Pope John Paul II successor

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The College of Cardinals are preparing for the election of Pope John Paul II’s successor. There is a possibility the next successor could be from Latin America. Daniel Ramirez, Arizona State University Assistant Professor of Religious Studies talks about Catholicism and Hispanics today.

>>José Cárdenas:
Tonight on "Horizonte," Hispanics make up a big portion of those mourning the passing of the Pope. We'll talk to an ASU instructor about that. Arizona's office of homeland security has a plan to deal with terrorism. We'll talk to the head of the agency about that plus we'll get his reaction on the minute men. We'll talk to an author written for Childsplay. That's coming up next on "Horizonte."


>>José Cárdenas:
40% of the world's Catholics come from Latin America. If it weren't for Hispanic migration to the United States, the Catholic church in America may not have grown in the last few decades and now there is the possibility of the next pope coming from a Latin America country. Here to talk about that and Hispanics and religious is Daniel Ramirez an instructor of religious studies at Arizona State University. Thank you for joining us.


>> Daniel Ramirez:
Yes, sir.


>>José Cárdenas:
The Pope's passing has dominated the airwaves for the past week. Give us your general observations about the significance of his passing and what it may mean for the third world.


>> Daniel Ramirez:
I think first we have to recognize the deep affection between him and the Latin American U.S. Latino flock, evidenced by his five visits to Mexico, for example. I think his passing is a moment of global consciousness where the church has to come to terms with the fact that the majority of its flock is third world. 40% of its flock is Latin American and the ramifications of that for leadership and policy are upper most on the cardinals' minds right now.


>>José Cárdenas:
The conclave to select the new Pope will start tomorrow morning after the funeral. What are the odds that we will see a third world Pope, more specifically, someone from Latin American?


>> Daniel Ramirez:
I think they are stronger than they have ever been, given the precedent setting non-Italian Pope with his Papacy. He has burst that open. Of the 117 cardinals, I think 14 are from -- rather 21 are from Latin America, 11 from Asia, 11 from Africa, so you have this strong possibility, if they all work in concert with each other, but that's not the only way to slice it. There are also way to his slice it ideologically, Theo logically and other criteria.


>>José Cárdenas:
You talked about the precedent of the non-Italian Pope. Some say that because of that it will be an Italian.


>> Daniel Ramirez:
They have their candidates in mind. The one from Milan, his profile is rather high right now. So, it may be a contest between Europe and the rest of the world. I think the variable will be the Australians and the north Americans to see which way they incline.


>>José Cárdenas:
The swing voting block there?


>> Daniel Ramirez:
As it were.


>>José Cárdenas:
The Pope seemed to have a very special relationship with Latin America and Mexico in particular. And it started off in kind of a strange way. You have a Pope who is one of the most important powerful political figures of our day.


>> Daniel Cardenas:
Uh-huh.


>>José Cárdenas:
Actively involved in what he saw as the fight against communism. Among his first trips to Latin America he is lecturing Nicaraguan priests about working in politics. What do you think about that?


>> Daniel Ramirez:
There will be two contenders that the church had to go up against, Marxism and Pentecostalism. During this Papacy he curtailed and cornered that sector of the church with strategic naming and placing of bishops and cardinals, corralling of theologians and in the case of the Sandinista, putting pressure on them to place themselves out of office. In terms of the second challenge, I think that's still to be seen what the outcome is going to be.


>>José Cárdenas:
What did his rejection of liberation theology, the famous at least some viewers -- his treatment of archbishop Romero in less than a kind way. Did that hurt the Catholic church and the Pope in Latin America?


>> Daniel Ramirez:
Depends who you ask. I think in terms of some of the prelates it was exactly what they wanted him to do was get rid of those elements of the church, so you have very powerful cardinals who precisely asked for that agenda. You have the disaffected elements of the church that are on the margins right now, are licking their wounds, outside of the church. It's no surprise that, for example, in the last census of Mexico, you have a high -- a notable rise in non-religion affiliated -- not necessarily going to Protestant option but rather going into non-religious places.


>>José Cárdenas:
In talking about Mexico, a very interesting dynamic there between the church and the State dating back to the revolution. In fact, the Pope visited -- his first trip technically a violation of Mexican law because he was dressed in clerical garb. Tell us about that history of church and state in Mexico.


>> Daniel Ramirez:
It's a long and bloody history, beginning with the presidency of Benito Juarez, actually in the 19th century where the liberals fought conservatives. The liberals were the Masons and those who drank deeply of the wells of the French revolution and wanted to curtail the church's power and wealth. That gets revived in the Mexican revolution. As it consolidates, the church often had to fight for its own prerogatives.


>>José Cárdenas:
Most notably the Cristero rebellion in the 30s?


>> Daniel Ramirez:
That was a case of a bottom-up rebellion which the church fomented but it was an outbreak of armed conflict from 1926 to '29.


>>José Cárdenas:
There is an interesting connection there.


>> Daniel Ramirez:
As a result of the conflicts, 25 priests were martyred by the socialist government and army. They were, of course, martyrs on the other side, but in the regions of western Mexico, you had this long-standing veneration of these priests and then there were two other lay people that -- at the end of his Papacy got fast tracked into sainthood and in the year 2000, 27 of them were canonized as saints of Mexico.


>>José Cárdenas:
You had President FOX who was the most openly Catholic president of Mexico. But even as recently as the Pope's last visit to Mexico, getting a lot of criticism for open displays of affection and obedience to church authority. What's going on there?


>> Daniel Ramirez:
Fox was unabashedly Catholic. He got slapped on the wrists for it because it was unconstitutional but had effectively sent the message out. It has kept up this pattern of pushing the envelope in terms of church-state relations.


>>José Cárdenas:
Huge controversy when the kissed the priest's ring?


>> Daniel Ramirez:
Yes, he was terribly criticized for that. But it began in 1992 with the opening of diplomatic relations and the revisions of the constitution in terms of religion in 1992.


>>José Cárdenas:
Many have said that the Pope has a special relationship or had with the virgin Mary, and certainly in Mexico, that may have been illustrated by the conferring sainthood on Juan Diego, the story of him and our lady of Guadalupe. Observations about that?


>> Daniel Ramirez:
Certainly he is a Marian. His devotion to Mary is no surprise and that he should latch on to our lady of Guadalupe is not surprising. What's surprising is that he did it in the face of internal church opposition given the lack of historical proof of the very life and existence of Juan Diego.


>>José Cárdenas:
Opposition from Mexico?


>> Daniel Ramirez:
Not only Mexico but the Abbott of the Basilica. They sent confidential memos to the Vatican asking them not to fast track the canonization process for these very reasons. That got leaked and push came to shove. There were lots of church politics in play. In the end, he was canonized in 2002.


>>José Cárdenas:
We've only got 30 seconds left. Your observations on what the new Pope will mean to Hispanics in the United States?


>> Daniel Ramirez:
He has large shoes to fill. Aside from shoring up orthodoxy, John Paul II's charisma is a hard bill to follow. That may be on the prelate's minds.


>>José Cárdenas:
Thank you for joining us on "Horizonte." For those of you planning to watch the funeral, it will be airing tomorrow morning at 12:40 a.m. on Channel 8. The Arizona office of homeland security has a new plan to deal with terrorist attacks in our state. We'll talk to the head of the agency, but first, a quick look at the plan.


>> Mike Sauceda:
The Arizona state homeland security strategy provides direction for enhancing the capacity to prevent terrorist attacks in Arizona. The plan also seeks to reduce Arizona's vulnerability to terrorism and other critical hazards, minimize the damage if an attack occurs and help recover from terrorism. Among the goals of the Arizona state homeland security strategy, enhance and maintain assessment and detection capabilities. Create secure intelligence and information sharing networks, bolster response and recovery capabilities and protect emergency respond during the course and support national and state strategies for securing the border. The plans goals are supported by 17 objectives. Among those, to incorporate the private sector, to implement federal and state standards for hardening public and private key assets and critical infrastructure, to equip a statewide information and referral system, develop a protocol to treat disease outbreak and biological and chemical weapon attacks, to incorporate federal and state legal legislative review in the Homeland Security Office. The plan includes an implementation plan.


>>>José Cárdenas:
Here to discuss the plan and other issues is Frank Navarrete, director of the office of homeland security. Thank you for joining us on "Horizonte."


>> Frank Navarrete:
Pleased to be here, Cardenas.


>>José Cárdenas:
Homeland security is big news. At the national level we have top off 3. Tell us what that is.


>> Frank Navarrete:
Top off 3 is one of -- is a congressionally mandated weapons of mass destruction exercise conducted nationally every year. This is the third one, obviously. It also includes international players. What it does is tests your readiness and capability of responding to something of that magnitude. These are very big exercises. Mass casualties, etc., etc., which tests your first responder capability.


>>José Cárdenas:
And top off 4 will have an Arizona connection?


>> Frank Navarrete:
Well, the good news is we've been selected for top off 4. The bad news is we've been selected for top off 4. I say that jokingly because it's a big challenge. It involves people. It's expensive, and the Governor requested to be selected or positioned ourselves in the position to be selected. We were selected last month. I think that speaks to Arizona's capabilities and readiness on a national level, because I'm sure they wouldn't select someone that's going to embarrass the country in something like that.


>>José Cárdenas:
When will this take place?


>> Frank Navarrete:
April of 2007. I've got six people back monitoring top off 3. I have got two people in New Jersey and two people at the command center in Washington D.C. monitoring this so they can help us plan when they return.


>>José Cárdenas:
You've got a new person in charge at the federal level. What have you notice beside the transition from Secretary Ridge to his successor?


>> Frank Navarrete:
I've not met the new secretary yet. One thing that I have noticed and I like is the fact that his vision with respect to how they are going to support local or state agencies is focused on threat, risk and consequences, and they are not putting as much emphasis on population, which I think is good for Arizona. If you take population into the program, you know, we don't do as well. So, we believe he may come out early may and we're trying to schedule a meeting with him with the Governor. We think it would be a good opportunity for us to share with him some of what's going on in Arizona, what some of our concerns are and how they could help us.


>>José Cárdenas:
Any concern that Washington, just as a general matter, not necessarily the new secretary, just doesn't fully comprehend or appreciate the problems of the border states?


>> Frank Navarrete:
Well, I hate to second guess and suggest that they don't. We had a very good relationship with secretary Hutchison, who came out here often. He understood the border. He understood border issues. Unfortunately, there is a certain amount of turn that's taken place back there with the new secretary and we're going to do our best to try to make sure that the people he brings along with him understand what our concerns are. And to that point, we're also working very closely with Texas, New Mexico and California, because we have a lot of common issues, and as we aggregate those issues and I think he gives us a stronger voice for the southwest border issues.


>>José Cárdenas:
Back here in Arizona, you just completed a summit focusing on security.


>> Frank Navarrete:
Yes, as a matter of fact, the Governor hosted her first annual homeland security summit last week. It was very interesting. We had in excess of 200 people attend. We broke out the regional groups into work study sessions and they reported back to the Governor at the end of the day and then we carried it over to the next day. They came up with some -- what they did is they identified problems that they felt were unique to their regions and then we consolidated them all statewide and then they prioritized them so it gives us either a reference point or reinforces our belief as to us taking the right direction in terms of maintaining homeland security within the State of Arizona.


>>José Cárdenas:
What were some of those priorities identified?


>> Frank Navarrete:
In-operability which is the ability for first responders to communicate with one another. That's a universal problem.


>>José Cárdenas:
That garnered the most media attention.


>> Frank Navarrete:
Yes, it did. It's a real issue. It was very evident during the 911 exercise where the firemen couldn't communicate with the policemen and some of the firemen couldn't communicate with one another because they had different frequencies, different types of radios and they just couldn't talk. We have already -- we've made inroads into that area. We've equipped all of our border counties along the Mexican border on the U.S. side with software black box, if you will, that enables the local law enforcement people to speak with the sheriff, with DPS, with border patrol, and with customs and also our Mexican counterparts. We've already tested that. It works well and we're in the process of expanding that throughout the state.


>>José Cárdenas:
Is there any funding going into Mexico to help us secure our borders?


>> Frank Navarrete:
Can't do that with the funding that we receive. However, one thing we have done is we've done a lot of bi-national training. We've trained a lot of their people along the border in Mexico as well as our fire folks. We're also conducting some law enforcement training, again, bi-national training exercises. Today we've trained in excess of 900 international first responders along the border. The reason we think that's important is because we have these mutual aid agreements between the cities along the border and some with the state of Sonora, and whenever something occurs, we will come to aid them and they will come to aid us and it's nice to know how each other works.


>>José Cárdenas:
The border has been the subject of a lot of press coverage the last few days, beginning with the announcement that we were going to have 500 plus new border agents. What can you tell us about that?


>> Frank Navarrete:
Arizona border patrol initiative phase II. Phase I was initiate beside a year ago. And phase II has calls for the addition of 500 border patrol agents over a period of time. Additional helicopters, additional search and rescue teams, additional mechanics and pilots. It augments the existing force that exists already.


>>José Cárdenas:
You had the minute men show up. Is it just coincidence that the announcement of the border patrol phase II project comes when you have all of this attention focused on the Arizona border?


>> Frank Navarrete:
It clearly was a coincidence. It had no bearing on the minute men project paramedic I'm very convinced of that.


>>José Cárdenas:
They can't claim credit for it happening?


>> Frank Navarrete:
I can't say they can't claim credit, but I can't tell you that they don't deserve credit for it.


>>José Cárdenas:
What can you tell us about the minuteman project? What's going on and has it caused problems for you?


>> Frank Navarrete:
It has not caused any problems for us. We respect people's first amendment rights. We understand that and we made it clear to them, it's a local law enforcement issue. Border patrol has their mission and they are well prepared to take care of their mission, and we made it also clear that they have the right to be down there, but if they break the law, they'll suffer the consequences. We've had a lot of cooperation from the Mexican government. Up until now, we haven't had any significant incidents. The press, of course, has been down there en masse and it's drawn a lot of international press. Now, that's not the answer. The minute men is not the answer, however, I think it's a symbolic gesture, what the people are doing down there.


>>José Cárdenas:
I understand there is exciting new news about the new Intel center. What can you tell us about that.


>> Frank Navarrete:
That's one of the objectives of our strategic plan, to create an intelligence center. We have created a large intelligence center located in Phoenix, that is tied to international intelligence networks and it's considered one of two best practices in the nation by the national Governor's association. We're very proud of that. It consists of 200 law enforcement personnel, including 10 federal agencies and again, it's one of the best practices in the nation.


>>José Cárdenas:
Well, Frank, thank you for joining us to talk about that project. Good luck on the rest of your work.


>> Frank Navarrete:
Thank you very much.


>>José Cárdenas:
Childsplay is Arizona's theater company for young people and families. It has an Hispanic playwright to write new plays. Here' a quick overview of the Childsplay theater company.


>> Mike Sauceda:
Child play is a theater company for young audiences and families. Since 1977 their mission is to create original theater. Childsplay is an internationally respected theater company. It is one of the state leading arts and education providers. They reach more than 140,000 students and 250 schools each year with curriculum based performances by offering in classroom multiweek programs lead by adult actors. Childsplay has a statewide school touring program performing 400 performances annually. They are designed to help students develop creative expression, thinking and social skills. When it comes to community responsibility, Childsplay leads the country in the creation of new plays addressing critical topics for children. Last season Childsplay became the first company to create a performance about teen depression and suicide.


>>José Cárdenas:
Here to tell us about the plays he's written for Childsplay is Jose Cruz Gonzalez. Thank you for joining us.


>> Jose Cruz Gonzalez:
Thank you.


>>José Cárdenas:
Why is Childsplay important? Aren't there other ways to communicate these subjects to the students?


>> Jose Cruz Gonzalez:
Absolutely. What I think is important here is that we have art, that is being able to address some of these issues, and Childsplay is one of the best theater companies in the United States. I've been across the country and I continue to come back here because of the artistic quality, the level of the work and the ensemble that they have created there.


>>José Cárdenas:
How long have you been associated with Childsplay?


>> Jose Cruz Gonzalez:
I started in 1997 when I first met David at the Kennedy Center with the highest heaven.


>>José Cárdenas:
How many plays have you written for Childsplay?


>> Jose Cruz Gonzalez:
I've written four plays. I'm working on a book about Tomas Vera.


>>José Cárdenas:
Let's talk about some of the plays you have written and how they were received.


>> Jose Cruz Gonzalez:
The first one was the highest heaven, a play, a coming of age story of a little Latino boy that takes place during the 1930s. He is repatriated to Mexico along with his family, and it's a journey of a little boy who has got to find a way to come home and find his family and so, a play, a Childsplay, play -- for young people, addressing some tough issues, but also about hope and about an American story.


>>José Cárdenas:
What is the age of the target audience?


>> Jose Cruz Gonzalez:
This was for elementary schoolchildren. It was done in such an incredible production.


>>José Cárdenas:
Tell us about some of your other work.


>> Jose Cruz Gonzalez:
Sure. Another piece we did was a piece called salt and pepper which dealt with a family of -- where there is a big secret of a grandfather who can't read. Family from the southwest someplace, and then the little migrant girl, pepper, who loves to read. And it's about this friendship between salt and pepper, and it's about how they both sort of come to deal with some loss, but at the same time, find friendship and hope.


>>José Cárdenas:
Now, the work that Childsplay does covers a whole range of subjects and experiences and different groups. Your work tends to focus particularly on Hispanics?


>> Jose Cruz Gonzalez:
Well, not necessarily, but in this process, in the last -- of the five projects I've worked on, four of them have had Latino theme, characters or -- and story lines, and this current one I'm working on, Thomas and the library lady by Pat Moore, which is a book that we're going to adapt, is, again, a Latino issue, story, about Thomas Rivera who was the first Chicano to become a chancellor of a major university in one of the UCs.


>>José Cárdenas:
Who will the target audience be?


>> Jose Cruz Gonzalez:
This will go from K to 6, K to 5.


>>José Cárdenas:
Is the demographics of the student population change becoming increasingly Latino? Is that important?


>> Jose Cruz Gonzalez:
Well, I think what's important is that the company is continuing to reach out to the community and one way is that they have been reaching out is creating, again, diverse body of work that is reaching communities and one particular is our Latino community. There is a lot of children out there that I think need to hear those stories, not only of themselves, but of the community that we have, and we have such a richness here in the United States of so many diverse Latino communities, and those stories should be told, like TOMAS's story.


>>José Cárdenas:
Childsplay is nationally recognized. Why is that?


>> Jose Cruz Gonzalez:
One of the wonderful things is the quality of work they are doing. The production values are across the board in terms of the artist industry. I would say that they are one of the top five in the United States.


>>José Cárdenas:
Let's talk about old Jake's skirts, which issued emphasize is the name of a play that you are working on right now.


>> Jose Cruz Gonzalez:
Right, it's actually on tour. It's going to perform at the Tempe performing arts center on May 7 for a public performance for three weeks. Old Jake's skirts is a book that I adapted by a local author here in Arizona, see C. Anne Scott. An old farmer finds a trunk the skirts and how his life slightly improves with just a little bit of color that he starts using to patch up his clothes and his curtains and a scarf for his dog. It's a sweet story that uses live bluegrass music.


>>José Cárdenas:
Let's talk about that creative process. What attracts you as a writer?


>> Jose Cruz Gonzalez:
Well, what attracts me is good material, plus the process that we do at Childsplay is a collaborative process. I love working with a lot of people. It's like familia to me. You bring in a director, designers, composers, actors, and you work together in the room trying to find a great way to tell this story, and so you've got a million ideas, you know, floating around, and as a writer, what a wonderful way to go and say I'm going to take this idea and that idea and then weave them into, you hope, a wonderful story.


>>José Cárdenas:
As part of that weaving process are there particular themes you are trying to communicate to children?


>> Jose Cruz Gonzalez:
Well, I think that the spirit of the child -- you know, what's important about a child is the empowerment of children. Most often they don't have control of their lives. They are told what to do, when to do it and there is something about, I think, a child's spirit and that sometimes they can, you know, accomplish so many things, and it's really for me, about empowerment.


>>José Cárdenas:
We're just about out of time. What attracted you to write plays for children and family?


>> Jose Cruz Gonzalez:
Well, you know, I worked at a major repertory theater for many years. One of the things that I came to discover was the audiences that I was seeing, adult audiences, they weren't Latinos. And to me, one of the things was, I think we can reach them when they are little, and I think that's where it's important, that art be an important element to their lives.


>>José Cárdenas:
Jose Cruz Gonzalez, thanks for sharing that with us. We hope to have you back.


>> Jose Cruz Gonzalez:
Thank you.


>>José Cárdenas:
To see transcripts or information on upcoming shows, visit our web site www.azpbs.org and click on "Horizonte." Thank you for joining us tonight. I'm José Cárdenas. Have a good evening.

Daniel Ramirez: Religious Studies, Arizona State University;

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