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Pew survey lists facts about US Catholics

Old White Couple in Church

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J-P Mauro - published on 04/17/24

The data shows a majority white, aging church with low levels of faith practice, moderate levels of education, but evenly spread across the country.

A new report from Pew Research Center is listing various facts about Catholics and Catholicism in America. While normal Pew surveys tend to ask a series of questions related to a particular topic, this report touches on a wide range of Catholic topics, with most of the data ranging from the 2000s to 2020s. 

The report presented nine facts about US Catholics, beginning with what is often the most tantalizing question: What percentage of the US is Catholic?

Pew determined that a solid 20% of the US claims Catholicism as its religion. This figure is relatively unchanged from a decade ago, but it is 4% down from 2007. In total, about 52 million US adults are Catholic. 

Age and ethnicity

Next, breaking down the US population by ethnic background, Pew found that more than half (57%) of US Catholics are white, down by 8 points since 2007. The second largest group of Catholics are those of Hispanic background, making up a solid third (33%) of the Catholic population, up by 4 points since 2007. The remaining 10% was found to be 4% Asian and 2% Black, while 3% responded other. 

Regardless of race or ethnicity, the entire Catholic population in the US was observed to be aging. Nearly 3-in-5 US Catholics (58%) were found to be aged 50 years or older. This was 10% higher than the age of the entire US population, in which 48% were in that age group.

Hispanic Catholics were found to be the youngest ethnic group associated with Catholicism in the US, with only 43% reporting being 50 years or older, as compared to white Catholics, of whom 68% were 50+. 

Location and education

When examining the distribution of Catholics across the US, the South was found to be home to the most Catholics (29%), pulling ahead of the historically Catholic Northeast, which holds about 26% of the Catholic population. The Western regions of the US were just behind, at 24%, while the Midwest came in last, at 21%. 

As far as education goes, only about a third (32%) have graduated from college, while an additional 28% have been to college, but did not receive a bachelors degree. The remaining 40% cited having a high school diploma or less. 

Mass attendance

The percentage of US Catholics who attend Mass every week has dipped below 3-in-10 (28%). Even though they don’t fill the pews, more than half (52%) reported daily prayer and just under half (46%) said that they consider their faith to be important in their lives. It was found, however, that twice as many Catholics attend Mass every week and pray every day (20%) as those who reported never attending Mass or praying (10%). 

See more results from Pew Research Center here.

CatholicismEducationUnited States
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