“What, however, does it mean to identify with the poor and the oppressed?” Flores asked. “It means above all that all of us as a Church must be willing to confront and to influence the values and the institutions of our time that so often tend to enslave us.. .. The Church of San Antonio will therefore confront and influence the institutions of our time by proclaiming and calling all to the Truth. . . . The Church of San Antonio in all it does and in all it says will extend its arms and reach out to those who are oppressed, afflicted, lonely, poor, to all those with special needs…. These, the church of San Antonio embraces always with a preferential though not exclusive love.” In another portion of his message, subtitled “A Vision” for the 32-county San Antonio Archdiocese that extends to the Mexican border, Flores said: “What does it mean for a person to be poor? To be poor is to be powerless, to experience alienation and abandonment. To be poor is to experience most sharply the lack of community caused by a breakdown of relationships. To be poor is to feel a sense of helplessness and a lack of hope. To be poor is to have little control over one’s life. To be poor is to have very limited options available for responding to needs. Finally, to be poor is to be voiceless. Today, the Church must speak for and with the poor and the powerless. . . . The Church must work to create the conditions whereby all people can speak and act for themselves, a goal both possible and attainable.” His church’s challenge and blessing, Flores said, “is that it finds itself to be a community of many poor and suffering people. Among these are some who suffer the most: the economically poor, the undocumented, the elderly, women, youth, recently arrived immigrants and the handicapped. . . . “It shall therefore be a priority for the Archidocese of San Antonio,” Flores proclaimed, “to address the basic needs of people who suffer the most. . . . We will place our resources and talents to ward the implementation of this goal.” His program for parish development calls for “actions for justice enabling the church to be priest, prophet, and king.” Flores told reporter Jan Jarboe of the San Antonio News, “This is not an attempt to implant COPS in every parish. What we want to do is to get people to see beyond their four walls so that they can do what they need to in order to improve their lives.” He will commit church funds to pay five or six “enablers” to go to each parish, look into people’s problems, and help seek solutions. He said he will revise the church’s structures and resources to “fulfill the preferences and priorities of this Archdiocese,” and those who hang back are “going to be held accountable.” What this means in practice lies ahead, but it’s clear that the Archbishop of San Antonio has firmly turned the Catholic Church of South Texas to confront the needs of the forgotten and the institutions that forget them. R.D. ates the three migrant health clinics in the county. These clinics handled 64,000 office visits in 1980, but as he says, they may be “coming under the Reagan knife.” Politicians have sought him out as an Dr. Ramiro Casso unusual physician with a social conscience. He was a member of the national advisory board of health care for the aged, which worked for the enactment of medicare; the national advisory board for health research facilities; the national advisory board of the national rural housing coalition. He was a participant in White House conferences on health in 1965 and food, nutrition, and health in 1969. He is concluding a fouryear term as former Gov. Dolph Briscoe’s appointee to the Texas Board of Health. Since 1977 he has taught at the UT Health Sciences Center in San An tonio. He is vice-chairman of Metropolitan National Bank in McAllen. But this year he ran for mayor of McAllen, losing to incumbent Othal Brand \(see TO why a man with so many personal, professional, and moral satisfactions in his life plunged into the wild-game hurlyburly of politics. His essay on this page is his answer. Ed. ment the socially-sensitive suffer immensely, while the less sensitive always manage to rationalize or acquiesce. Does this mean that the less socially-sensitive person is better equipped to live in our present world, considering the state of affairs? Is he the type of homo sapiens better adapted to this mean, dishonest and lawless world? Will he, being the fittest to survive, inherit the world? And are the rest of us, who pain and weep because our world isn’t good or just, destined for a natural extinction? To focus on my recent experience, I have just been defeated in a race for mayor of my dear city, McAllen. My opponent had the enormous financial resources to convince the majority of our voters that I am a racist, when all my adult life has been spent fighting racism and intolerance, and by tagging me as Cesar Chavez’s candidate because I have been a life-long friend of the poor farmworkers of South Texas. My opponent, a multi-millionaire, the largest vegetable grower in all of Texas, has been embroiled in a controversy of national notoriety, stemming from the recently disclosed police brutality videotapes, viewed all over the country and abroad, that show McAllen policemen beating mercilessly on handcuffed prisoners during my opponent’s tenure in office. Yet, with his money, he was able to generate such levels of tension and polarization of the community by using the racial and the labor-baiting issues, the national scorn and disgrace he had brought to our city with the police-misconduct videotapes were completely drowned out. It seems that anywhere else in America I should have defeated this man five to one. But not here, where ethnic/racial tensions can still be manipulated by the less scrupulous and where the novel thought of an Hispanic mayor elicits fears akin to the Apocalypse. But, in defeat a mighty blow was struck for justice here, and this will surely be followed by other mighty blows, here and elsewhere, for this is the heart and the soul and the spirit of the Reform of all our institutions, that the vanquished sow today, that others may reap in victory a better city and a better world in the morrow. That is the hope that sustains us. THE TEXAS OBSERVER
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