Originally published 03/25/2013
He is being hailed with pride and wonder as the “first Latino pope,” a native Spanish speaker born and raised in the South American nation of Argentina. But for some Latinos in the United States, there’s a catch: Pope Francis’ parents were born in Italy.Such recent European heritage is reviving debate in the United States about what makes someone a Latino. Those questioning whether their idea of Latino identity applies to Pope Francis acknowledge that he is Latin American, and that he is a special inspiration to Spanish-speaking Catholics around the world. Yet that, in their eyes, does not mean the pope is “Latino.”These views seem to be in the minority. But they have become a distinct part of the conversation in the United States as the Latino world contemplates this unique man and moment.—”Are Italians Latino? No,” says Eric Cortes, who has been debating the issue with his friends....