Archbishop Chaput: American Culture Digesting Latino Values

‘Eager Little Idolatries’ Exercising Strong Pull

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Philadelphia’s Archbishop Charles Chaput addressed a national convention of Catholic Hispanic leaders Friday, warning that an idea that Latinos, simply by their presence in the United States, «might restore the moral tenor of our public discourse is a delusion.»

In a talk at the national convention of the Catholic Association of Latino Leaders (CALL) held in Los Angeles, the archbishop spoke about «why faith matters,» explaining the importance of recognizing and respecting human dignity.

Toward the end of his discourse, the prelate reflected on Latino influence in the United States.

«Nations change when people change. And people change through the witness of other people — people like each of you here in this room. That brings me to the main reason for my comments today. When Archbishop Jose Gomez [of Los Angeles] and I founded CALL eight years ago, our goal was simple. Demography is destiny. The Latino population in the United States is growing very rapidly — more rapidly than any other ethnic group — and transforming the face of our country. The ‘next America’ will have a spirit infused with Hispanic experience. This should be a good thing. And it is a good thing, because Latin American culture, even today, has a legacy of respect for the family, for community and for the Catholic faith that too many North Americans have traded away, much too cheaply, for the satisfactions of social approval and material success,» Archbishop Chaput said.

He explained that he and Archbishop Gomez founded the association to help Latino leaders «renew the heart of an America that has become more and more confused, and more and more remote from its founding ideals.»

But, the archbishop reflected, «I think Archbishop Jose and I probably underestimated the ability of American culture to

digest and redirect any new influence that comes from outside our borders.»

He then noted trends such as Latinos in the US leaving the Church: «While nearly 70% of foreign born Hispanics are Catholic, that number falls to 40% by the

third generation.»

«The abortion rate among Latinas is actually higher than the national average,» he continued. «And nothing illustrates the power of relentless mass media pressure and special interest lobbying than this fact: In just six years, between 2006 and 2012, Hispanic support for same-sex ‘marriage’ rose from 31% to 52%.»

«In some ways, the Hispanic social and political profile is barely distinguishable from American national trends,» the prelate stated. «The idea that Latinos, simply by their presence, might restore the moral tenor of our public discourse is a delusion. The emulsifying effect of American consumer culture, with all its practical atheism, its ambitions, manufactured appetites, distractions, noise, toys and anesthetics – in other words, all its eager little idolatries – is simply too strong.»


Still, Archbishop Chaput pointed to the «confidence and joy» of Pope Francis, describing the Holy Father as «a healer who loves his patient as a brother and knows the medicine for his illness because he’s seen it work again and again.»

«An immense reservoir of goodness and hope still resides in the world,» the Philadelphia prelate affirmed. «We need to remember that and act on it. Some friends of mine traveled in Latin America this summer, and what moved them most deeply about their experience wasn’t the food or the scenery or the markets or the museums. What moved them most deeply — and what they’ll remember as long as they live — is the extraordinary kindness that ordinary strangers on the street showed to their son, who has Down syndrome; strangers with no motive other than showing spontaneous, unexpected warmth to a special child.

«Hispanic culture still has a soul formed by an encounter with Jesus Christ, and the humanity and compassion that flow from it. These things are worth fighting for and sharing with others.»

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Kathleen Naab

United States

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