Hispanics Seen as Bolstering US Pro-life Efforts

Priests for Life Reaching Out to Spanish-Speaking Catholics

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By Anna Maria Basquez

DENVER, Colorado, APRIL 15, 2011 (Zenit.org).- Hispanic Catholics in the United States are at last stepping up their involvement in the pro-life movement, says the director of Hispanic Outreach for the New York-based organization Priests for Life.

"The Hispanic people are waking up," said Father Victor Salomon at a breakfast last Sunday with several active Denver pro-life members and organizers of the 40 Days for Life Campaign in the archdiocese.

The priest, based in Washington, D.C, spoke of his travels to do outreach in the Hispanic communities throughout the nation and worldwide, and of what he has seen most in his recent visits.

"[We] have roots about the value of life in almost all of Latin America," the priest noted. "This is something good to share here, especially because the United States is a very important country for the whole world. Each culture has seeds of the Gospel. This country is very blessed to have many cultures."

"It is clear that we are winning this battle," Father Salomon said. "I used to say, Jesus started with 12 apostles. And here, there are more than 12 people."

Father Salomon was in Denver throughout last weekend, which coincided with the 40 Days for Life Campaign that ends Sunday. The effort is comprised of three components: prayer and fasting, peaceful vigil and community outreach.

The priest also promoted Hispanic pro-life committees in each parish, offering instructions on the how-to's of starting pro-life committees in their church community. Father Salomon said he needs just one "good pro-life Catholic" in each parish to get started.

His itinerary included as well a visit to the site of what will be the Lighthouse Pregnancy Center. The center, which will be located across the street from one of largest Planned Parenthood centers in the United States, is being built privately by Denver Deacon Mark Salvato of St. Thomas More Catholic Church in Centennial, and his wife Laura.

Center for life

Astrid Bennett Gutierrez, executive director for Los Angeles Pregnancy Services, who accompanied Father Salomon the Denver, told ZENIT that the pregnancy center is "going to be a Catholic center, a medical clinic, a resource center. ... It's going to be a chapel. It's going to be really powerful."

Gutierrez is collaborating with Priests for Life to form a Spanish-speaking team to run Rachel's Vineyard retreats in Denver, which already exist in English. The retreats, she said, "help men and women that are suffering from abortion."

"It’s so needed," Gutierrez said. "So many women in our Church are just suffering in silence."

Father Salomon said Denver was a key city for the Hispanic Outreach of the worldwide Priests For Life organization because the second largest Planned Parenthood clinic was built in recent years in the city.

In Europe, the way the abortion issue is impacting populations is at a state of "emergency," he said.

In the United States, he added, it’s the Hispanic population that is keeping the country afloat. "Thank God Hispanics are having babies," he said. "We need to grow. It’s our culture."

In recent years, he said, the Hispanic and the African-American communities have been "sleeping giants." As Hispanics have come to step up to the issue, he said he hopes to also see the African-American communities follow suit.

He expressed concern about Planned Parenthood’s influence in many public schools. One person attending the breakfast mentioned a Denver Metro area public school that recently arranged a field trip for the students to a Planned Parenthood for the organization to show the children the facility.

"We have to wake up and react," he urged. Hispanics and African-Americans, he said "would be key in ending abortion. It’s not true that abortion is just one more issue. No. It’s the issue."

Gutierrez suggested, "If we inform all of our Hispanics, it will have an impact. They're so pro-life, pro-family, but then they’re being confused by the media. If they knew more, I think they would be key in ending abortion."

Father Salomon said the political organization of the laity is the key: "To organize our people to realize who is who in the political arena. I think America is waking up and saying 'Oh, they're killing us!'"

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On the Net:

Sacerdotes por la Vida (in Spanish): www.sacerdotesporlavida.org

For more information on pro-life resources in Spanish: www.hispanosprovida.org