How are Latinos Changing Catholic Communities in the U.S.?


The Latino influence on U.S. Catholic Church is a backdrop for Pope Francis’ visit to the United States. (Los Angeles Times)

Asses the religious landscape of the U.S. with MapMaker Interactive’s “Major Religions” layer.

Teachers, scroll down for a quick list of key resources, including today’s simple MapMaker Interactive map.

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Discussion Ideas


  • What historic and contemporary immigration patters influenced this religious landscape?
    • Historic: According to the L.A. Times, “The bedrock of American Catholicism for generations was in East Coast strongholds from Boston to Baltimore, where Irish, Polish, German and Italian immigrants dominated the church.”
    • Contemporary: The west’s growing Catholic communities have largely been influenced by immigration from Latin America, primarily Mexico and Central America.



  • If Latinos make up the majority of the U.S. Catholic population, why is the church concerned with bolstering the community’s growth?
    • According to the L.A. Times, “The number of Latinos who consider themselves Catholic has actually declined in recent years, from 67% in 2010 to 55% in 2015.” The growth of Latino Catholic communities may reflect a growth in Latino communities overall.
      • Younger people are “choosing their own forms of private spirituality, or abandoning religion altogether.”
      • Older people are leaving Catholicism for more evangelical branches of Christianity.



Los Angeles Times: Latino influence on Catholic Church is a backdrop to Pope Francis’ visit

Nat Geo: Who Are U.S. Catholics? Numbers Show a Surprising Shift

Nat Geo: Where is Pope Francis Visiting? map

Nat Geo: Major Religions of the World map

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