Immigration, “Healing” Touchstones of Pope Benedict’s Appeals to U.S. Latinos

April 16, 2008

Pope Benedict XVI, George Bush

In a visit designed to gently quell concerns about cover-ups of child molestation, sexual abuse and other crimes in the Catholic church, Pope Benedict was greeted with gun-wielding troops, big Catholic crowds and much presidential pomp. And he arrived with a clear mission to appeal to the group that will determine the future of the Catholic Church in the U.S.: Latinos.

With the Pew Hispanic Center telling us that Latinos now comprise 1 of every 3 U.S. Catholics, the Pope’s message must of necessity include an unprecedented Latino PR component. And as Catholic fortunes continue their decline here, the importance of the Latino church grows. In the words of Susan Jacoby in the Washington Post,

Without Hispanic immigration, the situation of the American Catholic Church would be even more dire.

But, Jacoby says, even among the Latino faithful, the fate of the church looks Apocalyptic in a not-so-beneficial way,

But the majority of Hispanic children do not attend the declining number of Catholic schools, and, if the history of immigration is any guide, the attachment of Hispanics to the church of their parents and grandparents — a critical part of immigrant survival — will diminish in direct proportion to their assimilation into American life.

Still, the Pope’s visit provides yet another example of how Latinos will play an definitive role in shaping the policies and public statements of the powerful and corrupt. While Benedict’s visit is supposed “open the path of healing and reconciliation”” before the most devastating scandal in U.S. Catholic history, it’s not likely to succeed. The Pope has repeatedly declined to take one of the most fundamental steps to healing: meet the victims-including the many Latinos- of abuse cara a cara.

Such non-action makes clear that there are ulterior motives behind Benedict’s “healing” tour.

For example, how the flag of immigrant rights provides powerful interests a cover for their crminial acts was vividly displayed today as Benedict began his trip by previewing his “concern” for the undocumented. According to the L.A. Times,

Benedict, who will visit Washington and New York in the trip that ends Sunday, said he will raise immigration issues during his stay. He said he was especially concerned by what he called the grave problem of families that are separated by immigration policies and by border violence.

So, as you watch English and Spanish language propaganda…..I mean coverage of the Pope’s visit, don’t let any God be the sole judge of Benedict and his motives.

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