Even though it seems quite under-publicized, this is Hispanic Heritage Month (HHM). Unlike most special months, HHM starts on September 15 and goes to October 15. In 1968 Congress authorized President Johnson to proclaim National Hispanic Heritage Week, and the observance was expanded in 1988 to a month long celebration.
June and I are members of Vital Conversations, a monthly book discussion group that we enjoy. The group meets from 1:00 to 2:30 on the second Wednesday afternoon of each month, and next week Geraldo Rivera's His Panic: Why Americans Fear Hispanics in the U.S. (2008) is one of the books we will be discussing.
I have never seen Geraldo on TV, and somehow I had negative ideas from what I had heard about him. I checked out his book and began reading it with some reluctance, but I have found it to be highly interesting and informative. He describes well the considerable anti-Hispanic racism extant in this country.
In his book, Geraldo deals, of course, with the problem of Hispanic immigrants--both legal and illegal. It was refreshing, after hearing so much negative rhetoric about "illegals," to read of the many contributions Hispanic immigrants have made and are making to the U.S.
Geraldo's thirteenth chapter is "Immigrants and the Church," which is largely about what is called the New Sanctuary Movement which began in March 2006 when Roman Catholic Cardinal Roger Mahony called on American Catholics to defy attempts to criminalize illegal immigrants and those who help them.
Earlier, in December 2005, Cardinal Mahony wrote a letter to President Bush condemning an attempt to require churches and public services to verify the status of parishioners and only serve those legally in the U.S. In that letter, Cardinal Mahony wrote, "Our golden rule has always been to serve people in need--not to verify beforehand their immigration status."
It is becoming clearer to me that those of us who seek to follow Christ should not only support universal health care but immigration reform as well.
In another vein, during this final week of HHM, I will be cheering for Albert Pujols, Yadier Molina, and the other Hispanics who play for the St. Louis Cardinals, the baseball team I have followed for the past sixty years.