Latino leaders seek dialogue within Church
SAN ANTONIO, Texas (Today’s Catholic) - The Catholic Association of Latino Leaders (CALL), an organization whose purpose is to work with the church for the common good in the service of Latino communities in this country, held its national inaugural event Jan. 16.
LATINO CATHOLICS - Archbishop José H. Gomez addresses clergy and business leaders from across the country at the inaugural gathering of CALL (Catholic Association of Latino Leaders), which took place at Club Giraud in San Antonio on Jan. 16. (Today’s Catholic)
San Antonio Archbishop José H. Gomez and Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, OFM Cap., of Denver, both ex-officio members of the organization, were in attendance as were clergy and Latino business leaders from across the country.
The inaugural gathering at Club Giraud included a prayer service led by the archbishops, unveiling of the organization’s logo, and introduction and blessing of the Executive Board.
In welcoming attendees to CALL’s first national meeting, Archbishop Gomez described San Antonio as the perfect place to begin this journey, as for more than 300 years this community has been enriched by its Latino roots.
“It is my prayer that one day we will all look back on this beginning as a moment of God’s grace for all people, as we embrace the responsibilities and opportunities that come with the leadership roles we share in our Latino community,” he said.
The archbishop said the event marked the continuation of the commitment of the Catholic Church to the Latino culture, and the leadership of Latinos shaping the past, present and future of the church in the United States. “Now it is our time to make a difference in the life of the church, to bring to mainstream America the blessings of the integration of faith and culture that are a great contribution of Latinos to the culture of our nation,” said the prelate.
‘Effective witnesses of our Catholic faith’
Archbishop Gomez emphasized that the organization’s goal is to not only engage in the public debate, but to have impact on the national dialogue matters and policies vital to Latinos.
“Today, more than ever, our voices must be heard,” he said, citing the fact that Latinos are the fastest growing segment of population in the United States and the Catholic Church, and that 71 percent of all the growth in the U.S. Catholic population since 1960 has come from the Latino community. “We must be prepared to be effective witnesses of our Catholic faith.”
The archbishop lamented that many Latino families are being separated by unjust immigration laws, their hope is being diminished by poverty, and they are still confronted with discrimination.
“We must be committed to lifting up our Latino brothers and sisters so that we all can share in the promise of this great country and live productive lives with dignity and hope. We must share with all men and women seeking the truth, that the Catholic Church has the answer to the deepest yearnings in their hearts,” Archbishop Gomez stressed. “God is calling us not just to be Latino leaders. We are called to be his apostles in every culture and every area of society.”
In his remarks, Archbishop Chaput said he became involved with CALL for two reasons. First, in his own state of Colorado, and throughout the United States, Latinos are a growing percentage of the population. Second, he said, “America has an amazing ability to welcome new immigrants and new leaders. It’s one of the qualities that make America unique in the world.” The archbishop explained that, for the overwhelming majority of Latinos, the Catholic faith lies right at the core of Latino identity. “CALL exists to help Latinos remember and live their identity as Catholics — and by living their faith with zeal, to become a leaven of service within the Latino community and in American society at large,” he said.
Mission: Getting to know God better
Archbishop Chaput commented that the mission of CALL is to help Latino leaders know God more deeply, experience the church more intimately, support each other in the Catholic faith, grow in leadership skills and work together with the bishops to serve and advance the Latino community.
“This is a national mission, and CALL is an acorn that needs to grow into an oak — and the sooner the better,” he said. “CALL’s first goal is to form a new generation of deeply Catholic Latino leaders in service to the Latino community. That’s vital. That’s where we begin. But CALL is much more ambitious than that, because leaders always are.” The archbishop concluded, “In shaping and encouraging Latino leaders and in serving the Latino community, the ultimate mission of CALL is to humanize the public square we all share and the public issues we all face in common as a nation.”
CALL organizers have stated that the group will be focused on core values of preserving and promoting Catholic values such as the sanctity and dignity of life, of marriage and family life, Catholic faith formation and education, vocations to the priesthood and consecrated life, promoting the dignity of every person and promoting the evangelization of culture and the ...
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