Skip to comments.New L.A. Archbishop...Discusses Immigration & Hispanics In Church
Posted on 06/07/2010 1:14:39 PM PDT by marshmallow
LOS ANGELES (CNA) In an interview with the Catholic News Agency, the new archbishop of Los Angeles, the Most Rev. José Gomez, leader of the largest archdiocese in the United States and the fourth largest Catholic population in the world, addressed the role of Hispanics in the U. S. Catholic Church, and other issues related to immigration.
Q. What is your own background?
A. I grew up in Monterrey, Mexico. My father was a medical doctor in Monterrey. My mother was raised in San Antonio, Texas, where she completed high school. She also went to college in Mexico City, and although she completed her course, my mother married my father instead of graduating. Education was always very important in my family. I am both an American citizen and an immigrant, born and raised in Monterrey, Mexico. Some of my ancestors were in whats now Texas, since 1805. ( At that time it was still under Spanish rule.) Ive always had family and friends on both sides of the border.
Q. As the next archbishop of Los Angeles, you will be the most prominent Hispanic prelate in the Catholic Church in the United States. What is your view of the state of Catholicism among U. S. Hispanics?
A. The number of Hispanics self- identifying as Catholics has declined from nearly 100% in just two decades, while the number who describe themselves as Protestant has nearly doubled, and the number saying they have no religion has also doubled.
Im not a big believer in polls about religious beliefs and practice. But in this case the polls reflect pastoral experience on the ground.
Q. What questions do you see as key for Catholic ministry to U.S. Hispanics?
A. As Hispanics become more and more successful, more and more assimilated into the American mainstream, will they keep the faith? Will they stay Catholic or will they drift away to Protestant denominations, to some variety of vague spirituality, or to no religion at all?
Will they live by the Churchs teachings and promote and defend these teachings in the public square? Or will their Catholicism simply become a kind of cultural background, a personality trait, a part of their upbringing that shapes their perspective on the world but compels no allegiance or devotion to the Church? Hispanic ministry should mean only one thing bringing Hispanic people to the encounter with Jesus Christ in His Church.
All our pastoral plans and programs presume that we are trying to serve Christ and His Gospel. But we can no longer simply presume Christ. We must make sure we are proclaiming Him.
We should thank God every day many times for the good things we have been given. But we also need to give thanks to God through service, through works of mercy and love.
Q. What is the most serious problem Hispanic Catholics face in the U. S.?
A. The dominant culture in the United States, which is aggressively, even militantly secularized. This is a subject that unfortunately doesnt get much attention at all in discussions about the future of Hispanic ministry. But its time that we change that.
Practical atheism has become the de facto state religion in America. The price of participation in our economic, political, and social life is that we essentially have to agree to conduct ourselves as if God does not exist. Religion in the U. S. is something we do on Sundays or in our families, but is not allowed to have any influence on what we do the rest of the week. This is all very strange for a country that was founded by Christians in fact by Hispanic Catholics. Indeed, in San Antonio, the Gospel was being preached in Spanish and Holy Mass was being celebrated by Hispanics before George Washington was born.
Q. You have said these secularizing forces put even more pressure on Hispanics and other immigrant groups. Why?
A. Because immigrants already face severe demands to fit in, to downplay what is culturally and religiously distinct about them; to prove that they are real Americans, too. We might feel subtle pressures to blend in, to assimilate, to downplay our heritage and our distinctive identities as Catholics and Hispanics.
I believe that in Gods plan, the new Hispanic presence is to advance our countrys spiritual renewal. To restore the promise of Americas youth. In this renewed encounter with Hispanic faith and culture, I believe God wants America to rediscover values it has lost sight of the importance of religion, family, friendship, community, and the culture of life.
Q. What are other challenges facing Hispanics in the U. S.?
A. In our Hispanic ministries, we must understand that we are preaching the Good News to the poor. The second and third generations of Hispanics are much better educated, much more fluent in the dominant language, and are living at a higher economic standard of living than the first generation.
But still about one- quarter of all Hispanics, no matter what generation, are living below the poverty line. Combine that with high school dropout rates of about 22%, and a dramatic rise in the number of Hispanic children being raised in single- parent homes both strong indicators of future poverty and I worry that we may be ministering to a permanent Hispanic underclass.
We have moral and social problems too. Our people have some of the highest rates of teen pregnancy, abortion, and out- of- wedlock births, of any ethnic group in the country. These are things we dont talk about enough. But we cannot write these issues off as just conservative issues. To my mind, these are serious justice issues. If we want justice for our young people, if we want what God wants for them, then we need to find ways to teach our young people virtue, self- discipline, and personal responsibility.
Q. What do you tell Latino leaders?
A. Dont be intimidated by the truths of our faith. They are a gift from God. Let these truths touch your heart and change your life. You should own copies of the Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church and the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church. If you spend a few minutes each day reading these books and also reading from the Gospel, you will notice a change. You will look at the world and your own lives with new eyes. Be proud of your heritage! Deepen your sense of your Hispanic identity, the traditions and customs of our ancestors! I tell them. But you are Catholics. And catholic means universal. That means you cant define yourself nor can you let society define you solely by your ethnic identity. You are called to be leaders not only in the Hispanic community, but in every area of our culture and society.
As Catholic leaders and as Hispanics, we must reclaim this culture for God. Being a leader means, first of all, accepting Jesus Christ as the ruler of your life. The martyrs of Mexico all lived and died with these words on their lips: Viva Cristo Rey! ( May Christ the King live!) To be true leaders, the living Christ must be your king.
Respecting The Law
Q. What is the role of the Church in the political debate over immigration?
A. The Church is not a political party or interest group. It is not the Churchs primary task to fight political battles or to be engaged in debates over specific policies. This task belongs to the laity. The Churchs interest in immigration is not a recent development. It doesnt grow out of any political or partisan agenda. No. It is a part of our original religious identity as Catholics, as Christians. We must defend the immigrant if we are to be worthy of the name Catholic. For bishops and priests, our job as pastors is to help form our peoples consciences, especially those who work in the business community and in government. We need to instill in our people a greater sense of their civic duty to work for reforms in a system that denies human dignity to so many.
While we forcefully defend the rights of immigrants, we must also remind them of their duties under Catholic social teaching. Chief among these duties is the obligation to respect the laws of their new country. We need to help ensure that these newcomers become true Americans while preserving their own distinctive identity and culture, in which religion, family, friendship, community, and the culture of life are important values.
Im not a politician. Im a pastor of souls. And as a pastor I believe the situation thats developed today is bad for the souls of Americans. There is too much anger. Too much resentment. Too much fear. Too much hate. Its eating people up. In this volatile debate, the Church must be a voice of compassion, reason, and moral principle.
The Church has an important role to play in promoting forgiveness and reconciliation on this issue. We must work so that justice and mercy, not anger and resentment, are the motives behind our response to illegal immigration.
Q. How should Catholics respond to immigration?
A. Unfortunately, anti- immigrant sentiment and anti- Hispanic bias is a problem today, even among our fellow Catholics. I dont want to over-dramatize the situation. But we do need to be honest and recognize that racial prejudice is a driving factor behind a lot of our political conversation about immigration.
In the bitter debates of recent years, I have been alarmed by the indifference of so many of our people to Catholic teaching and to the concrete demands of Christian charity.
It is not only the racism, xenophobia, and scapegoating. These are signs of a more troubling reality. Many of our Catholic people no longer see the foreigners sojourning among them as brothers and sisters. To listen to the rhetoric in the U. S. and elsewhere, it is as if the immigrant is not a person, but only a thief or a terrorist or a simple work-animal.
We can never forget that Jesus Himself and His family were migrants. They were forced into Egypt by the bad policies of a bad government. This was to show us Christs solidarity with refugees, displaced persons, and immigrants in every time and in every place.
We all know these words of Jesus: For I was a stranger and you welcomed me . As you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me (Matt. 25: 35, 40). We need to restore the truth that the love of God and the love of neighbor have been forever joined in the teaching and in the person of Jesus Christ.
Many of these new laws on immigration are harsh and punitive. The law should not be used to scare people, to invade their homes and work sites, to break up families.
I would like to see a moratorium on new state and local legislation. And, as the U. S. bishops recently called for, I would like to see an end to federal work-site enforcement raids. The bottom line is that as long as workers can earn more in one hour in the U. S. than they can earn in a day or a week in Mexico and elsewhere in Latin America, they will continue to migrate to this country. Immigration has to do with peoples rights to share in the goods they need to secure their livelihoods.
We need to come together and find a solution to the complicated economic, national security, and legal issues raised by immigration.
Q. But how would you respond to those angered by illegal immigration? Shouldnt those in the country illegally face punishment?
A. As we stress the Churchs moral principles, we need to be more sensitive to peoples fears. The opponents of immigration are also people of faith.
They are afraid. And their fears are legitimate. The fact is that millions of immigrants are here in blatant violation of U.S. law. This makes law-abiding Americans angry. And it should. We have to make sure that our laws are fair and understandable. At the same time, we have to insist that our laws be respected and enforced. Those who violate our laws have to be punished. The question is how? What punishments are proper and just? I think, from a moral standpoint, were forced to conclude that deporting immigrants who break our laws is too severe a penalty.
Now, this doesnt mean we shouldnt enforce the laws. It means we need to find more suitable penalties. I would suggest that intensive, long-term community service would be a far more constructive solution than deportation. This would build communities rather than tear them apart. And it would serve to better integrate the immigrants into the social and moral fabric of America.
Historical revisionism ping!
....we should not be surprised to find that the Calvinists took a very important part in American Revolution. Calvin emphasized that the sovereignty of God, when applied to the affairs of government proved to be crucial, because God as the Supreme Ruler had all ultimate authority vested in Him, and all other authority flowed from God, as it pleased Him to bestow it.
The Scriptures, God's special revelation of Himself to mankind, were taken as the final authority for all of life, as containing eternal principles, which were for all ages, and all peoples. Calvin based his views on these very Scriptures. As we read earlier, in Paul's letter to the Romans, God's Word declares the state to be a divinely established institution.
History is eloquent in declaring that the American republican democracy was born of Christianity and that form of Christianity was Calvinism. The great revolutionary conflict which resulted in the founding of this nation was carried out mainly by Calvinists--many of whom had been trained in the rigidly Presbyterian college of Princeton....
....In fact, most of the early American culture was Reformed or tied strongly to it (just read the New England Primer). Von Kuehnelt-Leddihn, a Roman Catholic intellectual and National Review contributor, asserts: If we call the American statesmen of the late eighteenth century the Founding Fathers of the United States, then the Pilgrims and Puritans were the grandfathers and Calvin the great-grandfather
-- from the thread John Calvin: Religious liberty and Political liberty
John Calvin, Calvinism, and the founding of America
Calvin's 500th Birthday Celebrated: Critics and Supporters Agree He was America's Founding Father
AMERICA AND JOHN CALVIN
America's debt to John Calvin
Lessons to be learned from Reformation
Theocracy: the Origin of American Democracy
American Government and Christianity - America's Christian Roots
The Faith of the Founders, How Christian Were They
John Calvin: Religious liberty and Political liberty
The Man Who Founded America
The Puritans and the founding of America
Perhaps Puritans weren't all that bad
Who were the Puritans?
Bible Battles: King James vs. the Puritans
The Heirs of Puritanism: That's Us!
The real Puritan legacy
In Praise of a Puritan America
Are new 'Puritans' gaining?
Foundations of Faith [Harvard's "Memorial Church" and the university's Puritan roots]
Bounty of Freedom [Puritans, Yankees, the Constitution, and Libertarianism]
The Pilgrims and the founding of America
Thanking the Puritans on Thanksgiving: Pilgrims' politics and American virtue
New World, New Ideas: What the Pilgrims and Puritans believed, about God and man and giving thanks
Pilgrims in Providence
A time for thanks
Judge reminds: Faith permeated our culture since the Pilgrims
In its 400th year, Jamestown aspires to Plymouth's prominence [huzzah for the Pilgrims!]
Rock of Ages and the rebel pilgrims [understanding the times re Augustus Toplady's famous hymn]
The Protestant Reformation and the Founding of America
Reformation Faith & Representative Democracy
A Moral Vision [Oliver Cromwell, the American Revolution, and Pluralism]
He spouts the same crap as every other OBL critter.
The penalties are too harsh. It’s too hard to do it the legal way. Mexico jobs don’t pay well enough. Deportation is not an option. It’s all you gringos fault. Give us our just rewards for invading your land.
I’m sick of these blithering idiots telling us what we NEED to do.
Yes, he’s perfect for the hell hole called LA.
"I would like to see a moratorium on new state and local legislation. And, as the U. S. bishops recently called for, I would like to see an end to federal work-site enforcement raids. The bottom line is that as long as workers can earn more in one hour in the U. S. than they can earn in a day or a week in Mexico and elsewhere in Latin America, they will continue to migrate to this country. Immigration has to do with peoples rights to share in the goods they need to secure their livelihoods.
We are a soverign nation. Immigration is a privilege, not a right. Illegal aliens are taking jobs from Americans, including legal immigrants.
I'm guessing he's talking about the fact that the first permanent European settlement in what became the U.S., was St. Augustine, Florida, established by the Spaniards.
Gee whiz, why don’t they ask him something about faith?
Always immnigration??? Must be their hot-button topic.
Prayers for Archbishop Gomez.
God damit, Archbishop Gomez, you use your tongue prettier than a $20 whore.
Just a long-winded way of saying he supports amnesty. What the hell is wrong with the Pope putting this guy in this job at this time?
New L.A. Archbishop...Discusses Immigration & Hispanics In Church
Solving illegal immigration requires fixing economic causes, stresses Bishop Wester
Immigration Integration [Catholic Bishops Advocate for Humane Treatment of Illegal Immigrants]
Vatican official prods US on immigration reform
Archbishop Wenski of Florida urges Catholics to act up
Catholic bishop calls for new thinking on illegal immigration
How to Train Catholic Citizens to Elect Morally-Perverted Catholic Politicians
Some Church Leaders Are Wrong On Immigration
Toning Down the Immigration Debate among Catholics (Lots of Interesting Comments)
Bishop Slattery calls for secure borders, immigration reform [Tulsa, OK]
Immigration, Politics, and the Church (Ecumenic)
Cardinal: Catholics are key to achieving immigration reform [ or stopping it ]
US Catholic Latino leaders meet with Vatican officials, discuss Hispanic reality
Welcome the Stranger (Catholic theology & Church history against illegals)
Arizona immigration law shows need for reform, Archbishop Chaput writes
Bishops to the Left of Senate Dems on Immigration
Mahony blesses L.A.'s rally [pro-(illegal)immigration rally]
Jose Gomez (future LA Archbishop), champion of illegal immigrants [2005 post]
Catholic Money and Tax Dollars Finance Illegal Alien Rally
Cardinal Mahony speaks on illegal immigration
Catholic Church Facilitates Foreign Invasion
Archbishop Timothy Dolan: Immigration Reform. Here We Go Again
US Catholic Bishops Opposition To Arizona Immigration Law Leaves Many Unanswered Questions
USCCB OPPOSE ARIZONA LAW
US Catholic church attacks 'draconian' Arizona law
Pope Benedict urges bishops to work for recognition of immigrant rights
Arizona's Proposed Illegal Immigration Crackdown Akin To Nazi Tactics, Cardinal Roger Mahony Says
Hispanics increasing Catholic numbers in US, but assimilation has downside
Fewer receive sacraments
Does the American Catholic Church Have a Numbers Problem?
Denver Archbishop Supports Tuition Equity [Chaput favors extending in-state tuition to illegals]
US Catholic bishops condemn US immigration raids
Gathering calls for 'fair and humane' immigration policies [Catholic Bishops on immigration reform]
Journey to Justice: A Catholic Vision of Immigration
Catholic Church Chooses Wrong Side Again
Survey: Catholics Adapt to Culture at Cost of Committed Faith [Blacks 1/7 of the population, but only 1/25 of the Catholic Church]
GOP Senator: Immigration Bill's Fate Hangs in the Balance [SBC, Catholic Church support the bill]
Recognize Christ in every immigrant, bishop urges U.S. Catholics
Local Catholics celebrate diversity [Catholic "Immigration Mass" in Apple Valley, CA]
Putting faith in search for rights [Catholic "Immigration Mass" in Chicago, IL]
Praying for immigration reform [Catholic "Immigration Mass" in Los Angeles, CA]
Irish, Latino Catholics march for immigrant rights [Catholic "Immigration Mass" in San Francisco]
Catholics push for immigration reform [Catholic "Immigration Mass" in Raleigh, NC]
Catholic bishop calls deportation policies immoral
Withholding their 'amens' [Catholics object to a call for a revised immigration policy at Lent]
Denver Archdiocese Reacts To ICE Raid
Wow, that’s a lot of work. Thanks.