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United States of America
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New America Media, News Analysis, Peter Micek, Posted: Apr 13, 2008

Editor’s Note: Hispanics are the future of the Catholic Church inthe United States, and Spanish language media are waiting to see if thePope will address their concerns on his maiden visit to the UnitedStates. NAM Hispanic media monitor Peter Micek has a round-up ofSpanish language media on the eve of the papal visit.

As Pope Benedict XVI comes to the United States on his first papalvisit, Spanish language media are wondering if he will bring up issuesclose to their communities – human rights, immigration, detention anddeportation.

He’s made the right start. Archbishop José Gómez of San Antonio tells Spanish-language Rumboin Texas that he was delighted the Pope included a paragraph in Spanishin a message preceding the visit. "Recognizing that almost 40 percentof the Catholics in the United States are Hispanic is very importantfor the Church, as is realizing that the future of the Church in theUnited States is the Hispanic community," says Archbishop Gómez.

Gómez wants the Pope to mention the topic of immigration during histrip to Washington and New York. "I don't know what he is going to say,but I believe the Pope will give a call for hope," says the archbishop.The current atmosphere regarding immigration will pass, Gomez believes."The United States is a country that respects human rights and is acountry of immigrants that will logically find a solution that willserve as an example for countries worldwide."

But other groups are less optimistic and want something more concretefrom the Pope. Groups representing immigrants who have been deported ordetained are asking Pope Benedict XVI to intervene for immigrant rightsduring his U.S. visit, reports Spanish-language EFE news in Univision Online.

In a letter to the Pontiff, Mexicans Without Borders writes Hispanicimmigrants are scared and suffer "human and civil rights violations."Group spokesperson Ricardo Juarez says U.S. jails are full of Latinoworkers. He blames the failure of immigration policies on the hatredand racism fueling local and federal anti-immigrant laws.

He is going to bring a message of hope, says Fr. Lorenzo Ato, in avideo interview by New York Spanish-language newspaper El Diario/LaPrensa. The priest, originally from Peru, is on a preparation committeefor the Pope's visit to New York from Apr. 18 to 20, including a speechat the United Nations and mass in the Yankees baseball stadium. Atoasks believers and non-believers alike to pay attention to the Pope'swords and message, which aim to bring peace to the "fractured world"with its many conflicts.

Experts speaking to Texas paper Rumbo differ on the Pope's main purposein the United States: promoting peace in a world marred by war,reflecting on the role of Christianity in modern times, or perhapsaddressing the child abuse by clergy that have rocked the Church.

A fan of Pope John Paul II, Archbishop Gómez of San Antonio, says PopeBenedict XVI leaves a less open, more intellectual impression than theprevious leader. Elected at 58 years of age, John Paul II brought greatenergy to the position. By contrast, Gómez notes, the current Popeturns 81 on April 16. He says the visit will help people to feel a morepersonal connection with the new Pontiff, by seeing him and hearing himup close.

A former theology student who knew the Pope when he was still CardinalRatzinger gives a more personal view of the pontiff in El Pregonero,the Washington, D.C., Catholic archdiocese’s Spanish languagenewspaper. Though he was the second most important Vatican figure, DoraTobar writes, the Cardinal lived in a dormitory with other priests,including some of her friends. He was the only Cardinal there, becausemost high-ranking officials chose to live in private apartments ratherthan "employee" housing. When she got the chance to meet him in thedorm's cafeteria, she says, he struck a very elegant and tall, thoughtimid figure.

The Pope is not coming to solve political problems, asserts the Archbishop of Washington, D.C., Donald W. Wuerl in El Pregonero."[The Pope] will be here to open peoples' hearts, to give us a message,each one of us, because every time he speaks, he teaches," says Wuerl.

The Pontiff's visit will reaffirm Catholics' faith and challenge themto be living proof of their beliefs, writes Pregonero director RafaelRoncal. The Pope will preside over a public mass in the Nationals Parkbaseball stadium. Diversity will be on display, Archbishop Wuerl says.Those watching around the world will see "the marvelous faces of everyethnic group where rich and poor fall into one single faith." Theministers, deacons and seminary students on the altar will reflect thediversity, as will the local community members bringing them offerings.The sermons will be delivered in both English and Spanish.

Also in the District of Columbia, on April 10, diverse groups defendingthe rights of immigrants petitioned that the metropolitan area bedeclared a "sanctuary city," according to Univision Online. Many citieshave that status, which prohibits local authorities from cooperatingwith federal agents on immigration matters. Meanwhile, some 80localities have approved laws opposing the arrival of undocumentedimmigrants.

The Pope is scheduled to tour the northeast from April 15 to April 20.

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