Number of Catholics in the States

John Francis Maguire
CHAPTER XXVIII (9) start of chapter

What may be the number of Catholics in the United States is a question of much interest, respecting which there is considerable difference of opinion—some setting it down as very much less than it really is, others estimating it beyond what it possibly can be. There is little difficulty in proving the number of churches or ecclesiastics to be what is stated; but dealing with a vast proportion of the population, the computation is not so simple a matter. Avoiding anything like an extreme estimate, and taking into account not only the enormous emigration of the last half century, chiefly consisting of Catholics from Ireland and the continent of Europe; considering also that the Irish element is, if not the most, certainly one of the most, fruitful in the world; and not forgetting this fact, that in several parts of the Union, and notably in the New England States, the annual increase of the population is entirely owing to the foreign element(53)—and in most of these States the foreign element is fully five-sixths Irish and Catholic—I am inclined to agree with those who regard from nine to ten millions of Catholics as a fair and moderate estimate. They may be more, but it is not probable that there are less than 9,000,000; which is more than one-fourth of the entire population of the United States.

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