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June 11, 2020

Justice and Faith, Family and Community

Latino Leadership in a Time of Crisis

Young people protest the death of George Floyd in Oakland, California on May 29, 2020.

This Latino Leader Gathering for young Latino Catholics responded to twin crises faced in Latino communities right now: the injustice and racism revealed by the death of George Floyd and the outrage it has created, as well as the disproportionate impacts of the COVID-19 crisis on Latino and other communities of color, with families, neighborhoods, and parishes hit hard by the disease as well as the economic disarray that comes with it. As COVID-19 disrupts education and endangers jobs, Latinos are turning to their faith and families to help bear these heavy burdens. The country is also coming to a new understanding of what it means to be an essential worker, and how much immigrants contribute to our economy and culture, as migrants at the border and elsewhere face dangerous and frightening conditions. In response to these crises, Pope Francis continues to call us to resist the “throwaway culture” that treats the vulnerable as less important and to remember “the next-door saints” among us.

This conversation among young Latino leaders explored how faith and Catholic social teachings can help shape how we respond to these crises in our own lives, families, and the broader community. These leaders will explore questions such as:

  • How can young Latinos come together with others to act against racism in our communities and structures; to protest injustice; to unite our country around shared principles of justice, equality, and solidarity; and to resist those who use grief and anger to destroy parts of our communities?
  • How are young Latino leaders responding to killings and harassment by law enforcement and the fear, anger, and despair that come with them? How can different communities work together for effective change, solidarity, and justice?
  • How is COVID-19 particularly affecting Latinos and Latino communities, and how are governments and communities responding?
  • How is our new understanding of who is an essential worker affecting the wider view of Latinos in our culture and economy? How can our nation act on this reality, both now and after the crisis abates?
  • What is it like to be in a mixed-immigration-status family right now, with added levels of insecurity and fear?
  • How should Catholic teaching on human life and dignity, racial and economic justice, work, and solidarity shape national policy? What policies can most help Latino communities right now?

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  • Bishop Mario Dorsonville is auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Washington and chairs the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Committee on Migration. Among his many responsibilities, Bishop Dorsonville leads the archdiocese’s Hispanic ministry.
  • Juan Belman Guerrero is the program manager for the Kalmanovitz Initiative for Labor and the Working Poor at Georgetown University and attended the University of Texas at Austin for his undergraduate degree.
  • Michael Okińczyc-Cruz is the executive director and co-founder of the Coalition for Spiritual and Public Leadership in Chicago, Illinois.
  • Olga Segura is a freelance writer in New York City and author of a forthcoming book on race, the Black Lives Matter movement, and the Catholic Church.

Kim Daniels, associate director of the Initiative, moderated the online conversation.




This Latino Leader Gathering was for young Latino Catholics to discuss key issues and personal stories about faith and public life from distinguished Latinos and other leaders and was co-sponsored by the Archdiocese of Washington.