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Survey: Latino Catholics More Conservative, Aligned With Church Teachings

First Posted: Sep 27, 2015 12:30 PM EDT
Survey: Latino Catholics More Conservative, Aligned With Church Teachings

Photo : Jim Bourg/Getty Images

Latinos in the Catholic Church make up more than a third of the denomination's flock in the United States, and they tend to be more conservative and more closely aligned with its teachings, a new poll suggests.

Majorities of white Catholics believe that the Church should allow unmarried couples to cohabitate and divorced followers to receive communion, for instance. But among Hispanics, support for both of those position drops to below 50 percent, the Pew Research Center survey details.

Catholics are also split on the issue of gay marriage, the poll showed: Hispanics in the Church are less supportive of same-sex unions than white congregants. And while 45 percent of white Catholics believe that homosexual behavior is not a sin, that figure drops to just 37 percent among Latinos.

Meanwhile, Hispanics are becoming increasingly influential within the denomination's American flock, Los Angeles Archbishop José Gómez told the New York Times.

"The ethnic face of the church is changing, and the center of gravity and influence in the church is shifting from the East to the West, and from the North to the South," Gómez noted.

And the leader of the world's more than 1.2 billion Catholics, who this week made global headlines with his visit to the White House and address to a joint session of Congress, is well aware of the changes affecting the Church in the United States, the archbishop added.

"Pope Francis knows all of this," he said. "He knows the face of the Church is changing, he knows the country's Hispanic Catholic heritage, and he knows how important Hispanics are for the future of the Church."

The Pew survey, meanwhile, showed that Latino Catholics are more closely aligned with Francis on climate change -- a subject the pontiff pushed on Friday as he addressed the United Nations General Assembly in New York.

Working to address climate change is "an essential part of their Catholic identity" for 40 percent of Hispanics, a statement that holds true for only 22 percent of White Catholics, the poll revealed.

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