Cause advances for former slave who became a priest

A runaway slave who became the first African-American priest has moved a step closer to being proclaimed a Blessed. A positio, a document summarising Fr Augustus Tolton’s life and virtue, has been approved by Vatican officials. Fr Tolton will be declared Venerable if a committee of theologians – meeting next February – also approve the text. A miracle will be required for beatification.

Fr Tolton fled slavery with his mother and two siblings in 1862 aged 8. He later became a seminarian in Rome, as no American seminary would accept him because of his race. When he returned to Illinois, thousands were there to greet him.

New York

Polls reveal Protestant decline in the US

The number of Americans identifying as Protestant has fallen sharply, from 50 per cent in 2000 to 36 per cent last year, according to an analysis commissioned by ABC News.

The analysis, based on a sample of 174,000 telephone interviews, found an eight-point drop in the proportion of white Evangelicals, while the number of people identifying as “nones”, or having no religion, nearly doubled to 21 per cent. The proportion of Catholics remained the same, at about 22 per cent.Bishop Thomas Tobin of Providence tweeted in response: “Some say the Catholic Church has to become more like Protestants (eg, married priests, women priests, abortion, gay marriage) to survive … We Catholics had better look before we leap.”

Mexico City

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