PHOENIX (AP) — A booming Hispanic population is seen by many U.S. Roman Catholics as a key to the church’s future. In large parts of the United States, recent years have been difficult for the church. Hundreds of schools and parishes have closed, and bankruptcy stemming from sexual abuse has hit hard in the Northeast. There’s a different mood in the Southwest. Hispanics now account for 40% of all U.S. Catholics and a solid majority of school-age Catholics. But there are also some big challenges. Catholic researchers say Hispanics are strikingly underrepresented in Catholic schools and in the priesthood, and there’s hard work ahead to try to close those gaps.