Marriage and Family

Hispanics are key for defending marriage in the US, says Archbishop Chaput

Hispanics are key for defending marriage in the US, says Archbishop Chaput


In an exclusive interview with CNA, the Archbishop of Denver, Charles Chaput discussed the role of Hispanics in the defense of the family.

The archbishop explained that the family is the most important institution in the Hispanic community.  “The role of marriage and family among Hispanics is very close to the traditional American view.  All social relations are centered in the family, especially the extended family (including relatives, Godparents, etc.).  Family is the most important institution in Latino society and is widely respected and protected.  It is rather uncommon in Latin America to see couples living together without the Sacrament of Matrimony.” 
That being said, keeping the family values as the center of the community doesn’t necessarily continue when Hispanics come to the United States.  Archbishop Chaput commented that, “Unfortunately, many circumstances take Hispanics away from their understanding of matrimony and family when they emigrate. In the United States, different immigration-related situations lead couples to live together without the Sacrament of Matrimony, and many others are forced to live separated from their families.  The secular mass media and peer pressure also play a big role.”

The archbishop continued, “Hispanics tend to take the importance of family and marriage for granted and sometimes haven’t paid attention to family ministry.  In recent years, the priority of Hispanic ministry has been catechesis, youth ministry, or simply gaining diocesan recognition as Hispanic ministry itself, but not family ministry.  In fact, I don’t know of a single national institute or organization emphasizing family values among Hispanics in the United States.  We have national organizations for Spanish catechesis, Hispanic youth ministry, Hispanic priests, Hispanic leadership, etc., but not a single major Catholic group focused on Hispanic families and family values. Some non-Hispanic institutes, publishers, or organizations have tried to reach Hispanics, but generally with little success because of lack of understanding of Latino culture.”
When asked if the immigration debate prevents the Latino community from joining in pro-family activism, Archbishop Chaput answered, “unfortunately, Spanish-language media tend to emphasize that many politicians who promote family values are also against immigrants. It seems difficult to find officials who are strong pro-family or pro-life supporters and, at the same time, pro-immigration reform. Immigration reform has been seen as a liberal agenda, while pro-family is usually seen as a conservative agenda. I have no doubt that a high percentage of Hispanics would join pro-family forces if informed properly. “

“The Catholic Church in Latin America has mostly emphasized social issues other than pro-family or pro-life issues as their social ministry”, he continued.  Poverty and injustice have had priority.  Questions about abortion or gay marriage have not been a significant part of Latino political culture. In the presidential debates for last year’s election in Mexico, none of those questions were ever included. Now that Mexico City, Chile, Spain, etc., have approved abortion and gay marriage, politics in Mexico and other Latin American countries will change, and I suspect generations to come will start seeing family and life issues as important questions to ask a candidate.”
Chaput suggests that the dormant political energy of the Latino community could be awakened through the media.  “The effective use of media is very important. Hispanics are very likely to watch TV and listen to radio. Those two are considered the main channels to reach Hispanics. The internet is not as commonly used as it is for non-Hispanics, but it’s starting to gain importance. Educating young people and speaking from the pulpit about it, are also crucial. About 85 masses are celebrated in Spanish in the Archdiocese of Denver every weekend. Preaching about family issues must be a priority.”

It is also necessary that dioceses across the United States reach out to the Hispanic populations. “The Archdiocese of Denver is one of the few dioceses – maybe the only one -- in the United States that has a full time person working on family ministry exclusively for Hispanics. The position is new, but we’re confident of good outcomes in the near future.”

“Defending marriage and family is one of the central responsibilities of this person. Our Hispanic Ministry has a one hour radio show every week (Fe Católica Viva) on a secular radio station. Family issues are a common topic during the show. Our communications office has also been very outspoken on family issues in the local Spanish media.  Hispanic Ministry has been also working with the Archdiocesan Respect Life Office to establish programs in Spanish, and  has also been involved in establishing the first ENDOW group for Hispanic women.”
“The challenge remains to bring family issues to the social square and not only as a religious, private issue. Many more things should be done.”

Follow us:

Check out Catholic News Agency Polls on LockerDome on LockerDome