There’s Something Happening Here
A new article in CRUX highlights the Vatican's new emphasis on America’s Hispanics (here). The article says that 50% of millennial Catholics are Hispanics. This is incredible in a group that formerly was almost entirely ethnic whites. Nationwide, only 22% of millennials are Hispanic. This means that traditional Catholics have left the Church in droves.
As Buffalo Springfield said, “There’s something happening here. What it is ain’t exactly clear” (video here). This loss is strange for a number of reasons. First, the child abuse scandals didn’t seem to have much of an effect. The flock remained loyal and accepted the Church’s excuses. Second, Pope Francis is enormously popular – even with non-Catholics.
I suspect there was a delayed reaction to the abuse scandal. After losing many law suits, the Church chose to close parishes rather than pay their legal liabilities (and meet its moral responsibility). They screwed entire communities of their loyal flock, eventually persuading many to leave the Church. Some were probably also influenced by the disclosure of atrocities in Ireland, where the Church abused its power for ages. Or perhaps millennials are simply more open to reason than their parents.
While the Church refuses to disclose its finances, it is well known that the U.S. provides much of its funding. Losing their flock no doubt resulted in a loss of funds - a real crisis. I suspect this was a major impetus behind Amoris Laetitia, which effectively changes traditional rules in an attempt to retain, and perhaps win back, some of its wayward flock.
The Church has already lost much of its European flock. Were it to suffer similar losses in the U.S., it might actually have to keep its vow of poverty. I suspect the Church will take extraordinary measures to prevent this.