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Archbishop Gomez writes book on immigration, discusses America’s Catholic heritage

Catholic World News - July 08, 2013

In a new book on immigration, Archbishop José Gomez of Los Angeles discusses America’s Hispanic Catholic heritage.

“The story of the Pilgrims and the Founding Fathers, and the truths they held to be self-evident, is not the whole story about America,” he writes in Immigration and the Next America, an excerpt of which has appeared in the New York Post. “What we need to keep in mind in our immigration debate is that the Hispanic presence has deep roots in this soil. Long before America had a name, long before there was a Washington, DC, or a Wall Street, this land was Spanish and Catholic.”

“Two hundred years before any of the Founding Fathers were born, this land’s people were being baptized in the name of Christ,” he continues. “The people of this land were called Christians before they were called Americans. And they were first called this name in the Spanish tongue. Every American today, in some way, owes a spiritual debt to these great Hispanic Catholic missionaries of the 16th and 17th centuries.”

Archbishop Gomez adds:

So why don’t we know their stories? Because history is always told by the “winners.” In America’s case, the winners were the men who fought the American Revolution and established our national government. They handed down an American story, a national narrative that began with them and ignored earlier periods of American history.

They did this for a mix of reasons, but chiefly, perhaps, because they were unavoidably steeped in the anti-Catholic politics of post-Reformation Europe … Our current debates over immigration are still colored by prejudices that Philip Wayne Powell has called “Hispanophobia.” Powell traces the roots of that attitude to the anti-Catholic “Black Legend” (La Leyenda Negra) — deeply negative folklore depicting Spaniards and their culture as depraved — spread by England beginning in the 16th century.

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  • Posted by: Savonarola - Jul. 09, 2013 10:40 PM ET USA

    This is really a stretch. The America that we know came into existence on the Eastern seaboard, starting with the colonies in Virginia and in Massachusetts and culminating in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution --- predicated upon English traditions, law, language, and Christian culture, inspired, inter alia, by the writings of John Locke. In short, this country was founded by English Protestants. Why pretend otherwise in the face of history?

  • Posted by: Minnesota Mary - Jul. 08, 2013 11:05 PM ET USA

    So I guess now it's "payback" time. If Bishop Gomez thinks that all these Hispanics are going to be a boon to the Catholic Church in America, is he ever in for a rude awakening. They are leaving the Catholic Church for the Protestant Evangelical churches in droves after they get here.

  • Posted by: Ken - Jul. 08, 2013 7:35 PM ET USA

    “Hispanophobia?” Was it "hispanophobia” when Pres Reagan pardoned millions of illegal immigrants without a peep of protest from all of us prejudice causasians, Archbishop Gomez? We didn't protest because we trusted the federal government to uphold the entire deal and secure our borders. We were made fools. I support a borders first policy not due to any “hispanophobia,” but because I do not believe the federal government when it tells me AGAIN that it will secure the boarders.

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