Guest / Limited Access /

Mexican Catholic Enrique Bucio arrived in suburban Chicago from Michoacan state with his wife and daughter 13 years ago. But he didn't look for a church, because he was afraid of "going to the wrong one."

"Back on the ranch, we heard from people who had been to the United States and had bad experiences," says Bucio, 43. "A friend said that at one church he visited, they introduced him, and everything seemed directed at him. It was a little strange."

They also found it strange that money in the offering basket went right back to those in the congregation. Bucio doesn't know what kind of church his countryman visited, but it wasn't the Roman Catholic service he and his friends were accustomed to.

Like many of the immigrants that helped Latinos become the largest U.S. minority last month (37 million, versus 36.1 million African Americans), Bucio found himself awash in religious options. He and his family don't attend church regularly. But when they do, they go to a Spanish-language Catholic service in Bloomingdale, Illinois. That's where his brother brought him when Bucio still had no car.

Despite a growth spurt in Hispanic Protestant services and a steady departure of Latinos from Catholic parishes, Bucio is illustrative of many immigrants from Latin America who default to the familiar. Contrary to popular belief and previous predictions, the percentage of Catholics among Latinos since 1988 has remained fairly constant. In 2002, 70.2 percent (nearly 25 million) of all U.S. Hispanics identified themselves as Roman Catholics.

That is the conclusion of a study released last week by Hispanic Churches in American Public Life (HCAPL). Gaston Espinosa, project manager for ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

Support Christian thought journalism. Donate to our nonprofit ministry today.
Read These NextSee Our Latest
Current Issue‘Grace Alone’ 500 Years Later
Subscriber Access Only
‘Grace Alone’ 500 Years Later
A Catholic perspective.
RecommendedTrump’s Policies Are Keeping Hispanics Away from Church
Trump’s Policies Are Keeping Hispanics Away from Church
Pew finds fear even among 7 in 10 Christian green card holders.
TrendingRussia’s Plan to Ban Jehovah’s Witnesses Puts Evangelicals in a Tight Spot
Russia’s Plan to Ban Jehovah’s Witnesses Puts Evangelicals in a Tight Spot
Group gives Protestants competition for souls, but also an ally on religious freedom.
Editor's PickAn Inside Look at China’s Remarkable Religious Resurgence
An Inside Look at China’s Remarkable Religious Resurgence
Journalist Ian Johnson sees faith on the rise where it was once ruthlessly suppressed.
Christianity Today
Despite Protestant Growth, Hispanic Catholicism Holds Steady in ...
hide thisAccess The Archives

In the Archives

February 2003

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.