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WASHINGTON—Culturally diverse parishes are the fastest growing type of parish in the United States, according to a report on Cultural Diversity in Catholic parishes, presented by Archbishop Gustavo García-Siller of San Antonio, chairman of the U.S. Bishops' Committee on Cultural Diversity in the Church. The report was presented during the annual fall General Assembly in Baltimore, November 15.
The Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) conducted the two phase study, commissioned by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Secretariat on Cultural Diversity. "The Catholic Church in the United States has always been a very diverse entity, but it is the first time that all available data was brought together to map this diversity nationwide in remarkable detail," said Archbishop García-Siller. "It is also the first time that parish life was looked at from the point of view of the experience of diversity. Multicultural parishes are a growing phenomenon in the United States. This is what makes this study so fascinating and ground-breaking."
The first phase identified the populations and parishes in the United States that are known to serve specific racial, ethnic, cultural, and/or linguistic groups communities using a variety of sources. In all, 6,332 (36 percent) of parishes were identified as multicultural or as serving particular groups of Catholics.
The recently concluded second phase consisted of in-pew surveys in multicultural parishes across the U.S. Over 11,100 adults completed the survey with topics ranging from race, primary language spoken at home, marital status, sacramental life, parishioner attitudes about cultural diversity, parish understanding of different cultures, welcoming of new parishioners, interacting with priests of different cultural backgrounds, staff reflection of cultural diversity of parishioners, tension between different cultural groups, among other topics. To facilitate and encourage participation, the study was translated into 20 languages at the request of the local pastors.
Some of the key findings, as they relate to religious practices include:
As they relate to the parish experience of diversity for each group, the findings are:
CARA affirms that the study reveals some important trends, and provides the following conclusions:
Archbishop Garcia-Siller, asked the bishops to consider how the data speaks to their local realities and how these findings may affect the way local dioceses plan, set priorities and allocate resources for the continuation of the mission of the Church. He reminded them of Pope Francis' call to a pastoral conversion and to put the entire church in a "permanent state of mission."
The report is available at: www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/cultural-diversity/upload/Cultural-Diversity-Summary-Report-October-2016.pdf.
Keywords: USCCB, U.S. bishops, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, November meeting, Fall General Assembly, Baltimore, Committee on Cultural Diversity in the Church, Archbishop Gustavo García-Siller, cultural diversity, parishes, Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate, CARA, multicultural, in-pew, Hispanic, Latino, Asian, African American, Koreans, European, Mass attendance, returned Catholics
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Norma Montenegro Flynn
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