OPINION

Opinion: There’s a war on traditional marriage and Hispanics are losing

OSWEGO, NY - JUNE 20: Members of the Dolan family walk home with bags of food after a food distribution by the Food Bank of the Southern Tier Mobile Food Pantry on June 20, 2012 in Oswego, New York. The mobile food pantry program was introduced in 2007 in the Southern Tier of New York and covers nearly 4,000 predominately rural miles. The converted beverage truck delivers fresh produce, dairy products and other grocery items to individuals and families in need. The pantry typically distributes for a period of two hours and provides 100 to 160 families with food. According to the 2010 Census, 15.72% the population serviced by the mobile pantry live at or below the federal poverty level. According to statistics presented at a recent U.S. Senate committee hearing, almost one in seven Americans are living below the poverty line with a significant number of them being children.  (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

OSWEGO, NY - JUNE 20: Members of the Dolan family walk home with bags of food after a food distribution by the Food Bank of the Southern Tier Mobile Food Pantry on June 20, 2012 in Oswego, New York. The mobile food pantry program was introduced in 2007 in the Southern Tier of New York and covers nearly 4,000 predominately rural miles. The converted beverage truck delivers fresh produce, dairy products and other grocery items to individuals and families in need. The pantry typically distributes for a period of two hours and provides 100 to 160 families with food. According to the 2010 Census, 15.72% the population serviced by the mobile pantry live at or below the federal poverty level. According to statistics presented at a recent U.S. Senate committee hearing, almost one in seven Americans are living below the poverty line with a significant number of them being children. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)  (2012 Getty Images)

Pope Francis will be making his first visit to the U.S. next year. He’ll be attending a big convocation in Philadelphia. Go to www.worldmeeting2015.org and open the colorful web page announcing the Catholic World Meeting of Families. The theme is “The Family Fully Alive.” And right next to the theme, the picture of a family I recognize perfectly. It’s Mami, Papi, the kids, and of course, Abuelita holding the squirming toddler: The Hispanic family.

The World Meeting of Families will be an attempt to combat the forces that are destroying the Latino (and white and black) families. Some of these forces are our hedonistic culture, rampant materialism, the radical and selfish liberalization of morals, and a culture which rejects permanent choices.

- Grazie Pozo Christie

When I was growing up, every Hispanic family I knew looked like this. Transgenerational, united, standing close together, fully alive. We didn’t speak English very well, and Mami and Papi were out working all day, at least six days a week, but we were safe and secure in our modest homes. We heard the same instructions every day from our parents and grandparents: Work hard, take care of each other, obey your teachers, make us proud. Compared to my children today, materially we were destitute. Two pairs of shoes a year, and our party dresses were machine sewn by Abuelita for peanuts. But in spirit we were rich.

Fewer and fewer families look like the happy group on the website. Like all families in the U.S., Latino families have dramatically changed in the last couple of decades. The litany of sad statistics just seems endless. According to the Pew Research Center, nearly half of Hispanic births were to unmarried women in 2013. Whether you are white, black or other, being born to an unmarried mom, even if the father is cohabiting with her, leads to more juvenile delinquency, school failure, welfare use, and drug use. 

Take any measure of social success you can think of, and the stability of an intact family with the presence of a father in the daily lives of his children guarantees significantly better outcomes. And, of course, the personal and spiritual enrichment can’t be measured.

I’m not surprised the organizers of the event have chosen the Hispanic family for their front page photo. Although as Latinos we make up 17 percent of the population, nearly a quarter of all births nationwide were to Hispanics last year. As the Latino family goes, so goes the nation and the general culture.

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This is because the family is not just a casual arrangement of people who depend on each other and love each other. The family is the foundation for society and the State. It is the place values are transmitted and learned. Ideally these values are loyalty, love for work and truth, respect between generations, brotherhood, and the joy of life. Can nontraditional family arrangements serve to transmit these values? Sure, sometimes, but not as effectively or dependably.

Our culture has seen an unprecedented jettisoning of the idea that the best way to raise the next generation (which will be taking care of us in turn, let’s not forget) is that old tried and true formula: the permanent union of a man and woman, devoted in turn to the welfare of their children. There’s a war on traditional marriage and it looks like Hispanics are some of the biggest losers. The professorial and editorial class preaches that marriage is obsolete, but they are not following their own instructions, and their illegitimacy rate is much lower. Lucky them.

The World Meeting of Families will be an attempt to combat the forces that are destroying the Latino (and white and black) families. Some of these forces are our hedonistic culture, rampant materialism, the radical and selfish liberalization of morals, and a culture which rejects permanent choices.

But I am hopeful. I learned that kind of hope when I was young, and my family was a happy cocoon in a scary world. Perhaps the best way will be to joyfully proclaim the profound human and existential value of the family, in all its goodness and beauty. We Hispanics don’t have to dig too far back into our past to remember that safe and joyful place: nuestra familia.

Dr. Grazie Pozo Christie specializes in radiology in the Miami area and serves on the advisory board for The Catholic Association.

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