Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The Papal Visit: A Different Perspective

At Fr. Rich's request, here is an English translation of some comments I offered on a Spanish theology blog in response to an article they had posted about the Pope's trip to America. I recognize that my view is more cynical than most but, as Gustavo Gutierrez has observed, one's viewpoint depends on where one sits. My perspective is skewed by the recent experience of having to bail out one of the brothers in my prayer group so he would not lose his home to foreclosure and be one more Latino victim of the mortgage crisis that is devastating hard-working people in our community, and contrasting this with the millions that were spent on high-end accomodations and security for His Holiness...

"To tell the truth, I'm an American (but with a latino heart) and I feel a little lonely because I can't embrace all this acclamation for the Pope that we are experiencing in Washington. While he was here the raids and other anti-immigrant policies that are destroying our communities and robbing us of hope, continued. The Pope did not publicly denounce these raids.

While he was here, there was a decision in the U.S. Supreme Court in favor of the death penalty by lethal injection. The Pope did not publicly denounce that decision and he even dined at the White House with the 5 Catholic Supreme Court justices who approved this decision. And, as several other people have already commented [on the Spanish theology blog], nothing was said directly about the war in Iraq.

For Latinos, the Pope gave us four paragraphs in Spanish at the end of his homily in English because he knows that today we are 30% of the Church and tomorrow we will be 50%. He told us not to become pessimistic and to keep on offering our lively spirit and our gifts to the Church. In my parish, not one single ticket to the public Papal Mass went to a Hispanic family. They do not want to pay for a regular Spanish-speaking priest for our community but when it comes time to solicit funds, they know where to find us. But if we denounce these injustices, they say we are resentful and bad Catholics who lack commitment to our faith.

The Pope talked about the sexual abuse victims and it's true that this has been a huge problem. But there is a bigger problem, and that is the fundamental structure of the Church and its hierarchy and the lack of respect for the laity, and as long as this theme isn't addressed, it's difficult to see in the Pope's visit a reason for hope."

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