To follow-up with the previous post based on the Pew Forum’s “Faith in Flux” piece, I would like to react to another observation made about Catholics in the United States. Although one in ten Americans is a former Catholic, the USCCB was right in pointing out that the Catholic Church has a high retention rate (68%). However, the ratio between retention and recruitment is 4-to-1, meaning the people leaving the Catholic Church greatly outnumber the number of people joining the Catholic Church.
Despite the lopsided retention-recruitment ratio, the number of Catholics in the United States has remained about 24%. Why? According to Luis Lugo, Director of the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, “the vast majority of immigrants to the United States are Christian, and by 2-to-1 they are Catholic as opposed to Protestant.” In addition, Latino immigrants (majority Catholic) have much higher fertility rates than US-born Catholics who no longer show higher fertility rates than Protestants.
Just as we need to effectively catechize Catholics who are leaving the Church in the United States, we must find better ways to catechize the Latino Catholics that will soon make up the majority of the Catholics in the United States. “If catechesis is to be effective, all those responsible for it must monitor the rapid changes in social and cultural needs.” (NDC, p. 40, #14)