Saturday, April 15, 2006

The Asian American priest and the Hispanic pastor   posted by Razib @ 4/15/2006 08:01:00 PM

Last fall when I read a spate of books on Catholicism in the United States I noted that many scholars perceive 1960 to be the "high point" of organized American Roman Catholicism. John Kennedy was elected, and Roman Catholics were no longer viewed as the papist "Other," but neither were they embroiled in the culture wars. How things change....

As some of you know, Asian Americans, specifically Filipinos and Vietnamese, make up 12% of seminary students. But what about Hispanics? 15% of seminarians are Hispanic. Assume that 25% of America's Asian Americans are Catholic (less than 50% are Christian), they are around 4% of the population. Hispanics are 60% Roman Catholic and around 12% of the population. These numbers imply that Hispanics are around 25% of American's Catholics, while Asians are 4%. From One Nation Under God (1994), page 139:

The church's rigorous entrance examinations and long preparation time are undoubtedly barriers to entry into the priesthood for low-income Hispanics. In contrast, Protestant denominations place less stress on academic requirements and more emphasis on spiritual anointing. Consequently, about three times as many Hispanics are enrolled in Protestant seminaries and schools of theology as in Catholic seminaries.

In the past the Roman Catholic Church in the United States was pretty resistant to any demand to make priests somewhat representative of the parish. Italian parishioners resentful of their Irish priests seems to be part of ethnic American lore. We'll see if the modern Catholic Church has the will to resist the cultural zeitgeist of proportionalism.