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Catholic church revived by Hispanic population

In terms of membership, the Catholic Church has long been among the leading religions of the world. According to statistics from Kenneth Jones' Index of Leading Catholic Indicators, there were 58,000 Catholic priests in 1965 in the United States. The number of priests in the U.S dropped to 45,000 in 2002. Predictions for 2020 indicate there will be about 31,000 priests -- and only 15,000 will be under the age of 70. Right now there are more priests aged 80 to 84 than there are aged 30 to 34. Across the board there are fewer Brothers, Sisters and even Religious Orders according to the Index.

Some suggest that decline is the byproduct of a church hierarchy that is out of step with its younger members. For example, there are some young Catholics who feel disconnected from a church that does not support homosexuals, excludes women from the priesthood, and preaches against contraception, some core tenets of Catholic teachings.

One group of people who may still be supportive of the Church and embrace the religion fully is the Latino community. According to information from the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, one-third of all Catholics in the United States today are Latinos. Although many Latinos are filling the pews of churches across the country, there still may be a religious divide.

Some established churches that have long had a specific demographic of parishioners do not know how to adapt to the influx of Latinos. Some offer masses entirely in Spanish. But some feel this creates a wall between parishioners, separating the faithful. Language becomes a barrier that some churches are trying to knock down.

Some successful churches have integrated both Spanish and English into masses and sacraments. Others are opening up fundraisers and traditional "fish fries" to the cultural foods prized by Spanish-speaking parishioners.