Bringing denominations together sometimes challenging

At Bread for the World’s annual gathering Monday, a panel of Hispanic religious leaders from various denominations was convoked. They said they were setting doctrinal differences aside to work on issues on which they had common cause, like hunger, poverty and immigration.

However, speakers talked about some of the tensions that still exist among different faiths. The Rev. Juan Martinez, a Church of the Brethren minister, recalled trying to set up a Hispanic pan-Christian clergy breakfast at Fuller Theological Seminary in Atlanta, where he teaches. After much internal deliberation, he said, he decided against inviting Catholics out of fear of alienating the Protestant clergy he hoped would attend.

At another event he organized, Rev. Martinez said, an Episcopal bishop supported the endeavor with a monetary contribution, but shied away from attending himself, saying his presence would be too divisive.

Another panel speaker was an Augustinian Recollect priest who is director of the Hispanic Pastoral Institute in Newark, N.J., sponsored by the Archdiocese of Newark, which educates both Catholics and Protestants. A Protestestant minister let it be known he would not attend any events sponsored by the institute because of the name of the building in which it is housed: Centro Guadalupe, named after Our Lady of  Guadalupe.

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