Spanish Language Catholic Press

Parish Diary

Fr. Peter Daly

May 23, 2008


            Forget Lou Dobbs.   

            If you really want to know what is going on with immigrants, read the Spanish language press.

This includes the Catholic Spanish press. These relatively new Catholic papers cover not only the Catholic Church, but the world of Latino immigrants overlooked by the mainstream press.

            Just the existence of the papers is itself a sign of our times. Today many dioceses now have two papers: English and Spanish. The presence of a Spanish language Catholic press shows what has happened to the Catholic Church in the USA in the last thirty years. Latinos are very important to us.  

            Half a century ago, when I was growing up in ethnic Chicago, we had many foreign language papers. I remember seeing papers in Polish, Ukrainian, Slovak, Italian and Greek.  But to my knowledge, there was only one Catholic newspaper in Chicago in the 1960s, The New World. Today the Archdiocese of Chicago has newspapers in English, Spanish and Polish. The Spanish language paper, Catolico, was founded in 1985.

            In the Archdiocese of Washington, we have two separate Catholic papers: The Catholic Standard, in English, founded in 1948, and El Pregonero (The Pilgrim) was founded in 1977.

            El Pregonero  competes for readers in a crowed field. More than half a dozen Spanish language papers can be seen in the paper boxes on street corners in Washington. To be noticed, you have to be good. El Pregonero is been one of the best.

            In a recent edition El Pregonero , showed a full page color photo of a demonstration of Mexican immigrants. The headline read (n Spanish) “The “Sin” of Being Undocumented.” It showed working men carrying crosses with the names of the nearly 100 immigrants who have died awaiting trial in jails run by U. S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE). They died because of a lack of medical care. Even though it was a CNS photo, I hadn’t seen the picture any English language Catholic publication.

            The accompanying story and editorial focused on the moral issue of how we treat immigrants. That is a story you don’t see anywhere else.

            Catholic Spanish language papers are much “newsier” than their English language diocesan cousins. In addition to the articles about the Pope’s visit and the reflections by the local bishop, they often have news of the wider world.

            That same edition of El Pregonero  had articles about the constitutional  referenda in Bolivia and the changes taking place in Cuba under Raul Castro.

            Locally there were also articles on the unsafe working conditions of construction workers. In our area, most laborers on big construction sites are Latino. There was also an article on a recent fire in a tenement building where many Latino migrants lived and a few died.  

            Even the classified ads are different in the Spanish Catholic press. For one thing, there are a lot more of them. There are many ads for jobs, mostly at entry level. There are also ads for services including immigration lawyers and English classes.

            One classified ad got my attention. It was for a fancy country club in suburban Washington, DC. In Spanish they were looking for grounds keepers for their famous golf course. That club is a favorite for conservative Congressmen and rich lobbyists.    

            I wondered if those same Congressmen who so often demagogue the immigration issue realize they are playing golf grass maintained by poor Catholic Latino immigrants. Many of the people who may answer that ad have committed the “sin” of being undocumented.

            Sometimes there are new worlds right under our noses. The Spanish language Catholic press opens our eyes to a parallel universe.