By Joyce Coronel
The Catholic Sun
Hispanic leaders came together in front of the state Capitol May 14 to publicly sign a declaration of values that addresses threats to the family.
Representatives of the Catholic, Evangelical and Mormon communities stood on the Capitol lawn in front of the Arizona Legislature and spoke out about threats to the family and the need to unite. The bilingual event, organized by Grupo Valores Familiares, or Family Values Group, featured speeches and prayers by local community leaders as well as the ceremonial signing of the declaration and kicked off the day-long inaugural International Festival on the Family.
Cristofer Pereyra, director of the Office of Hispanic Missions for the Diocese of Phoenix, said the event was held in part to stem the tide of the abandoning of traditional values among Hispanics.
EN ESPAÑOL: Líderes hispanos a través del espectro religioso, político firman ‘Declaración de Valores’
Hispanics, Pereyra said, come to the U.S. with a strong set of traditional Christian values, but in many instances “not long after immigrants come here, they tend to assimilate the wrong set of values. … We want to tell people that it’s OK to hold on to your values. You can still be part of American culture and that’s exactly the best contribution that you can bring to this country.”
Ken Smith, a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, pointed to the shared values among Mormons, Catholics and Evangelicals.
“We have some differences of doctrine, but we share a lot more values than we have differences,” said Smith, who is the former president of a Spanish-speaking Mormon branch in Mesa. “The family is being attacked and it’s being destroyed and we’re losing the battle … those people who share traditional values are now pushing back. We’re not going to stand for it. We’re going to protect our families.”
The Rev. Jose Gonzalez, founder and CEO of Arizona Christian Link, represented the Evangelical community and spoke of the common values and goals of the coalition. “Different religions have different doctrines, but we have a common ground. … We need to be strong, and come together to defend and protect our family values,” Gonzalez said.
Fr. Charles Goraieb, pastor of St. Timothy Church, spoke on behalf of the Catholic contingent in the coalition. He pointed out that although some see “promoters of false ideologies as enemies, that’s short-sighted … the real enemy of the family is Satan. He wants to destroy the family because he knows that he can destroy the family, he can prevent us from experiencing God’s mercy and love.”
The Declaration of Values signed by the faith leaders and members of the audience stated that signers reject abortion; attempts at redefining marriage; and the promotion of narcoculture in film, radio, and television. They also promised to promote “authentic family values and defend that which is sacred to us.”