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The Catholic Church in the United States is part of the worldwide Catholic Church. With 78.2 million self-identified members, it is the largest single religious denomination in the United States, comprising 25 percent of the population. The United States has the fourth largest Catholic population in the world, after Brazil, Mexico, and the Philippines. It is also the largest Catholic minority population, and the largest Anglophone Catholic population.
Catholicism arrived in what is now the United States during the earliest days of the European colonization of the Americas. The first Catholic missionaries were Spanish, having come with Christopher Columbus to the New World on his second voyage in 1493. Subsequently, Spanish missionaries established missions in what are now Florida, Georgia, Texas, New Mexico, California, and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. French colonization came later, in the early 18th century, with the French establishing missions in French Louisiana: St. Louis, New Orleans, Biloxi, Mobile, the Alabamas, Natchez, Yazoo, Natchitoches, Arkansas, Illinois, and Michigan.
The number of Catholics has grown during the country's history, at first slowly in the early 19th century through some immigration and through the acquisition of territories (formerly possessions of France, Spain, and Mexico) with predominately Catholic populations. In the mid-19th century, a rapid influx of immigrants from Europe (Irish, German, Polish and Italian) made Catholicism the largest religion in the United States. This increase of Catholics was met by widespread prejudice and hostility, often resulting in riots and the burning of churches, convents, and seminary. The anti-Catholic nativist Know Nothing movement was first founded in the mid 19th century by Lewis Charles Levin and others in an attempt to restrict Catholic immigration. This party believed that the United States was a Protestant nation and the influx of Catholics threatened its purity and mission, even its very existence. Other anti-Catholic political movements followed in the violent tradition of the Know Nothings, including the American Protective Association, OUAM, JrOUAM, and the second Ku Klux Klan among others.
Since the 1960s, the percentage of Americans who are Catholic has stayed roughly the same, at around 25%, due in large part to increases in the Hispanic, especially Mexican American, population over the same period which balanced losses of self-identifying Catholics among other groups.
Catholics gather as local communities called parishes, usually headed by a priest, and typically meet at a permanent church building for liturgies every Sunday and on holy days. Within the 195 geographical dioceses and archdioceses (excluding the Archdiocese for the Military Services), there are 17,644 local Catholic parishes in the United States. The Catholic Church has the third highest total number of local congregations in the US behind Southern Baptists and United Methodists. However, the average Catholic parish is significantly larger than the average Baptist or Methodist congregation; there are more than four times as many Catholics as Southern Baptists and more than eight times as many Catholics as United Methodists.
Currently, 7 dioceses/eparchies are vacant (sede vacante):
Eastern Catholic Churches are churches with origins in Eastern Europe, Asia and Africa that have their own distinctive liturgical, legal and organizational systems and are identified by the national or ethnic character of their region of origin. Each is considered fully equal to the Latin tradition within the church. In the United States, there are 15 Eastern church dioceses (called eparchies) and two Eastern church archdioceses (or archeparchies), the Byzantine Catholic Archeparchy of Pittsburgh and the Ukrainian Catholic Archeparchy of Philadelphia.
The apostolic exarchate for the Syro-Malankara Catholic Church in the United States is headed by a bishop who is a member of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. An apostolic exarchate is the Eastern Catholic Church equivalent of an apostolic vicariate. It is not a full-fledged diocese/eparchy, but is established by the Holy See for the pastoral care of Eastern Catholics in an area outside the territory of the Eastern Catholic Church to which they belong. It is headed by a bishop or a priest with the title of exarch.
The Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of Saint Peter was established January 1, 2012, to serve former Anglican groups and clergy in the United States who sought to become Catholic. Similar to a diocese though national in scope, the ordinariate is based in Houston, Texas and includes parishes and communities across the United States that are fully Catholic, while retaining elements of their Anglican heritage and traditions.
As of 2013[update], 9 dioceses out of 195 are vacant (sede vacante). Another seven bishops, including three Archbishops and one Cardinal, are past the retirement age of 75.
The central leadership body of the Catholic Church in the United States is the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, made up of the hierarchy of bishops (including archbishops) of the United States and the U.S. Virgin Islands, although each bishop is independent in his own diocese, answerable only to the Holy See. The USCCB elects a president to serve as their administrative head, but he is in no way the "head" of the Church or of Catholics in the United States. In addition to the 195 dioceses and one exarchate represented in the USCCB, there are several dioceses in the nation's other four overseas dependencies. In the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, the bishops in the six dioceses (one metropolitan archdiocese and five suffragan dioceses) form their own episcopal conference, the Conferencia Episcopal Puertorriqueña. The bishops in US insular areas in the Pacific Ocean—the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, the Territory of American Samoa, and the Territory of Guam—are members of the Episcopal Conference of the Pacific.
No primate exists for Catholics in the United States. In the 1850s, the Archdiocese of Baltimore was acknowledged a Prerogative of Place, which confers to its archbishop some of the leadership responsibilities granted to primates in other countries. The Archdiocese of Baltimore was the first diocese established in the United States, in 1789, with John Carroll (1735–1815) as its first bishop. It was, for many years, the most influential diocese in the fledgling nation. Now, however, the United States has several large archdioceses and a number of cardinal-archbishops.
By far, most Catholics in the United States belong to the Latin Church and the Roman Rite of the Catholic Church. Rite generally refers to the form of worship ("liturgical rite") in a church community owing to cultural and historical differences as well as differences in practice. However, the Vatican II document, Orientalium Ecclesiarum ("Of the Eastern Churches"), acknowledges that these Eastern Catholic communities are "true Churches" and not just rites within the Catholic Church. There are 14 other Churches in the United States (23 within the global Catholic Church) which are in communion with Rome, fully recognized and valid in the eyes of the Catholic Church. They have their own bishops and eparchies. The largest of these communities in the U.S. is the Chaldean Catholic Church. Most of these Churches are of Eastern European and Middle Eastern origin. Eastern Catholic Churches are distinguished from Eastern Orthodox, identifiable by their usage of the term Catholic.
There are 19 U.S. cardinals.
Five cardinals currently lead U.S. archdioceses
Three cardinals are not currently diocesan bishops:
Eleven cardinals are retired:
There are 454 active and retired Catholic bishops in the United States:
270 active bishops:
184 retired bishops:
The Church has over 41,406 diocesan and religious-order priests in the United States; over 30,000 lay ministers (80 percent of them women); 17,000 men who are ordained as permanent deacons in the United States (a permanent deacon is a man, either married or single, who is ordained to the order of deacons, the first of three ranks in ordained ministry; they assist priests in administrative and pastoral roles); 63,032 sisters; 5,040 brothers; 16 US cardinals; 424 active and retired US bishops; and 5,029 seminarians enrolled in the United States. Overall, it employs more than one million employees with an operating budget of nearly $100 billion to run parishes, diocesan primary and secondary schools, nursing homes, retreat centers, diocesan hospitals, and other charitable institutions. Catholic schools educate 2.7 million students in the United States, employing 150,000 teachers.
Leadership in the Church in the United States falls to its bishops. They are the shepherds of particular cities and their surrounding areas, called dioceses or sees. There is one non-territorial diocese in the United States for Catholics in the armed forces. There are approximately 430 bishops and archbishops who shepherd the nation's 195 dioceses and archdioceses. Each diocese is led by one bishop, known as its ordinary. Some dioceses (usually those that are larger) also have auxiliary bishops who help the ordinary. Some also have a retired bishop still in residence. It is possible for a diocese to be temporarily without a bishop (called a "vacant see") if the ordinary is transferred to a new diocese or dies without a named successor. Dioceses are grouped together geographically into provinces, usually within a state, part of a state, or multiple states together (see map below). A province comprises several dioceses which look to one ordinary bishop (usually of the most populous or historically influential diocese/city) for guidance and leadership. This lead bishop is their archbishop and his diocese is the archdiocese. The archbishop is called the 'metropolitan' bishop who oversees his brother 'suffragan' bishops. The subordinate dioceses are likewise called suffragan dioceses. There are currently 33 metropolitan archbishops in the United States. According to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops's website, there are 270 active Catholic bishops in the United States (5 Cardinal Archbishops, 1 Coadjutor Archbishop, 154 Diocesan Bishops, 73 Auxiliary Bishops, and 9 Apostolic or Diocesan Administrators) and there are 180 retired Catholic bishops in the United States (10 retired Cardinal Archbishops, 24 retired Archbishops, 94 retired Diocesan Bishops, 52 retired Auxiliary Bishops). Also according to the USCCB's website, there are 19 U.S. cardinals (five cardinals currently lead U.S. archdioceses, three cardinals are not currently diocesan bishops, and eleven cardinals are retired).
Some bishops are created Cardinals by the pope. These are usually conferred upon bishop of influential or significant dioceses - or upon bishops who have distinguished themselves in a particular area of service. As of August 2011[update], there are 19 American cardinals. Not all reside in the United States or are diocesan ordinaries. Five are sitting archbishops: of Boston, Chicago, Galveston-Houston, New York and Washington D.C.. Eleven are retired Archbishops emeritus: of Baltimore, Boston, Denver, Detroit (two), Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco, and Washington D.C. (two). Three work in Rome with the Roman Curia, and one is retired from service in Rome without serving as a diocesan ordinary in the US.
According to the 2010 Official Catholic Directory, as of 2009 there were 189 seminaries with 5,131 students in the United States; 3,319 diocesan seminarians and 1,812 religious seminarians. By the official 2011 statistics, there are 5,247 seminarians (3,394 diocesan and 1,853 religious) in the United States. In addition, the American Catholic bishops oversee the Pontifical North American College for American seminarians and priests studying at one of the Pontifical Universities in Rome.
According to the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities, there are approximately 230 Roman Catholic universities and colleges in the United States with nearly 1 million students and some 65,000 professors. The national university of the Church, founded by the nation's bishops in 1887, is The Catholic University of America in Washington, DC.
By the middle of the 19th century, the Catholics in larger cities started building their own parochial school system. The main impetus was fear that exposure to Protestant teachers in the public schools, and Protestant fellow students, would lead to a loss of faith. Protestants reacted by strong opposition to any public funding of parochial schools. The Catholics nevertheless built their elementary schools, parish by parish, using very low paid sisters as teachers.
In the classrooms, the highest priorities were piety, orthodoxy, and strict discipline. Knowledge of the subject matter was a minor concern, and in the late 19th century few of the teachers in parochial schools had gone beyond the 8th grade themselves. The sisters came from numerous denominations, and there was no effort to provide joint teachers training programs. The bishops were indifferent. Finally around 1911, led by the Catholic University in Washington, Catholic colleges began summer institutes to train the sisters in pedagogical techniques. Long past World War II, the Catholic schools were noted for inferior conditions compared to the public schools, and less well-trained teachers.
In 2002, Catholic health care systems, overseeing 625 hospitals with a combined revenue of 30 billion dollars, comprised the nation's largest group of nonprofit systems. In 2008, the cost of running these hospitals had risen to $84.6 billion, including the $5.7 billion they donate. According to the Catholic Health Association of the United States, 60 health care systems, on average, admit one in six patients nationwide each year.
Catholic Charities is active as one of the largest voluntary social service networks in the United States. In 2009, it welcomed in New Jersey the 50,000th refugee to come to the United States from Burma, officially the Union of Myanmar. Likewise, the US Bishops' Migration and Refugee Services has resettled 14,846 refugees from Burma since 2006. In 2010 Catholic Charities USA was one of only four charities among the top 400 charitable organizations to witness an increase in donations in 2009, according to a survey conducted by The Chronicle of Philanthropy.
The church had a role in shaping the U.S. labor movement, due to the involvement of priests like Charles Owen Rice and John P. Boland. The activism of Msgr. Geno Baroni was instrumental in creating The Catholic Campaign for Human Development.
There are 69,436,660 registered Catholics in the United States (22% of the US population) according to the American Bishops' count in their Official Catholic Directory 2013. This count primarily rests on the parish assessment tax which pastors evaluate yearly according to the number of registered members and contributors. Estimates of the overall American Catholic population from recent years generally range around 20% to 28%. According to Albert J. Menedez, research director of "Americans for Religious Liberty," many Americans continue to call themselves Catholic but "do not register at local parishes for a variety of reasons." According to a survey of 35,556 American residents (released in 2008 by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life), 23.9% of Americans identify themselves as Catholic (approximately 72 million of a national population of 306 million residents). The study notes that 10% of those people who identify themselves as Protestant in the interview are former Catholics and 8% of those who identity themselves as Catholic are former Protestants, which, considering the Protestant population is considerably larger, shows a net loss of Catholics to Protestantism. Nationally, more parishes have opened than closed.
The northeastern quadrant of the US (i.e., New England, Mid-Atlantic, East North Central, and West North Central) has seen a decline in the number of parishes since 1970, but parish numbers are up in the other five regions (i.e., South Atlantic, East South Central, West South Central, Pacific, and Mountain regions). Catholics in the US are about 6% of the church's total worldwide 1.2 billion membership.
A poll by The Barna Group in 2004 found Catholic ethnicity to be 60% non-Hispanic white (generally of mixed ethnicity, but almost always includes at least one Catholic ethnicity such as Irish, Italian, German, Polish, or French), 31% Hispanic of any race (mostly Mexicans), 4% Black, and 5% other ethnicity (mostly Filipinos and other Asian Americans, and American Indians).[dead link]
Between 1990 and 2008, there were 11 million additional Catholics. The growth in the Latino population accounted for 9 million of these. They comprised 32% of all American Catholics in 2008 as opposed to 20% in 1990.
There has never been a Catholic religious party in the United States, either local, state or national, similar to Christian Democratic parties in Europe and Latin America. Since the election of the Catholic John F. Kennedy as President in 1960, Catholics have split about 50-50 between the two major parties. On social issues the Catholic Church takes strong positions against abortion, which was partly legalized in 1973 by the Supreme Court, and same-sex marriage, which has been approved in 16 states and the District of Columbia as of November, 2013. The Church also condemns embryo-destroying research and in vitro fertilization as immoral. The Church is allied with conservative Protestant evangelicals on these issues. However, the Catholic Church throughout its history has taken special concern for all vulnerable groups. This has led to progressive alliances, as well, with the church championing causes such as a strong welfare state, unionization, immigration for those fleeing economic or political hardship, environmental stewardship, and critical evaluation of modern warfare. The Catholic Church's teachings, coming from the perspective of a global church, do not conform easily to the American political binary of "liberals" and "conservatives."
Catholicism first came to the territories now forming the Continental United States before the Protestant Reformation and Catholic Reformation with the Spanish explorers and settlers in present-day Florida (1513) and the southwest United States. The first Catholic Mass held in the current United States was in 1526 by Dominican friars Fr. Antonio de Montesinos and Fr. Anthony de Cervantes, who ministered to the San Miguel de Gualdape colonists for the 3 months the colony existed. Nearly 40 years later, the first permanent European colony was established at St. Augustine, Florida, in 1565. The influence of the Spanish missions in California (1769 and onwards), in Texas (1718) and New Mexico (1590) form a lasting memorial to part of this heritage. In the French territories, Catholicism was ushered in with the establishment of colonies, forts and missions in Sault Ste. Marie (1668), Biloxi, Baton Rouge (1699), Detroit (1701), Mobile, Alabama (1702), New Orleans (1718), and St. Louis (1763). As early as 1604, the French established a site in Maine on Saint Croix Island, but it was short-lived. Catholicism in the Spanish (East and West Florida) and French (eastern Louisiana/Quebec) colonies was undisturbed under later administration by Britain.
Most English colonies had official established churches; none of which were Catholic. In fact, some English colonies had anti-Catholic laws and anti-Catholicism was rampant. Maryland was founded by Lord Baltimore as the first 'non-denominational' colony and was the first to accommodate Catholics. In 1650, the Puritans in the colony rebelled and repealed the Act of Toleration. Catholicism was outlawed and Catholic priests were hunted and exiled. By 1658, the rebellion had been suppressed and the Act of Toleration was reinstated.
English Catholics reintroduced Catholicism with the settling of Maryland (1634). This was a rare example of religious toleration in a fairly intolerant age. In 1649 the Maryland Toleration Act was enacted; it was repealed five years after passage, in 1654. In Maryland in 1690 Cecilius Calvert, the second Lord Baltimore came under attack for sponsoring Catholics and his failure to declare for William III and Mary II. Later, Baltimore was stripped of his political power (but not his property rights). The Calvinist and Anglican majority in Maryland assured Protestant control. By 1785, Catholics in the U.S. numbered 35,000, less than two percent of the white population.
The first permanent European settlement in what is now the continental United States was St. Augustine, Florida, founded by Spain. The period 1635–1675 proved to be the most successful mission period. During these years Franciscans operated between forty and seventy mission stations, catering for perhaps 26,000 Christian natives, who were organized into four provinces: Timucua in central Florida, Guale along the Georgia coast, Apalachee on the northeastern edge of the gulf, and Apalachicola to the west. By 1820, when it became part of the United States, there were no churches or missions in operation and the Catholic population had almost entirely disappeared from Florida.
Beginning in 1768, the Franciscan order, under the leadership of Fray Junipero Serra, founded 21 California missions along the coast, notably in San Diego, Sonoma, Santa Clara, Carmel, Mission Hills, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. California's oldest stone building is the Cathedral of San Carlos Borromeo in Monterey, completed in 1794. By 1840, the Catholic population in California had grown to the point that a diocese was established, the Diocese of the Two Californias, which became the Diocese of Monterey after California was annexed by the United States following the Mexican American War.
In the early 1590s, Juan de Onate approached King Philip II of Spain for a commission to colonize the area of New Mexico and convert the Native Peoples. Within a ten-year period, the original expedition of 500 people, including 130 soldiers, ten Franciscans, and the remaining Spanish colonists—men, women and children—founded Santa Fe.
In 1718, the French established permanent villages in the Mississippi Valley, from Wisconsin to New Orleans.
Compared to the Spanish, the French were more practical in their attitudes toward the Native Peoples. While they attempted to convert the natives, they did not have the same need to impose absolute obedience and conformity. The priests, mainly Jesuits, were content to introduce them to Christianity in stages, allowing them to keep their traditional customs to emphasize the similarities between their Native beliefs and Christianity. In work or labor, there was no attempt to extract forced labor, encouraging Natives to bring their furs for French goods. There was intermarriage between the French and Native Peoples. This symbiotic relationship helped align most of the Natives west of the Allegheny mountains to the French.
In Louisiana, black slaves managed to develop their own culture, consisting of a mixture of European and African backgrounds. Many blacks became Catholic, adopting the religion of their masters.
When the English colonies declared independence in 1776 — the 13 English-speaking colonies on the eastern seaboard — only a small fraction of the population was Catholic (largely in Maryland) Catholics formed 1.6% of the 2.5 million population of the thirteen colonies.
Irish Catholics rarely immigrated to the colonies. At one time or another, five colonies excluded Catholics from the franchise: Virginia, New York, Maryland, Rhode Island, and South Carolina. Throughout the Revolution American Catholic priests remained under the jurisdiction of the Bishop of the London District. After the war Rome made entirely new arrangements for the creation of an American diocese under American bishops. Numerous Catholics served in the American army. Thomas Fitzsimons was Washington's secretary and aide-de-camp. General Moylan was quartermaster general and afterwards in command of a cavalry regiment. John Barry is regarded as the father of the American navy. Another notable was Thomas Lloyd.
The French alliance had a considerable effect upon the tolerance of the Catholic Church. Washington, for example, issued strict orders in 1775 that "Pope's Day," the colonial equivalent of Guy Fawkes Night, was not to be celebrated, lest the sensibilities of the French should be offended. Massachusetts sent a chaplain to the French fleet when it arrived. And when the French fleet appeared at Newport, Rhode Island, that colony repealed its act of 1664 that refused citizenship to Catholics. Foreign officers who served, either as soldiers of fortune in the American army or with the French allies, put the Revolution in debt to Catholics, especially owing to Count Marquis de Lafayette, Casimir Pulaski, De Grasse, Jean-Baptiste Donatien de Vimeur, comte de Rochambeau, and Charles Hector, comte d'Estaing.
In 1787 two Catholics, Daniel Carroll and Thomas Fitzsimons, were members of the Continental Congress that met in Philadelphia to help frame the new United States Constitution. Four years later, in 1791, the First Amendment to the American Constitution was ratified. This amendment included the wording, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof..." This amendment officially granted freedom of religion to all American citizens, and began the eventual repeal of all anti-Catholic laws from the statute books of all of the new American states.
Following the Revolutionary War the Jesuit Fathers under the leadership of John Carroll, S.J. called several meetings of the clergy for the purpose of organizing the Catholic Church in America. The meetings, called the General Chapters, took place in 1783 and were held at White Marsh Plantation (now Sacred Heart Church in Bowie, MD). Deliberations of the General Chapters led to the appointment of John Carroll by the Vatican as Prefect Apostolic, making him superior of the missionary church in the thirteen states, and to the first plans for Georgetown University. Also at White Marsh, the priests of the new nation elected John Carroll as the first American bishop on May 18, 1789.
The number of Catholics in the Continental United States increased almost overnight with the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, the Adams–Onís Treaty (purchasing Florida) in 1819, and in 1847 with the incorporation of the northern territories of Mexico into the United States (Mexican Cession) at the end of the Mexican–American War. Catholics formed the majority in these continental areas and had been there for centuries. Most Catholics were descendants of the original settlers, dating back to the 16th and 17th centuries, benefiting in the Southwest, for example, from the livestock industry introduced by Jesuit priest Eusebio Kino in 1687. However, US Catholics increased most dramatically and significantly in the latter half of the 19th century and the early 20th century due to a massive influx of European immigrants from Ireland, Italy, Germany (especially the south and west), Austria–Hungary, and the Russian Empire (largely Poles). Substantial numbers of Catholics came from French Canada during the mid-19th century and settled in New England. Although these ethnic groups tended to live and worship apart initially, over time they intermarried so that, in modern times, many Catholics are descended from more than one ethnicity.
By 1850, Catholics had become the country’s largest single denomination. Between 1860 and 1890, their population in the United States tripled through immigration; by the end of the decade it would reach seven million. This influx would eventually bring increased political power for the Catholic Church and a greater cultural presence, which led simultaneously to a growing fear of the Catholic "menace" among America's Protestants.
Some anti-Catholic political movements like the Know Nothings, and organizations like the Orange Institution, American Protective Association, and the Ku Klux Klan, were active in the United States. Indeed, for most of the history of the United States, Catholics have been victims of discrimination and persecution. It was not until the time of the Presidency of John F. Kennedy in the following century that Catholics lived in the US largely free of suspicion. The Philadelphia Nativist Riot, Bloody Monday, the Orange Riots in New York City in 1871 and 1872, and The Ku Klux Klan-ridden South discriminated against Catholics (as they did the Jews and African Americans) for their commonly Irish, Italian, Polish, German, or Spanish ethnicity. Many Protestants in the Midwest and the North labeled Catholics as "anti-American Papists", "incapable of free thought without the approval of the Pope." During the Mexican-American War, Mexicans were portrayed as "backward" because of their "Papist superstition". In reaction to this attitude, some hundred American Catholics, mostly recent Irish immigrants, fought on the Mexican side in the Saint Patrick's Battalion. However, the majority of Catholic soldiers (primarily Irish born), along with their chaplains like John McElroy (Jesuit), who later founded Boston College, proved loyal to the American side as General Winfield Scott noted in a private letter to William Robinson after the war.
In 1850, Franklin Pierce, as the US Attorney for the District of New Hampshire, presented resolutions for the removal of restrictions on Catholics from holding office in that state, as well as the removal of property qualifications for voting; however, these pro-Catholic measures were submitted to the electorate and were unsurprisingly defeated. As the 19th century progressed, animosity between Protestants and Catholics waned. Many Protestant Americans came to understand that, despite anti-Catholic rhetoric, Catholics were not trying to seize control of the government. Another reason was that many Irish-Catholic immigrants fought alongside their Protestant compatriots in the American Civil War on both sides. Nonetheless, concerns continued into the 20th century that there was too much "Catholic influence" on the government.
400 Italian Jesuit priests left Italy for the American West between 1848-1919. Most of these Jesuits left their homeland involuntarily, expelled by Italian nationalists in the successive waves of Italian unification that dominated Italy. When they came to the West, they ministered to Indians in the Northwest, Irish-Americans in San Francisco and Mexican Americans in the South West; they also ran the nation's most influential Catholic seminary, in Woodstock, Md. In addition to their pastoral work, they founded numerous high schools and colleges, including Creighton University, Saint Louis University, Regis University, Santa Clara University, the University of San Francisco, Gonzaga University and Seattle University.
In the latter half of the 19th century, the first attempt at standardizing discipline in the American Church occurred with the convocation of the Plenary Councils of Baltimore. These councils resulted in the promulgation of the Baltimore Catechism and the establishment of The Catholic University of America.
Nuns and sisters played a major role in American religion, education, nursing and social work since the early 19th century. In Catholic Europe, convents were heavily endowed over the centuries, and were sponsored by the aristocracy. There were very few rich American Catholics, and no aristocrats. Religious orders were founded by entrepreneurial women who saw a need and an opportunity, and were staffed by devout women from poor families. The numbers grew rapidly, from 900 sisters in 15 communities in 1840, 250,000 in 170 orders in 1900, and hundred and 35,000 in 300 different orders by 1930. Starting in 1820, the sisters always outnumbered the priests and brothers. Their numbers peaked in 1965 at 180,000 then plunged to 56,000 in 2010. Many women left their orders, and few new members were added.
Americanism was considered a serious heresy by the Vatican, meant Catholic endorsement of the policy of separation of church and state. Rome feared that such a heresy was held by some Catholic leaders in the United States, such as Isaac Hecker, and bishops John Keane, John Ireland, and John Lancaster Spalding, as well as the magazines Catholic World and Ave Marie. The true Catholic belief was close support of the Catholic Church by a government. Allegations were made by German American Catholic bishops in the Midwest, who are distrustful of the Irish to increasingly dominated the American Catholic Church.. The Vatican grew alarmed in the 1890s, and the Pope issued an encyclical denouncing Americanism in theory. There was little damage done, but the Irish Catholics increasingly demonstrated their total loyalty to the Pope, and traces of liberal thought in the Catholic colleges were suppressed. Bottom it was a cultural conflict, as the conservative Europeans were specs stated by the heavy attacks on the Catholic church in Germany, France and other countries, and did not appreciate the active individualism self-confidence and optimism of the American church.
By the beginning of the 20th century, approximately one-sixth of the population of the United States was Catholic. Modern Catholic immigrants come to the United States from the Philippines, Poland and Latin America, especially from Mexico. This multiculturalism and diversity has greatly impacted the flavor of Catholicism in the United States. For example, many dioceses serve in both English and Spanish. When many parishes were set up in the United States, separate churches were built for parishioners from Ireland, Germany, Italy, etc. In Iowa, the development of the Archdiocese of Dubuque, the work of Bishop Loras and the building of St. Raphael's Cathedral illustrate this point.
In the later 20th century "[...] the Catholic Church in the United States became the subject of controversy due to allegations of clerical child abuse of children and adolescents, of episcopal negligence in arresting these crimes, and of numerous civil suits that cost Catholic dioceses hundreds of millions of dollars in damages." Because of this, higher scrutiny and governance, as well as protective policies and diocesan investigation into seminaries have been enacted to correct these former abuses of power, and safeguard parishioners and the Church from further abuses and scandals. Many see in these reforms (along with Vatican II) signs of a new era of lay initiative and collaboration.
One initiative is the "National Leadership Roundtable on Church Management" (NLRCM), a lay-led group born in the wake of the sexual abuse scandal and dedicated to bringing better administrative practices to 194 dioceses that include 19,000 parishes nationwide with some 35,000 lay ecclesial ministers who log 20 hours or more a week in these parishes.
Recently John Micklethwait, editor of The Economist and co-author of God Is Back: How the Global Revival of Faith Is Changing the World, said that American Catholicism, which he describes in his book as "arguably the most striking Evangelical success story of the second half of the nineteenth century," has competed quite happily "without losing any of its basic characteristics." It has thrived in America's "pluralism."
In 2011, an estimated 26 million American Catholics were "fallen-away", that is, not practicing their faith. Church leaders commonly refer to them as "the second largest religious denomination in the United States."
For a full list of Servants of God and other open causes, see List of American saints and beatified people.
The following are some notable American Servants of God, Venerables, Beatified, and Saints of the US:
|Servants of God||Venerables||Beatified||Saints|
|Vincent Robert Capodanno, Dorothy Day, Demetrius Gallitzin, Isaac Hecker, Eusebio Francisco Kino, Emil Kapaun, Rose Hawthorne Lathrop, Frank Parater, Patrick Peyton, Terence Cardinal Cooke, Annella Zervas, John Hardon, Walter Ciszek, Simon Bruté, Félix Varela, Stanley Rother, James Miller||Nelson Baker, Solanus Casey, Cornelia Connelly, Henriette DeLille, Samuel Charles Mazzuchelli, Michael J. McGivney, Fulton J. Sheen, Pierre Toussaint||Carlos Manuel Rodriguez, Francis Xavier Seelos, Junípero Serra||Frances Xavier Cabrini, Marianne Cope, Jean de Lalande, Damien De Veuster, Katharine Drexel, Rose Philippine Duchesne, René Goupil, Mother Théodore Guérin, Isaac Jogues, John Neumann, Elizabeth Ann Seton, Kateri Tekakwitha|
According to The Official Catholic Directory, the following are the top eight Catholic pilgrimage sites in the United States: