Making his own effort to explain Latino Catholic support for same-sex marriage in California, Joseph M. Palacios offers the following:
It is important to note that modern Latin Catholicism has a dual
nature: it is “conservative” in the sense of family communalism and
tradition that the church offers, yet it is classically “liberal” in the
sense of not wanting the Catholic Church to have power in political
life– particularly after the long historical experience of the Latin
American Church “meddling in politics.” As Mexicans put it: “No meta en
la política.” A sizable majority of U.S. Latino Catholics shares
these attitudes with them. Increasingly they are joining their Latin
counterparts in accepting gays and lesbians as part of the social family
that is both Catholic and liberal.
This makes sense to me–particularly since so large a proportion of Latinos in California have roots in Mexico, where keeping the church out of public life has been a state ideology since the revolution.
What’s worth pondering are the implications of this for Catholicism in America. Over the past couple of decades, the (mostly non-Latino) hierarchy has become increasingly inclined to meddle in politics–an inclination most recently manifested in the USCCB’s effective alliance with the Republican Party in seeking to block health care reform.
As the church becomes increasingly Latino, it will be interesting to see if the rank and file become “Americanized” into a more assertive political stance, or if they stick to their own inclination, and continue to ignore the bishops’ heated rhetoric about how (in this case) same-sex marriage signals the end of civilization as we know it. It’s even possible, I suppose, that the bishops will take a deep breath and consider the virtues of keeping a respectful distance between the church’s norms and the norms of a pluralistic civil society.