Social Justice for Hispanic Catholics

guadalupe-5In Latino Catholicism Transformation in America’s Largest Church Timothy Matovina writes, “Collectively the four ministerial approaches advance the aspirations of grassroots evangelization, integration, outreach to immigrants, and building stronger structural links between Hispanics and the U.S. Catholic Church” (Matovina 154). These four factors can be used to assess the process of transmission of faith among the Hispanics at the parish level. The grassroots nature of Hispanic ministry begins at the parish level. Therefore, evangelization, integration, outreach, and stronger links with the U.S. Catholic Church must take place at the parish level.

Evangelization can also be thought of a discipleship. When the Church refers to evangelization, the Church is really seeking to make new disciples  by bringing new people into the faith tradition who will actively contribute their time, talent, and treasure towards the initiatives set forth by the U.S. Catholic Church. Many Hispanics already have a strong spirituality with a strong faith foundation. However, oftentimes the spirituality of some Catholic Hispanics may not correlate well with the goals of the U.S. Catholic Church. The key criteria for assessing the successful transmission of faith among Hispanics is the building of stronger structural links between the Hispanics and the U.S. Catholic Church. Wherever the Hispanic community has active Hispanic parish leaders who are supporting the larger Church initiatives one can find a quantifiable sign of successful transmission of the faith .

hispanicpriest

The larger Church initiatives in the U.S. Catholic Church include caring for the poor and marginalized in society while integrating different races into active participation in these efforts. For example, it is important for Hispanic parish leaders to invite white parishioners into participating with ministries of outreach that serve all people. In order for this scenario to take place, there must be Hispanic leaders in U.S. Catholic Churches. According to Matovina, there is a disproportional ratio of Hispanic priests, deacons, and bishops in the U.S. Catholic Church compared to the number of Hispanic parishioners (Matovina 141-142). If Hispanic parishioners do not observe Hispanic people in leadership positions, then the Hispanic community will be less likely to cooperate with the goals set forth by the U.S. Catholic Church that serve the broader community. Having well educated Hispanic priests in the U.S. Catholic Churches is the first step toward true integration. Therefore, another sign of successful transmission of the faith to the Hispanic community is greater numbers of ordained Hispanic clergy .

Integration refers to unification where the Hispanic community is able to work cooperatively with people of all cultural backgrounds. True integration requires a person to be able to communicate effectively. Therefore, a sign of successful transmission of the faith to the Hispanic community in relationship to integration can be seen by the successful integration of the Hispanic community into the larger U.S. society. Successful integration can be observed by the Hispanic person’s ability to enjoy being employed and receiving a wage that provides for one’s basic needs and the needs of one’s dependents. Such needs include access to adequate health care and health insurance, as well as being able to afford nourishing food, clean clothing, and comfortable shelter.  The ability to speak the English language is essential when evaluating successful integration into the U.S. society and workforce which leads to the Church’s call to reach out to Hispanic immigrants.

New immigrants to the United States may not speak the English language. In order to successful integrate into the U.S. society and support the greater goals of the U.S. Catholic Church, new Hispanic immigrants must find a safe supportive community where there is access to educational resources. Hispanic parish communities must provide resources related to employment opportunities, educational opportunities alongside prayer and worship services. Faith without works is dead (James 2:14-26).

In conclusion, the four key criteria for assessing the successful transmission of the faith to the Hispanic community can be observed at the parish level. A parish where there are well-educated Hispanic leaders who are ministering to people of all cultural backgrounds inclusively is an indication of the successful transmission of the faith to the Hispanic community. These Catholic Hispanic leaders must be well-informed of the goals of the broader U.S. Catholic Church and adhere to these goals faithfully. Another sign of the successful transmission of faith to the Hispanic community is the presence of educational opportunities and support for securing employment for Hispanic immigrants. The cultural richness of the Hispanic community does not need to be forsaken in exchange for integration into U.S. society. A Catholic parish that empowers the Hispanic community to become active contributors to the U.S. society may also maintain the Hispanic spiritual cultural traditions .

Matovina, Timothy M. Latino Catholicism: Transformation In America’s Largest Church. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2012. 132-250. Print.


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