Sunday, March 16, 2008

Hispanic Catholics eagerly await the Pope's Visit

Many Hispanics pin hopes on pope’s visit, by Pamela Constable. March 15, 2008:

WASHINGTON — When Pope Benedict XVI comes to Washington next month, he will set foot in a Roman Catholic community that is now one-third Hispanic. It is a vibrant and fast-growing segment of the regional church whose members overflow Spanish-language Masses and high-energy revival shows but who often say they feel socially isolated and harassed under local and national laws.

Their hopes for the visit of El Papa widely echo those expressed by Lilian Castillo, a housecleaner from El Salvador and mother of three who is a regular worshiper at St. Camillus Church in Silver Spring, Md.

“Our community is facing persecution and poverty. People are being deported, even members of our own church,” said Castillo, 46. “I hope the pope can be a bridge to bring together Americans of all ages and races and levels. He is coming to bless all of us, and I hope everyone will be listening.”

In addition to spiritual reinforcement, Hispanic church members and leaders in the metropolitan region are looking for moral and political support from the pontiff. They hope his visit to the nation’s capital, as lawmakers continue struggling with immigration reform and the presidential race unfolds, will include a message of tolerance and inclusion toward immigrants. . . .