By historians’ account, Irish immigrants and their offspring essentially built the Catholic Church in America. Between 1840 and 1880, Irish immigration accounted for most of the sixfold increase in the country’s Catholic population, to 6 million. The influx fueled a boom in church and school construction, much of it with Irish labor, that culminated with the completion of St. Patrick’s in 1878.
But Latinos in New York today are almost the statistical twins of Irish New Yorkers of the late 19th century: They account for 30 percent of the city’s population and, by the archdiocese’s estimate, 40 to 50 percent of its 2.5 million Catholics — an estimate that community advocates say probably misses large numbers of undocumented immigrants.
The article points out that the new archbishop can habla Mass (más!) en español, and the Vatican has appointed Hispanic bishops, so all to say, in the style of our man Obama, we're probably going to have our first ArchPapi appointed sometime soon, or at least in our lifetimes (NPR was looking in 2005). I'm not very religious, or Catholic, but that sure seems to smell like progress.