NPR logo Latinos and Sex Abuse

Latinos and Sex Abuse

For those of you who listen to the program in the morning, I know this probably wasn't the wake-up call you were hoping for but the abuse of children by the Catholic Church is a major story...and maybe because I live on the East Coast and followed the sex abuse scandal in Boston (and also Dallas — covered that, too), I had never seen Latino victims represented until the L.A. settlement was announced and I saw their faces and started to hear their stories. It's tragic, but it's only logical — a third of American Catholics are Latino. How could this community NOT have been affected? Yet, I had not heard many Latino voices speaking about this and wondered whether the additional element of being minority, (and in some cases) new immigrants, language barriers, or community connection made this a different story...

I can't say we were "happy" (seems wrong to say under the circumstances), but we did benefit, I believe, from the perspectives of our two guests. Manny Vega is a police officer who says he came to grips with being abused when he applied to the academy. Asked whether he had ever been the victim of abuse, he decided it was time to come clean and has made it his business to speak out about what happened to him. He is a plaintiff in the L.A. case.

Father Allen Figeroa Deck is soon to be working on cultural diversity for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, he is interested in and has written about the relationship of Latinos with the Church. He added this thought after the program:

I wrote an article in Theological Studies (June 2004) tilted "A Latino Practical Theology: Mapping the Road Ahead" in which I said:

Timothy Matovina in an article published in America titled "A Fundamental Gap" (March 17, 2003) observes that the reaction given by Hispanics to the priestly abuse scandals is notably low-key. It is not that the people condone the abuse or the irresponsibility of some bishops in not properly dealing with these scandals. Rather, the difference in reaction between Euro Americans and Latinos/as is due to the fact that Latinos/as, having lived under the fist of Constantinianism, have been well aware of the potential and actual abusiveness of the clergy for centuries. Latino/a culture long ago shed any pretensions of innocence about that. Nor is the culture sympathetic to any kind of Puritanism. In this contrast, perhaps, one can intuit how the Latino/a presence represents an interesting new ingredient for the U.S. Catholic Church and for the famous "melting pot."

Feel free to put this on your webpage, etc.

Fr. Allan

It might interest you to know that the conversation between the two men lasted much longer than the actual interview...they spoke for some time.

On to a happier subject — BOOKS! If you're younger than I am (ok, everybody) you might not remember what it was like to never have a book with a character in it that looked like you...unless the subject was slavery...but I do. That's one reason we wanted to do today's segment. Maybe you don't think it matters but I do. I'm not saying every book character needs to match the ethnicity of the reader — far from it (and, besides, where would that leave Thomas the Tank Engine?). But I have loved sharing books with my kids with characters from around the world. I loved the suggestions Loriene brought us. She has an interesting background. Check out her bio...and check out her list.

Happy reading!