Racial Differences Among Catholics in Washington, D.C., NYC, and Philadelphia

During his U.S. tour later this month, Pope Francis will visit Washington, D.C., New York City, and Philadelphia. Each metro area has a strong Catholic presence—New York City is 36 percent Catholic, Philadelphia 33 percent, and D.C. 19 percent—but the three cities differ substantially in the racial and ethnic make-up of their respective Catholic populations.

Washington, D.C. has the most diverse Catholic community, with no racial or ethnic group making up a majority of the Catholic population. Just under half (49 percent) of D.C. Catholics are white, one-third (33 percent) are Hispanic, 10 percent are black, and three percent are Asian-Pacific Islander (API). Washington, D.C. has the largest percentage of black Catholics of the three cities the pope will be visiting.

The racial and ethnic background of New York City Catholics closely mirrors American Catholics overall. Close to six in ten (58 percent) Catholics in New York City are white, one-third (33 percent) are Hispanic, five percent are black, and two percent are API.

In contrast, Philadelphia Catholics are overwhelmingly (82 percent) white, with just 12 percent identifying as Hispanic and three percent as black.

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Metro areas are based on U.S. Census Bureau definitions of Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs). The metro areas may include both urban and non-urban populations. For instance, the Boston metro area encompasses the Boston-Cambridge-Newton, MA-NH Metropolitan Statistical Area.