Catholic Leaders Differ on Views of Latino Cultural Shift

Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Houston told members of the Catholic Association of Latino Leaders (CALL) that his multicultural archdiocese is reflective of one of the most significant and fastest-growing realities facing the Catholic Church in the United States today.

According to National Catholic Register, DiNardo, whose archdiocese is 40 percent Hispanic, said that the Latino cultural shift in the Church is calling for an integration of the wealth of different cultures so that all can benefit and grow together.

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) website indicates that Hispanics account for 71 percent of the U.S. Catholic population growth since 1960. The bishops’ statistics say that nearly one-third of Catholics in the U.S. are Hispanic.

DiNardo, a strong advocate for comprehensive immigration reform, said that in parish surveys concerning local church needs, English-speaking Americans tend to express a need for catechesis and educational programs, while Hispanics ask for more retreats and prayer opportunities. DiNardo believes that these two approaches need to be integrated.

Manny Garcia-Tuñon, communications director for CALL, said that the Latino community has two main strengths to offer the United States: “faith and family.”

“Latino families tend to stay closer together; they typically don’t ‘move away’ or wander far from the nucleus unless it’s absolutely necessary,” he said. “Faith, particularly our Catholic faith, is part of our core identity.”

However, at the CALL annual conference, Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput seemed to have another view than that posed by Garcia-Tuñon. Chaput warned Hispanic leaders that the strength of Catholic culture among Latinos is weakening.

In what appeared to be an address that focused on realities, Chaput said that U.S. Latinos are leaving the Catholic Church “at a sobering rate.” Similarly, he indicated that the abortion rate among Latinas is higher than the national average, and that Hispanic support for same-sex marriage increased from 31 percent in 2006 to 52 percent in 2012.

A February Gallup poll indicated that the U.S. Catholic Hispanic population is growing more secularized, as less than half of U.S. Latinos under the age of 29 are Catholic.

Placing the responsibility for the decline of Latino faith-based morality on increased secularization in the United States, Chaput said he believes he and Archbishop José Gomez of Los Angeles, chairman of the USCCB Committee on Migration, “probably underestimated the ability of American culture to digest and redirect any new influence that comes from outside our borders.”

“In some ways, the Hispanic social and political profile is barely distinguishable from American national trends,” said Chaput. “The idea that Latinos, simply by their presence, might restore the moral tenor of our public discourse is a delusion.”


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