Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Eduardo Peñalver: Dolan Plays Footsie with GOP and Loses Latinos?

Eduardo Peñalver at Commonweal on how Dolan's choice to bless the GOP runs the risk of losing Latinos--for the U.S. Catholic church and its future:

Although the social conservatism of Latinos is a little overstated, the diversity of the Latino communities would normally make it a little surprising to see them rejecting Romney in such overwhelming numbers. But the “Arizonafication” of the GOP, as Jeff Biggers dubbed it on the Huffington Post, is a dealbreaker even for otherwise conservative Latinos. It is hard to exaggerate the significance for Latinos of the hateful nativist rhetoric (and the hateful kinds of people) associated with the self-deportation movement that the Republican party has chosen to embrace. And when Mitt Romney jokes about no one asking to see his birth certificate, the irony is not lost on Latinos in Alabama and Arizona and elsewhere who have had to produce birth certificates to send their kids to school or who have had to worry about venturing to the grocery store without their “papers.” 
Latinos have been very faithful Catholics, but I suspect that — unless the GOP radically revises its approach to racial politics — the integration of the Catholic hierarchy with the national GOP will cause no small number of Latino Catholics to wonder about their place in the U.S. Catholic Church. [To be perfectly clear, I'm not suggesting Latinos will run for the exits immediately. But an increasingly tight association between the Catholic hierarchy and the GOP will, absent some shift in the GOP's current stance toward Latinos, have a tendency over time to alienate Latino Catholics from the church. If the native-born Catholic hierarchy had made common cause with nativists in the late 19th century, what would the impact have been on Irish and Italian Catholics' relationship to the American church? Of course, 19th century nativism was linked with anti-Catholicism, so the analogy does not really work, but you get the point.]

And for a contrasting (? or is it complementary?) view, read Michael Sean Winters's recent recommendation to the USCCB to catechize Latinos and teach them "to grasp the fullness of Catholic Social Teaching"--especially about abortion.  As Winters says in a statement "from the heart" to the Republican party today, he fervently believes that we need a "robust" conservative movement in the U.S.

And for centrist Catholics whose mission in life is slapping the Democratic party upside the head while pandering shamelessly to the Republican party--ostensibly because the GOP stands for "life" and the Democrats don't--the Latinos are such a convenient tool.  They're the group we centrists love to point to in order to demonstrate that one can be a Democrat, a faithful Catholic, and right-trending on issues like women's and gay rights and abortion.  They're the "robust" conservative movement we centrists would dearly like to see maintained in the heart of the Democratic party, making it a social teaching-tinged kinder and gentler version of Republicanism.  Of Republicanism, where our heart lies . . . .

In sharp contrast to Michael Sean Winters, I'm inclined to wonder, however, whether it's the Latinos or us centrist Catholics who really need the catechesis.  I'm inclined to wonder what Latino Catholics might teach all the rest of us, Michael Sean Winters and me included, about respect for life and Catholic social teaching, if we shut our self-important traps and let others teach us for a change.

Perhaps it's we and not they who need the catechesis, Michael.

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