Pope Francis’ Visit Offers Opportunity for Latinos to Take Action

By Janet Murguía, President and CEO, NCLR  

Janet Murguía at today’s press conference. Photo: iamerica.org

Our community is looking forward to the first visit from Pope Francis, and not just because one in three Catholic Americans are Hispanic, or because the pope is Latino, but because Pope Francis has been a light in the darkness for many Americans, particularly Latinos. In the past few months we have seen many attacks on our community and a concerted effort by some to dehumanize and scapegoat us.

Pope Francis presents a very different vision. He does not shy away from people’s differences but has chosen to focus instead on our shared humanity. That is a message we urge all—including our elected officials and those who are running for office—to embrace.

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Pope Francis’ message is also infused with hope—hope that we can not only do better, but be better. As a community of strivers, this is a message that resonates with America’s Latinos.

We believe in an America where there is respect for the contributions of its people, not fear of them. We believe in an America where families are supported, not torn apart. And we believe in an America where those who seek to build should prevail over those who want to divide.

But to turn this vision of hope into reality, we also need action.

In moments of darkness I get inspired by the many examples in our community where we have put hope into action. Our organizations work every day to help immigrant and citizen alike make their greatest contribution to our American family.

Helping aspiring Americans learn English and become citizens, safeguarding our democracy by helping eligible citizens register and vote, strengthening families and communities to achieve the American Dream—this is what I see every day, not the fear and demonization some voices out there are selling.

That is the message I am sending to the Latino community: if we want hope to prevail in this time of challenge, we must act and use every tool at our disposal. That includes—if you are eligible—becoming a citizen. If you are eligible, register to vote. And if you want change, use your voice at the ballot box. Hope needs partners to become reality: together we can make sure America lives up to its highest ideals.

And we can have hope and faith in this moment—porque con Dios por delante, todo es posible—because with God’s help, all things are possible.

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