Things That Matter

A Mexican-American Now Holds One Of The Highest Positions In The US Catholic Church, Could This Be An Anti-Trump Statement?

The Catholic Church has had a varied position in the political spectrum in contemporary times in the Americas. While in South American countries such as Chile and Argentina it has aligned with conservative governments and those in power, in the United States this centuries-old institution has traditionally been seen as a progressive force that generally innovates when it comes to the inclusion of ethnic minorities (they are, however, still pretty conservative when it comes to gender and sexual diversity, and reproductive rights).

It should not come as a surprise that the conclave of US Catholic bishops just made a pretty big decision by choosing an immigrant archbishop as perhaps the highest ranking priest in the country. He is a defender of migrant rights and can potentially be highly influential with the Latino vote come the 2020 presidential election. 

José Gomez, an immigrant of Mexican heritage was just named the next president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. 

In vernacular terms, this is a BFD. Archbishop José Gomez leads the Church in Los Angeles, a key jurisdiction when it comes to important affairs such as immigration, bilateral relations with Mexico and progressive agendas that the Church traditionally opposes, such as same-sex marriage and the legalization of marijuana. Los Angeles is also the largest archdioceses in the country, in part due to the large population of Latinos and Filipinos, who are traditionally born and raised Catholic.

He was elected almost unanimously with 176 votes from his fellow bishops, with just 18 votes going to his opponent, Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron of Detroit, who was subsequently voted vice president.

America The Jesuit Review sums up his background: “Archbishop Gomez, who was born in Monterrey, Mexico, was ordained to the priesthood in the Opus Dei prelature in 1978. In 1980, he received a doctorate in sacred theology from the University of Navarra, in Spain. He served as a priest in Texas from 1987 to 2000”. Even though he comes from one of the most conservative congregations in the Church, the Opus Dei, he has made a career by defending the rights of the marginalized.

He is a defender of migrants and a fierce supporter of DACA, so his election could be read as a political statement.

Credit: America The Jesuit Review

Archbishop José Gomez has long defended migrant rights, which has made him popular among the Latino population of Los Angeles, one of the most multicultural metropolis in the world. Even though he had been serving as vice-president and his election followed tradition, some argue that it is also a sort of unofficial positioning of the Catholic Church against the iron-fisted immigration policies of the Trump administration, which have brought immense suffering to Latinos in the greater Los Angeles area, including forced family separations and deportations by the now despised government agency ICE. 

He doesn’t hold his words back when it comes to border affairs and the human crisis at hand.

Credit: The Intercept

As The New York Times reported, the archbishop said after his election: “We have this situation at the border, which is a tragedy. We are constantly talking about immigration, especially encouraging our elected officials to do something, and to come up with immigration reform that is reasonable and possible”. Traditionally the separation of Church and State has been pretty clear in the United States, but as some Christian Evangelical denominations have become quite tight with the Trump White House and validate its tough policies, perhaps the Catholic Church will be a counterbalance when it comes to political lobbying in defence of migrant rights. 

He was born in Mexico and now defends DACA recipients.

Archbishop Gomez, contrary to many men of the cloth, is very direct when it comes to his political position. In the eve of his election he read a message for DACA recipients from the pulpit, just as the Trump administration is fighting to reverse the program and as the president has called some DACA recipients “criminals” on Twitter.

The message read: “In this great country, we should not have our young people living under the threat of deportation, their lives dependent on the outcome of a court case. So, we pray tonight that our president and Congress will come together, set aside their differences, and provide our young brothers and sisters with a path to legalization and citizenship”.

As we said, he doesn’t hold back. This is an elegant way of opposing the POTUS without being confrontational. He also believes that there is a Latino wave in the Church, given that the Pope is Argentinian: “The fact that the pope is a Latino makes us feel a responsibility for the church. He has been a great blessing for me and for the church. For Latinos, it’s easy to understand some of the wonderful things Pope Francis is doing to reach out to people”. 

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Meet ‘Padre Cheke,’ The Mexican Priest Combining Religion And Tech On TikTok

Culture

Meet ‘Padre Cheke,’ The Mexican Priest Combining Religion And Tech On TikTok

A Mexican priest has turned to social media to meet young people where they are – on TikTok. He’s using the popular social media app to help “bring young people closer to God” and him becoming an actual influencer in the process is just a coincidence. But a very successful one at that.

Known as Padre Cheke, the priest from Puebla already has nearly one million followers on TikTok and has gained millions of likes on his videos. So just what does a Catholic priest upload to TikTok?

Padre Cheke is a massive hit on TikTok for uploading religious content.

Ezequiel Padilla is “Padre Cheke,” a Catholic priest and rector of the Chapel of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and San Cayetano in Puebla. He is also a new star of TikTok. He currently has almost 700,000 followers and 3.2 million likes on his platform.

Padre Cheke has become famous for using TikTok trends and using them to give religious messages to his followers and anyone who comes across his videos.

With the onset of the pandemic and confinement, Father Cheke decided to implement new strategies to keep people from turning away from religion. After returning to Mexico following a formation meeting in Italy, the priest became interested in this platform.  “In those days was that I downloaded the application, because I saw some stories on social networks and from there I started to make TikToks. I did not know how but little by little I was learning,” said the TikToker.

At 48 years old, the priest pointed out that when he noticed that one of his videos went viral and went from 60 followers to 10,000 followers in a very short time, he understood the power of social media.

Ezequiel feels that religion is not at odds with daily life and he uses TikTok to share that message.

Father Cheke does it all for TikTok. He dances, sings and interprets his videos with a lot of ease. He also lip synchs to dubbed videos, follows trendy choreography and viral songs, sometimes alone and sometimes with members of his congregation.

I mean who wouldn’t love a padre doing TikTok?!

Due to the great impact of social media, he has become a viral character and even has his own hashtag,#ChekeTokers, which has already been and will probably continue to trend throughout Mexico and, if he has his way, around the world.

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Mexicans Travel To U.S. For ‘Vaccine Tourism’ Say It’s A Matter Of Survival

Things That Matter

Mexicans Travel To U.S. For ‘Vaccine Tourism’ Say It’s A Matter Of Survival

The United States is one of the world’s most successful countries when it comes to rolling out the COVID-19 vaccine program. So far, more than 200 million vaccines have been administered across the U.S. and as of this week anyone over the age of 16 is now eligible.

Meanwhile, in many countries around the world – including Mexico – the vaccine roll out is still highly restricted. For many, who can afford to travel, they see the best option at a shot in the arm to take a trip to the U.S. where many locations are reporting a surplus in vaccines.

Wealthy Latin Americans travel to U.S. to get COVID vaccines.

People of means from Latin America are chartering planes, booking commercial flights, buying bus tickets and renting cars to get the vaccine in the United States due to lack of supply back in their home countries. Some of those making the trip include politicians, TV personalities, business executives and a soccer team.

There is an old Mexican joke: God tells a Mexican he has only a week left to live but can ask for one final wish, no matter how outrageous. So the Mexican asks for a ticket to Houston—for a second opinion.

Virginia Gónzalez and her husband flew from Mexico to Texas and then boarded a bus to a vaccination site. They made the trip again for a second dose. The couple from Monterrey, Mexico, acted on the advice of the doctor treating the husband for prostate cancer. In all, they logged 1,400 miles for two round trips.

“It’s a matter of survival,” Gónzalez told NBC News, of getting a COVID-19 vaccine in the United States. “In Mexico, officials didn’t buy enough vaccines. It’s like they don’t care about their citizens.”

Mexico has a vaccine rollout plan but it’s been too slow in many people’s opinions.

With a population of nearly 130 million people, Mexico has secured more vaccines than many Latin American nations — about 18 million doses as of Monday from the U.S., China, Russia and India. Most of those have been given to health care workers, people over 60 and some teachers, who so far are the only ones eligible. Most other Latin American countries, except for Chile, are in the same situation or worse.

So vaccine seekers who can afford to travel are coming to the United States to avoid the long wait, including people from as far as Paraguay. Those who make the trip must obtain a tourist visa and have enough money to pay for required coronavirus tests, plane tickets, hotel rooms, rental cars and other expenses.

There is little that is fair about the global race for the COVID-19 vaccine, despite international attempts to avoid the current disparities. In Israel, a country of 9 million people, half of the population has received at least one dose, while plenty of countries have yet to receive any. While the U.S. could vaccinate 70 percent of its population by September 2021 at the current rollout rate, it could take Mexico until approximately the year 2024 to achieve the same results.

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