WASHINGTON, D.C., May 30, 2013 (LifeSiteNews) – Crisis Pregnancy Centers. Silent No More. Rachel’s Vineyard. These names are familiar to the people who make up the pro-life movement in the United States, and in today’s world, it’s easy to keep tabs on them. Facebook, Twitter and other social media have connected different parts of the pro-life movement like never before, offering constant updates, information and conversation.
In recent years, the internet has become an indispensable tool for organizing. But, at least in the Western hemisphere, it is dominated by a single language: English. For those who struggle with the language, the internet can be less useful and more isolating.
Fr. Victor Salomón of Priests for Life is working hard to change that.
Originally from Venezuela, Salomón serves as the Director of Hispanic Outreach for the organization. LifeSiteNews caught up with Fr. Salomón at a recent Washington, D.C. conference. Between meetings, he shared his strategy for bringing the modern pro-life message to the Spanish-speaking world, particularly Hispanic Americans, Latin Americans and South Americans.
“The main thing is, we are trying to make the translation of all the richness that you have here in the United States for our culture,” Salomón explained to LSN. He said his organization translates the messages of groups like Silent No More and posts them to their 56,000-fan Spanish-language Facebook page, so that people who aren’t able to read English-language sites can still hear directly from leaders in the pro-life movement.
Salomón also hosts a Spanish-language program on EWTN called Defendiendo La Vida that reaches Spanish-speakers worldwide. Part of the show is a “Call to Action” in which Salomón asks a specific subset of society – doctors, students, parents, priests – to take concrete steps to advance the cause of life in their home countries. Salomón said he gets electronic messages from around the world each week from people who have responded to these calls. At the time of our interview, he had just received notes from a university student in Bolivia and a physician in Argentina who had each separately started pro-life organizations after watching the program.
Salomón and his organization work closely with Crisis Pregnancy Centers throughout the Hispanic world to make sure women facing hardship pregnancies know they have choices other than abortion. Salomón said there are 85 CPCs in Mexico alone, working to compete with well-funded International Planned Parenthood Federation abortion clinics in Mexico City, where abortion was legalized in 2007.
Salomón said that it is important to recognize that each country has its own unique needs when it comes to spreading the pro-life message.
For Hispanics in the United States, he said, “We are working hard to talk about political responsibility.” Salomón said he sees a “divorce” between Hispanic Americans’ religious convictions and their politics, and observed that while Catholic teaching requires those living in free societies to vote, only about 50 percent of eligible Hispanics register, and only half of those bother to show up at the polls. Those who do often fail to properly educate themselves on the issues.
Salomón said his group has produced non-partisan voter guides for Spanish-speaking U.S. Catholics in an attempt to raise awareness of key issues and better inform their consciences as they head to the polls.
“People have the right to know who is who, who the parties are, and who supports them,” said Salomón.
While Salomón focuses on civic responsibility for U.S. Hispanics, he said other Spanish-speaking countries have their own needs. In Cuba, for example, Salomón said, voter responsibility is not at issue like it is in the U.S., since the government is run by a single party, the Communist Party. But the culture embraces contraception and abortion as necessities, meaning that the pro-life movement must change the hearts of the people before they can ever hope to chance policy.
The best way to change the hearts of Hispanic people, said Salomón, “is through the priests and pastors.” He said that an ecumenical movement of pro-life religious leaders will carry much sway in the Latin world, where many still hold deep respect for clergy. “The voice of the priest and the voice of the pastor are morally connected,” said Salomón. “If they say it, the people will do it.” Salomón has had numerous Spanish-speaking bishops record short messages to share on social media in order to reach those who might not have access to reliably pro-life priests in their local area.
Salomón also highlighted the importance of pro-life Spanish-speaking celebrities, like actors and musicians, to making the pro-life mission more attractive to young people.
More than anything, Salomón said, he believes the pro-life movement must convey a larger sense of urgency. “I have been on retreats for post-abortive healing,” Salomón said, “The deepest, deepest pain I have ever seen is the woman who realizes she killed her baby. It is terrible, and here we are, even inside the Catholic Church, selling this as something that is good for women. No. No.”
Salomón said the pro-life movement has become too polite, and added that he would not be disappointed to see a return to the civil disobedience of the 1980s, when pro-life activists chained themselves to clinic doors and were willing to risk arrest to save babies’ lives.
“We act like this is just part of the culture, killing babies,” he said. “We have to communicate a sense of emergency – we are killing persons.”
As Salomón continues to convey that sense of urgency through his work on social media and on his television show, he says the most important way people of faith can help “is to pray. We must be Disciples of Jesus. If you follow Jesus, you want to help the least of the least.”