Klan, the American Protective Association, and the Junior Order of United American Mechanics.

The integration of Catholics into American society was marked by the election of John F. Kennedy as President in 1960. Since then, the percentage of Americans who are Catholic has fallen slowly from about 25% to 22%,[10] with increases in Hispanics, especially Mexican Americans, who have balanced losses of self-identifying Catholics among other ethnic groups. As of 2016 Catholics serve as outgoing Vice President (Joe Biden), Speaker of the House of Representatives (Paul Ryan), Chief Justice (John Roberts), Justices of the Supreme Court (five out of eight, including Roberts; the ninth seat in the Court, which was occupied by Catholic Antonin Scalia until his death in February 2016, is currently vacant),[11] and a plurality of Senators, Representatives,[12] and Governors.


Provinces and dioceses of the Catholic Church in the US. Each color represents one of the 32 Latin Church provinces.
Chicago's Holy Name Cathedral is the mother church of one of the largest Catholic dioceses in the United States.
The Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels is the head church of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. The second largest Catholic church in the United States.[13]

Catholics gather as local communities called parishes, headed by a priest, and typically meet at a permanent church building for liturgies every Sunday, weekdays and on holy days. Within the 195 geographical dioceses and archdioceses (excluding the Archdiocese for the Military Services), there are 17,900 local Catholic parishes in the United States. The Catholic Church has the third highest total number of local congregations in the US behind Southern Baptists and United Methodists. However, the average Catholic parish is significantly larger than the average Baptist or Methodist congregation; there are more than four times as many Catholics as Southern Baptists and more than eight times as many Catholics as United Methodists.[14]

In the United States, there are 195 dioceses/archdioceses, one apostolic exarchate, and one personal ordinariate:

Eastern Catholic Churches are churches with origins in Eastern Europe, Asia and Africa that have their own distinctive liturgical, legal and organizational systems and are identified by the national or ethnic character of their region of origin. Each is considered fully equal to the Latin tradition within the church. In the United States, there are 15 Eastern church dioceses (called eparchies) and two Eastern church archdioceses (or archeparchies), the Byzantine Catholic Archeparchy of Pittsburgh and the Ukrainian Catholic Archeparchy of Philadelphia.

The apostolic exarchate for the Syro-Malankara Catholic Church in the United States is headed by a bishop who is a member of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. An apostolic exarchate is the Eastern Catholic Church equivalent of an apostolic vicariate. It is not a full-fledged diocese/eparchy, but is established by the Holy See for the pastoral care of Eastern Catholics in an area outside the territory of the Eastern Catholic Church to which they belong. It is headed by a bishop or a priest with the title of exarch.

The Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of Saint Peter was established January 1, 2012, to serve former Anglican groups and clergy in the United States who sought to become Catholic. Similar to a diocese though national in scope, the ordinariate is based in Houston, Texas and includes parishes and communities across the United States that are fully Catholic, while retaining elements of their Anglican heritage and traditions.

As of 2014, 6 dioceses out of 195 are vacant (sede vacante). Another seven bishops, including three Archbishops and one Cardinal, are past the retirement age of 75.

The central leadership body of the Catholic Church in the United States is the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, made up of the hierarchy of bishops (including archbishops) of the United States and the U.S. Virgin Islands, although each bishop is independent in his own diocese, answerable only to the Holy See. The USCCB elects a president to serve as their administrative head, but he is in no way the "head" of the Church or of Catholics in the United States. In addition to the 195 dioceses and one exarchate[15] represented in the USCCB, there are several dioceses in the nation's other four overseas dependencies. In the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, the bishops in the six dioceses (one metropolitan archdiocese and five suffragan dioceses) form their own episcopal conference, the Conferencia Episcopal Puertorriqueña.[16] The bishops in US insular areas in the Pacific Ocean—the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, the Territory of American Samoa, and the Territory of Guam—are members of the Episcopal Conference of the Pacific.

No primate exists for Catholics in the United States. In the 1850s, the Archdiocese of Baltimore was acknowledged a Prerogative of Place, which confers to its archbishop some of the leadership responsibilities granted to primates in other countries. The Archdiocese of Baltimore was the first diocese established in the United States, in 1789, with John Carroll (1735–1815) as its first bishop. It was, for many years, the most influential diocese in the fledgling nation. Now, however, the United States has several large archdioceses and a number of cardinal-archbishops.

By far, most Catholics in the United States belong to the Latin Church and the Roman Rite of the Catholic Church. Rite generally refers to the form of worship ("liturgical rite") in a church community owing to cultural and historical differences as well as differences in practice. However, the Vatican II document, Orientalium Ecclesiarum ("Of the Eastern Churches"), acknowledges that these Eastern Catholic communities are "true Churches" and not just rites within the Catholic Church.[17] There are 14 other Churches in the United States (23 within the global Catholic Church) which are in communion with Rome, fully recognized and valid in the eyes of the Catholic Church. They have their own bishops and eparchies. The largest of these communities in the U.S. is the Chaldean Catholic Church.[18] Most of these Churches are of Eastern European and Middle Eastern origin. Eastern Catholic Churches are distinguished from Eastern Orthodox, identifiable by their usage of the term Catholic.[19]

Clergy, lay ministers and employees

There are 15 U.S. cardinals.

Four cardinals currently lead U.S. archdioceses:

Three cardinals are not currently diocesan bishops:

Eight cardinals are retired:

There are 454 active and retired Catholic bishops in the United States:

270 active bishops:

184 retired bishops:

In 2014 the Church has 38,275[20] diocesan and religious-order priests in the United States; over 30,000 lay ministers (80% of them women); 17,464[20] men who are ordained as permanent deacons in the United States (a permanent deacon is a man, either married or single, who is ordained to the order of deacons, the first of three ranks in ordained ministry;[21] they assist priests in administrative and pastoral roles); 49,883[20] sisters; 4,318[20] brothers; 16 US cardinals; 424 active and retired US bishops; and 3,631[20] seminarians enrolled in the United States. Overall, it employs more than one million employees with an operating budget of nearly $100 billion to run parishes, diocesan primary and secondary schools, nursing homes, retreat centers, diocesan hospitals, and other charitable institutions.[22] Catholic schools educate 2.7 million students in the United States, employing 150,000 teachers.

Leadership in the Church in the United States falls to its bishops. They are the shepherds of particular cities and their surrounding areas, called dioceses or sees. There is one non-territorial diocese in the United States for Catholics in the armed forces. There are approximately 430 bishops and archbishops who shepherd the nation's 195 dioceses and archdioceses. Each diocese is led by one bishop, known as its ordinary. Some dioceses (usually those that are larger) also have auxiliary bishops who help the ordinary. Some also have a retired bishop still in residence. It is possible for a diocese to be temporarily without a bishop (called a "vacant see") if the ordinary is transferred to a new diocese or dies without a named successor. Dioceses are grouped together geographically into provinces, usually within a state, part of a state, or multiple states together (see map below). A province comprises several dioceses which look to one ordinary bishop (usually of the most populous or historically influential diocese/city) for guidance and leadership. This lead bishop is their archbishop and his diocese is the archdiocese. The archbishop is called the 'metropolitan' bishop who oversees his brother 'suffragan' bishops. The subordinate dioceses are likewise called suffragan dioceses. There are currently 33 metropolitan archbishops in the United States. There are 269 active Catholic bishops in the United States (4 Cardinal Archbishops, 1 Coadjutor Archbishop, 154 Diocesan Bishops, 73 Auxiliary Bishops, and 9 Apostolic or Diocesan Administrators) and there are 179 retired Catholic bishops in the United States (9 retired Cardinal Archbishops, 24 retired Archbishops, 94 retired Diocesan Bishops, 52 retired Auxiliary Bishops). Also according to the USCCB's website, there are 19 U.S. cardinals (five cardinals currently lead U.S. archdioceses, three cardinals are not currently diocesan bishops, and eleven cardinals are retired).

Some bishops are created Cardinals by the pope. These are usually conferred upon bishops of influential or significant dioceses - or upon bishops who have distinguished themselves in a particular area of service. As of April 2015, there are 16 American cardinals. Not all reside in the United States or are diocesan ordinaries. Four are sitting archbishops: of Boston, Galveston-Houston, New York and Washington D.C.. Nine are retired Archbishops emeritus: of Baltimore, Boston, Denver, Detroit, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, San Francisco, and Washington D.C. (two). Three work in Rome with the Roman Curia, and one is retired from service in Rome without serving as a diocesan ordinary in the US.

Approved translations of the Bible

USCCB approved translations




According to the 2010 Official Catholic Directory, as of 2009 there were 189 seminaries with 5,131 students in the United States; 3,319 diocesan seminarians and 1,812 religious seminarians. By the official 2011 statistics, there are 5,247 seminarians (3,394 diocesan and 1,853 religious) in the United States. In addition, the American Catholic bishops oversee the Pontifical North American College for American seminarians and priests studying at one of the Pontifical Universities in Rome.

Universities and colleges

According to the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities in 2011, there are approximately 230 Roman Catholic universities and colleges in the United States with nearly 1 million students and some 65,000 professors.[23] In 2015, the number of tertiary schools rose to 233, while the number of students fell to 810,201.[24] The national university of the Church, founded by the nation's bishops in 1887, is The Catholic University of America in Washington, DC. The first Catholic institution of higher learning established in the United States was Georgetown University in 1789.[25]

Parochial schools

By the middle of the 19th century, the Catholics in larger cities started building their own parochial school system. The main impetus was fear that exposure to Protestant teachers in the public schools, and Protestant fellow students, would lead to a loss of faith. Protestants reacted by strong opposition to any public funding of parochial schools.[26] The Catholics nevertheless built their elementary schools, parish by parish, using very low paid sisters as teachers.[27]

In the classrooms, the highest priorities were piety, orthodoxy, and strict discipline. Knowledge of the subject matter was a minor concern, and in the late 19th century few of the teachers in parochial (or secular) schools had gone beyond the 8th grade themselves. The sisters came from numerous denominations, and there was no effort to provide joint teachers training programs. The bishops were indifferent. Finally around 1911, led by the Catholic University in Washington, Catholic colleges began summer institutes to train the sisters in pedagogical techniques. Long past World War II, the Catholic schools were noted for inferior plants compared to the public schools, and less well-trained teachers. The teachers were selected for religiosity, not teaching skills; the outcome was pious children and a reduced risk of marriage to Protestants.[28]

Healthcare system

In 2002, Catholic health care systems, overseeing 625 hospitals with a combined revenue of 30 billion dollars, comprised the nation's largest group of nonprofit systems.[29] In 2008, the cost of running these hospitals had risen to $84.6 billion, including the $5.7 billion they donate.[30] According to the Catholic Health Association of the United States, 60 health care systems, on average, admit one in six patients nationwide each year.[31]

Catholic Charities

Catholic Charities is active as one of the largest voluntary social service networks in the United States. In 2009, it welcomed in New Jersey the 50,000th refugee to come to the United States from Burma. Likewise, the US Bishops' Migration and Refugee Services has resettled 14,846 refugees from Burma since 2006.[32] In 2010 Catholic Charities USA was one of only four charities among the top 400 charitable organizations to witness an increase in donations in 2009, according to a survey conducted by The Chronicle of Philanthropy.[33]

Catholic Church and labor

The church had a role in shaping the U.S. labor movement, due to the involvement of priests like Charles Owen Rice and John P. Boland. The activism of Msgr. Geno Baroni was instrumental in creating the Catholic Campaign for Human Development.


There are 69,470,686 registered Catholics in the United States (22% of the US population) as of 2015, according to the American bishops' count in their Official Catholic Directory 2014.[1][2] This count primarily rests on the parish assessment tax which pastors evaluate yearly according to the number of registered members and contributors. Estimates of the overall American Catholic population from recent years generally range around 20% to 28%. According to Albert J. Menedez, research director of "Americans for Religious Liberty," many Americans continue to call themselves Catholic but "do not register at local parishes for a variety of reasons."[34] According to a survey of 35,556 American residents (released in 2008 by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life), 23.9% of Americans identify themselves as Catholic (approximately 72 million of a national population of 306 million residents).[35] The study notes that 10% of those people who identify themselves as Protestant in the interview are former Catholics and 8% of those who identity themselves as Catholic are former Protestants.[36] Nationally, more parishes have opened than closed.

The northeastern quadrant of the US (i.e., New England, Mid-Atlantic, East North Central, and West North Central) has seen a decline in the number of parishes since 1970, but parish numbers are up in the other five regions (i.e., South Atlantic, East South Central, West South Central, Pacific, and Mountain regions).[37] Catholics in the US are about 6% of the church's total worldwide 1.2 billion membership.

A poll by The Barna Group in 2004 found Catholic ethnicity to be 60% non-Hispanic white (generally of mixed ethnicity, but almost always includes at least one Catholic ethnicity such as Irish, Italian, German, Polish, or French), 31% Hispanic of any nationality (mostly Mexicans), 4% Black, and 5% other ethnicity (mostly Filipinos and other Asian Americans, and American Indians).[38] Among the non-Hispanic whites, about 16 million Catholics identify as being of Irish descent, about 13 million as German, about 12 million as Italian, about 7 million as Polish, and about 5 million as French (note that many identify with more than one ethnicity). The roughly 6 million Catholics who are converts (mainly from Protestantism, with a smaller number from irreligion or other religions) are also mostly non-Hispanic white, including many people of British, Dutch, and Scandinavian ancestry.

Between 1990 and 2008, there were 11 million additional Catholics. The growth in the Latino population accounted for 9 million of these. They comprised 32% of all American Catholics in 2008 as opposed to 20% in 1990.[39] The percentage of Hispanics who identified as Catholic dropped from 67% in 2010 to 55% in 2013.[40]

According to a more recent Pew Forum report which examined American religiosity in 2014 and compared it to 2007,[41] there were 50.9 million adult Catholics as of 2014 (excluding children under 18), forming about 20.8% of the U.S. population, down from 54.3 million and 23.9% in 2007. Pew also found that the Catholic population is aging, forming a higher percentage of the elderly population than the young, and retention rates are also worse among the young. About 41% of those raised Catholic have left the faith, about half of these to the unaffiliated population and a quarter to evangelical and other Protestantism. Conversions to Catholicism are rare, with 90% of current Catholics being raised in the religion; 7% of current Catholics are ex-Protestants, 2% were raised unaffiliated, and 1% in other religions (Orthodox Christian, Mormon or other nontrinitarian, Buddhist, Muslim, etc.), with Jews and Hindus least likely to become Catholic of all the religious groups surveyed. Overall, Catholicism has by far the worst net conversion balance of any major religious group, with a high conversion rate out of the faith and a low rate into it; by contrast, most other religions have in- and out-conversion rates that roughly balance, whether high or low. By race, 59% of Catholics are non-Hispanic white, 34% Hispanic, 3% black, 3% Asian, and 2% mixed or Native American. Conversely, 19% of non-Hispanic whites are Catholic in 2014 (down from 22% in 2007), whereas 48% of Hispanics are (versus 58% in 2007). In 2015, Hispanics are 38%, while blacks and Asians are still at 3% each.[42]

Catholicism by state

Christian Church
1Massachusetts44Catholic Church
2Rhode Island43
3New Jersey39
5New York36
6New Hampshire35
North DakotaEvangelical Lutheran Church in America
13Wisconsin29Catholic Church
New Mexico
South DakotaEvangelical Lutheran Church in America
22Colorado24Catholic Church
35Idaho15The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
OregonCatholic Church
KentuckySouthern Baptist Convention
41Delaware10United Methodist Church
North CarolinaSouthern Baptist Convention
South Carolina
UtahThe Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
48West Virginia8Southern Baptist Convention


There had never been a Catholic religious party in the United States, either local, state or national, similar to Christian Democratic parties in Europe and Latin America, until the formation of the Christian Democracy Party USA in 2011, now the American Solidarity Party. Since the election of the Catholic John F. Kennedy as President in 1960, Catholics have split about 50-50 between the two major parties. On social issues the Catholic Church takes strong positions against abortion, which was partly legalized in 1973 by the Supreme Court, and same-sex marriage, which was fully legalized in June 2015. The Church also condemns embryo-destroying research and in vitro fertilization as immoral. The Church is allied with conservative evangelicals and other Protestants on these issues. However, the Catholic Church throughout its history has taken special concern for all vulnerable groups. This has led to progressive alliances, as well, with the church championing causes such as a strong welfare state, unionization,[44] immigration for those fleeing economic or political hardship, opposition to capital punishment,[45] environmental stewardship,[46] gun control,[47] opposition and critical evaluation of modern warfare.[48] The Catholic Church's teachings, coming from the perspective of a global church, do not conform easily to the American political binary of "liberals" and "conservatives." American Catholics are in some cases at odds with church hierarchy on doctrinal issues of political importance.


Early period to 1800

Charles Carroll, Signer of the Declaration of Independence (1776), was a member of the Catholic church in Maryland

There were small Catholic settlements in Spanish and French colonies, especially in California, New Mexico and Louisiana. Apart from Louisiana, they had only a small role in the history of the Church in the United States.

Anti-Catholicism was official government policy for the English who settled the colonies along the Atlantic seaboard.[49] Maryland was founded by a Catholic, Lord Baltimore as the first 'non-denominational' colony and was the first to accommodate Catholics. In 1650, the Puritans in the colony rebelled and repealed the Act of Toleration. Catholicism was outlawed and Catholic priests were hunted and exiled. By 1658, the Act of Toleration was reinstated and Maryland became the center of Catholicism into the mid-19th century. In 1689 Puritans rebelled and again repealed the Maryland Toleration Act. Freedom of religion returned with the American Revolution. By the time of the American Revolution in the 1770s, Catholics formed 1.6%, or 40,000 persons, white and black of the 2.5 million population of the thirteen colonies.[50][51] Perhaps a majority lived in Maryland where they may have been 10% of the colony's inhabitants.

After the Revolution Rome made entirely new arrangements for the creation of an American diocese under American bishops.[52][53] Numerous Catholics served in the American army and the new nation had very close ties with Catholic France.[54] General George Washington insisted on toleration; for example, issued strict orders in 1775 that "Pope's Day," the colonial equivalent of Guy Fawkes Night, was not to be celebrated. Foreign Catholics played major military roles, especially Jean-Baptiste Donatien de Vimeur, comte de Rochambeau, Charles Hector, comte d'Estaing and Tadeusz Kościuszko.[55]

In 1787 two Catholics, Daniel Carroll and Thomas Fitzsimons, helped draft the new United States Constitution.[56] In 1791, the First Amendment stated, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof..."

John Carroll was appointed by the Vatican as Prefect Apostolic, making him superior of the missionary church in the thirteen states, and to the first plans for Georgetown University. He became the first American bishop in 1789.

19th century (1800–1900)

The nave of the St. Patrick's Cathedral, New York City; completed in 1878

The numbers of Catholics surged starting in the 1840s as German, Irish, and other Catholics came in large numbers. After 1890 Italians and Poles comprised the largest numbers of new Catholics, but many countries in Europe contributed, as did Quebec. By 1850, Catholics had become the country's largest single denomination. Between 1860 and 1890, their population tripled to seven million.

Some short-lived anti-Catholic political movements appeared: the Know Nothings in the 1840s, American Protective Association in the 1890s, and the Ku Klux Klan in the 1920s, were active in the United States. Animosity by Protestants waned as Catholics demonstrated their patriotism in war, their commitment to charity, and their dedication to democratic values.[57]

The bishops began at standardizing discipline in the American Church with the convocation of the Plenary Councils of Baltimore in 1852, 1866 and 1884. These councils resulted in the promulgation of the Baltimore Catechism and the establishment of The Catholic University of America.

After the Civil War, Catholics were legally treated equally to other religions under the US Constitution with the passage of the 14th Amendment.[58]

Jesuit priests who had been expelled from Europe found a new base in the U.S. They were noted for their schools and colleges, such as Boston College, Georgetown University, and several Loyola Colleges.[59]

In the 1890s the Americanism controversy roiled senior officials. The Vatican suspected there was too much liberalism in the American Church, and the result was a turn to conservative theology as the Irish bishops increasingly demonstrated their total loyalty to the Pope, and traces of liberal thought in the Catholic colleges were suppressed.[60][61]

Nuns and sisters

Nuns and sisters played a major role in American religion, education, nursing and social work since the early 19th century. In Catholic Europe, convents were heavily endowed over the centuries, and were sponsored by the aristocracy. There were very few rich American Catholics, and no aristocrats. Religious orders were founded by entrepreneurial women who saw a need and an opportunity, and were staffed by devout women from poor families. The numbers grew rapidly, from 900 sisters in 15 communities in 1840, 50,000 in 170 orders in 1900, and 135,000 in 300 different orders by 1930. Starting in 1820, the sisters always outnumbered the priests and brothers.[62] Their numbers peaked in 1965 at 180,000 then plunged to 56,000 in 2010. Many women left their orders, and few new members were added.[63]

James Gibbons (1834-1921), cardinal archbishop of Baltimore, was the widely respected leader of American Catholics

On April 8, 2008, Cardinal William Levada, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith under Pope Benedict XVI, met with LCWR leaders in Rome and communicated that the CDF would conduct a doctrinal assessment of the LCWR, expressing concern that the nuns were expressing radical feminist views. According to Laurie Goodstein, the controversial investigation, which was viewed by many U.S. Catholics as a "vexing and unjust inquisition of the sisters who ran the church's schools, hospitals and charities" was ultimately closed in 2015 in meeting with Pope Francis.[64]

20th–21st centuries

By the beginning of the 20th century, approximately one-sixth of the population of the United States was Catholic. Modern Catholic immigrants come to the United States from the Philippines, Poland and Latin America, especially from Mexico. This multiculturalism and diversity has influenced the conduct of Catholicism in the United States. For example, some dioceses say the Mass in both English and Spanish.

When many parishes were set up in the United States, separate churches were built for parishioners from Ireland, Germany, Italy, etc. In Iowa, the development of the Archdiocese of Dubuque, the work of Bishop Loras and the building of St. Raphael's Cathedral, to meet the needs of Germans and Irish, is illustrative.

In 1965, 71% of Catholics attended Mass.[65]

In the later 20th century "[...] the Catholic Church in the United States became the subject of controversy due to allegations of clerical child abuse of children and adolescents, of episcopal negligence in arresting these crimes, and of numerous civil suits that cost Catholic dioceses hundreds of millions of dollars in damages."[66] Because of this, higher scrutiny and governance, as well as protective policies and diocesan investigation into seminaries have been enacted to correct these former abuses of power, and safeguard parishioners and the Church from further abuses and scandals.

One initiative is the "National Leadership Roundtable on Church Management" (NLRCM), a lay-led group born in the wake of the sexual abuse scandal and dedicated to bringing better administrative practices to 194 dioceses that include 19,000 parishes nationwide with some 35,000 lay ecclesial ministers who log 20 hours or more a week in these parishes.[67]

In 2008, 17% of Catholics attended Mass.[65]

Recently John Micklethwait, editor of The Economist and co-author of God Is Back: How the Global Revival of Faith Is Changing the World, said that American Catholicism, which he describes in his book as "arguably the most striking Evangelical success story of the second half of the nineteenth century," has competed quite happily "without losing any of its basic characteristics." It has thrived in America's "pluralism."[68]

In 2011, an estimated 26 million American Catholics were "fallen-away", that is, not practicing their faith. Some religious commentators commonly refer to them as "the second largest religious denomination in the United States."[69] Recent Pew Research survey results in 2014 show about 31.7% of American adults were raised Catholic, while 41% of them no longer identify as Catholic. Thus, 12.9% of those adults have left Catholicism for other religious groups or no affiliation at all.[41]

In a 2015 survey by researchers at Georgetown University, Americans who self identify as Catholic, including those who do not attend Mass regularly, numbered 81.6 million or 25% of the population. 68.1 million or 20% of the American population are Catholics tied to a specific parish. About 25% of US Catholics say they attend Masses once a week or more, and about 38% went at least once a month. The study found that the number of US Catholics has increased by 3 to 6% each decade since 1965, and that the Catholic Church is "the most diverse in terms of race and ethnicity in the US," with Hispanics accounting for 38% of Catholics and blacks and Asians 3% each.[42] Only 2 percent of American Catholics go to confession on a regular basis, while three-quarters of them go to confession once a year or less often.[70]

Servants of God and those declared venerable, beatified, and canonized saints

For a full list of Servants of God and other open causes, see List of American saints and beatified people.

The following are some notable Americans declared as Servants of God, venerables, beatified, and canonized saints:

Servants of God Venerables Beatified Saints
Simon Bruté, Vincent Robert Capodanno, Walter Ciszek, Terence Cardinal Cooke, Dorothy Day, Demetrius Gallitzin, John Hardon, Isaac Hecker, Emil Kapaun, Eusebio Francisco Kino, Rose Hawthorne Lathrop, James Miller, Joseph Muzquiz, Frank Parater, Patrick Peyton, Stanley Rother, Félix Varela, Annella Zervas Nelson Baker, Solanus Casey, Cornelia Connelly, Henriette DeLille, Samuel Charles Mazzuchelli, Michael J. McGivney, Fulton J. Sheen, Pierre Toussaint Teresa Demjanovich, Carlos Manuel Rodriguez, Francis Xavier Seelos Frances Xavier Cabrini, Marianne Cope, Jean de Lalande, Damien De Veuster, Katharine Drexel, Rose Philippine Duchesne, René Goupil, Mother Théodore Guérin, Isaac Jogues, John Neumann, Junípero Serra, Elizabeth Ann Seton, Kateri Tekakwitha

Top eight pilgrimage destinations in the United States

According to The Official Catholic Directory, the following are the top eight Catholic pilgrimage sites in the United States:[71]

Notable American Catholics

For living US bishops, see: List of Catholic bishops of the United States
See also: List of American Catholics

See also


  1. 1 2 Diocese of Reno, 2014-2015 Directory, p72, reports "Total Catholic Population [...] 69,470,686"
  2. 1 2 The Official Catholic Directory 2014, P.J. Kenedy & Sons, p. 2103, quoted by Celebration Guide for the Inaugural Year, Parish Religious Education Week, Nov 1-7, 2015 by National Catholic Educational Association, reports: "Total Catholic population = 69,470,686 individuals"
  4. David Neff, "Global Is Now Local: Princeton's Robert Wuthnow says American congregations are more international than ever," Christianity Today, June 2009, 39.
  5. Richard Middleton, Colonial America (Oxford: Blackwell Publishing, 2003), 387–406.
  6. American Horizons: U.S. History in a Global Context, edited by Michael Schaller, Robert Schulzinger, etc. (New York/Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016,14), 33
  7. Middleton,406–14
  8. Breidenbach, Michael (July 2016). "Conciliarism and the American Founding". William and Mary Quarterly. 73 (3): 467. doi:10.5309/willmaryquar.73.3.0467. JSTOR 10.5309/willmaryquar.73.3.0467.
  9. J. A. Birkhaeuser, "1893 History of the church: from its first establishment to our own times. Designed for the use of ecclesiastical seminaries and colleges, Volume 3"
  14. Yearbook of American and Canadian Churches 2010(Nashville: Abington Press, 2010), 12.
  15. On July 14, 2010, Pope Benedict XVI erected the Syro-Malankara Catholic Exarchate in the United States.
  16. Cheney, David M. "Catholic Church in Puerto Rico". Retrieved 27 July 2009.
  17. Richard McBrien, THE CHURCH/THE EVOLUTION OF CATHOLICISM (New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 2009), 450. Also see: BASIC VATICAN COUNCIL II: THE BASIC SIXTEEN DOCUMENTS (Costello Publishing, 1996).
  18. Ronald Roberson. "The Eastern Catholic Churches 2009" (PDF). Catholic Near East Welfare Association. Retrieved November 2009. Check date values in: |access-date= (help) Information sourced from Annuario Pontificio 2009 edition
  19. McBrien, 241,281, 365,450
  20. 1 2 3 4 5 "Frequently Requested Church Statistics". Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate.
  21. Rocco Palmo, "Vocations crisis? What crisis?, The Tablet, 30 June 2007, 56.
  22. Thomas Healy, "A Blueprint for Change," America 26 September 2005, 14.
  23. Jerry Filteau, "Higher education leaders commit to strengthening Catholic identity," NATIONAL CATHOLIC REPORTER, Vol 47, No. 9, Feb. 18, 2011, 1
  24. Diocese of Reno, 2014-2015 Directory, p72, reports "Colleges and Universities [...] 233" and "Total Students [...] 810,201".
  25. "Georgetown University: History". Georgetown University.
  26. Thomas E. Buckley, "A Mandate for Anti-Catholicism: The Blaine Amendment," America 27 September 2004, 18–21.
  27. Jay P. Dolan, The American Catholic Experience (1985) pp 262-74
  28. Jay P. Dolan, The American Catholic Experience (1985) pp 286-91
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  30. Walsh, Sister Mary Ann (28 August – 10 September 2009). "Catholic health care for a broken arm; a cast and new shoes". Orlando, Florida: The Florida Catholic. p. A11.
  31. Alice Popovici, "Keeping Catholic priorities on the table," National Catholic Reporter 26 June 2009, 7.
  32. "50,000th refugee settled," National Catholic Reporter 24 July 2009, 3.
  33. Michael Sean Winters, "Catholic giving bucks national trend," THE TABLET, 23 October 2010, 32.
  34. Albert J. Mendedez, "American Catholics, A Social and Political Portrait," THE HUMANIST, September/October, 1993, 17-20.
  35. Michael Paulson, "US religious identity is rapidly changing," Boston Globe, February 26, 2008, 1
  36. Ted Olsen, "Go Figure," Christianity Today, April, 2008, 15
  37. Dennis Sadowski, "When parishes close, there is more to deal with than just logistics," National Catholic Reporter 7 July 2009, 6.
  38. Archived March 5, 2005, at the Wayback Machine.
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  41. 1 2 "America's Changing Religious Landscape". Pew Research. May 12, 2015.
  42. 1 2 "Immigration boosting US Catholic numbers". The Manila Times. Agence France-Presse. September 23, 2015.
  43. See each state's Religious Demographic section
  44. Rerum novarum
  45. Catholic Church and capital punishment
  46. Stewardship of God's Creation, Major themes from Catholic Social Teaching, Office for Social Justice, Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis.
  48. The Challenge of Peace: God's Promise and Our Response
  49. Ellis, John Tracy (1956). American Catholicism.
  50. Richard Middleton, Colonial America (2003), 95-100, 145, 158, 159, 349n
  51. Maynard, 126-126
  52. Breidenbach, Michael (July 2016). "Conciliarism and the American Founding". William and Mary Quarterly. 73 (3): 487–88. doi:10.5309/willmaryquar.73.3.0467. JSTOR 10.5309/willmaryquar.73.3.0467.
  53. Theodore Maynard, The Story of American Catholicism (1960), 155.
  54. Maynard, 126-42
  55. Maynard,140–41.
  56. Maynard, 145–46.
  57. Tyler Anbinder, "Nativism and prejudice against immigrants" in Reed Ueda, ed., A companion to American immigration (2006) pp: 177-201.
  58. "Quotation, Overview, and the Constitutions of Arkansas & Maryland". Ontario consultants on religious tolerance. Retrieved 2012-12-03.
  59. Peter McDonough, Men astutely trained: A history of the Jesuits in the American Century (2008).
  60. James Hennessy, S.J., American Catholics: A history of the Roman Catholic community in the United States (1981) pp 194-203
  61. Thomas T. McAvoy, "The Catholic Minority after the Americanist Controversy, 1899-1917: A Survey," Review of Politics, Jan 1959, Vol. 21 Issue 1, pp 53–82 in JSTOR
  62. James M. O'Toole, The Faithful: A History of Catholics in America (2008) p 104
  63. Margaret M. McGuinness, Called to Serve (2013), ch 8
  64. Goodstein, Laurie (2015-04-16). "Vatican ends battle with U.S. Catholic nuns' group". New York: The New York Times.
  65. 1 2 Peterson, Tom (2013). Catholics come home. New York City: Image. p. 23. ISBN 978-0-385-34717-4.
  66. Patrick W. Carey, Catholics in America. A History, Westport, Connecticut and London: Praeger, 2004, p. 141
  67. David Gibson, "Declaration of interdependence," The Tablet 4 July 2009, 8–9.
  68. Austin Ivereigh, "God Makes a Comeback: An Interview with John Micklethwait, America, 5 October 2009, 13–14.
  69. Karen Mahoney (2011-02-23). "Why won't my kids go to church". Archdiocese of Milwaukee Catholic Herald.
  70. AMERICAN SIN: WHY POPE FRANCIS' MERCY IS NOT OUR MERCY Religion Dispatches, Feb 8, 2016
  71. The Official Catholic Directory 2009–2010 Pilgrimage Guide. (New Providence, N.J.: Kenedy and Sons, 2009), 55–63.

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