As the world’s eyes looked towards Vatican City, their attention riveted on a tall chimney pipe on top of the Sistine Chapel. If the smoke was white, a new Papa (Pope) had been selected. If it was black, the selection of who would be the next leader of the world’s billion Catholics, would await another day. Latinos, Hispanics, Mexicans, in a word, nuestra gente, all prayed for a Pope that would understand our people.
We all know that Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, a German, was elected as Pope of the Roman Catholic Church. The last time a German was selected as Pope was in 1055. He ruled for two years. As Mexican Americans, Latinos, Hispanos, we are disappointed. As members of the Catholic Church, we have been faithful followers of the word of God. We had prayed and hoped that God would hear our petitions…. We prayed for our Shepherd to be sensitive to our deep desires to have a Pope that would be attuned to our deep desires and spiritual needs.
As a people, whose history goes back centuries before the birth of Jesus Christ, we prayed for a sign that we had no been forgotten and relegated to the bins of the untouchables. Our ancestors trace as far back as 3,500 years before the birth of Christ. Among those who are recorded as our ancestors were the Olmecas, (2500 B.C. to 250A.D). The Teotihuacan culture existed from 2500 B.C.-250 A.D., along with the Maya, Zapoteca and Monte Alban cultures. The Toltecs, Chichi-mecas, Incas, Tarasco, the Azteca cultures were established during 250 B.C-900 A.D. Unbeknown to the indigenous peoples of the Americas, the Birth of Christ had occurred in year 1 A.D.
In 1519 A.D., Hernan Cortez conquered the Aztec Ruler Moctezuma. The Indigenous peoples of the Americas soon begin to learn of the Holy Roman Catholic Church, by force and by seeing their own Gods being destroyed. The landing of Cortez coincided with Charles 1 of Spain becoming the Emperor of the Holy Roman and Germanic Empires as Charles V (1519).
By the time Mexico and the other countries south of the current border had been subjugated by the Spaniards and Portuguese, the Catholic religion had superseded the local indigenous religions. All our ancient beliefs, rituals and mantras were destroyed. We were left Godless. Then, our people were subjugated to the White men Gods.
We have the deep desire to have a Pope that would be from a country that has a primarily Latino population base. There is a deeply felt need to be more than a visitor seated in a pew. We have a deeply felt need to be a stake holder in the Catholic religion. We need to see that Christ and his followers really do come in more than one color. We need to know that we matter not only in this life but in the life that follows after death.
When the Spaniards came and conquered our ancestors, they left us without our Gods. They left us with a European religion which seems to have no room or role for our people to play in the unfolding life drama. We are sheep that are being forced to follow Shepherds whose voices are unrecognizable.