This essay begins with a four-part overview of American Catholic history focused on the building and dissolution of an immigrant Catholic subculture. The final period, “Catholics and the Dynamics of Pluralism (1968-present)” leads naturally into a discussion of the demography of Catholics in the United States. Particular attention is given to the trend to disaffiliation among millennials and how best to interpret it. Pastoral and theological reflections on the demography of disaffiliation emphasize the need for the church in the United States to take on an evangelical form more suited to a pluralism that is post-denominational and post-Americanist, and how this need might be approached in terms of “evangelization” as described in the 1975 Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Nuntiandi. Concluding thoughts sketch some important characteristics of an evangelical church, more concerned with its mission and witness in the world than with maintaining its internal life.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/william_portier/9/