By Aaron Schrank, Religion News Service
As the country’s fastest-growing population, Latinos now make up nearly 40 percent of all U.S. Catholics, but represent less than 14 percent of students at Catholic schools, according to the National Catholic Educational Association.
In the past decade, 16 percent of U.S. Catholic schools have closed, dropping from 8,114 to 6,841. Enrollment nationwide has declined 23 percent—driven by competition from charter schools, fallout from the church’s sex abuse scandals and changing demographics.
Catholic leaders now tout Latino outreach as one answer to the system’s problems. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops called on its schools to increase Latino outreach in a 2005 statement. Since then, dioceses around the country — including Boston, Cincinnati and Phoenix — have launched initiatives.
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