Immigration battles

Immigration battles

Cardinal Roger Mahony of LA, who’s assumed the point among US bishops regarding a Congressional bill that would update language in immigration law, has an op-ed in the New York Times on the topic today. Mahony’s initial criticisms of the bill on Ash Wednesday said that it would require all aid groups to request documentation from immigrants who seek their help, but after the bill’s congressional sponsors said the law only updates language so they can prosecute human traffickers, Mahony has changed his tack. Now he criticizes the bill as being too broadly written.

Providing humanitarian assistance to those in need should not be made a crime, as the House bill decrees. As written, the proposed law is so broad that it would criminalize even minor acts of mercy like offering a meal or administering first aid.

Current law does not require social service agencies to obtain evidence of legal status before rendering aid, nor should it. Denying aid to a fellow human being violates a law with a higher authority than Congress — the law of God.

So now he acknowledges that the bill doesn’t actually threaten the aid groups who provide assistance. I think everybody agrees that those who provide humanitarian assistance to the needy, illegal alien or not, should not be impeded. He says that what the bishops want is an overhaul of the immigration system. Amen! The question remains, however, how do we do that and what do we do with the millions of illegals already here?

Another view and prudential judgment

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Written by
Domenico Bettinelli
  • I don’t agree that he acknowledges that the bill doesn’t actually threaten the aid groups who provide assistance.

    He acknowleges that the current law doesn’t but says that the new law being so broad could, or at least that’s my reading.

  • Based on Mahony’s first quote, I’m not sure how you think he’s “changed his tack”.  It seems he’s still claiming the bill will force the Archdiocese to card bums at soup kitchens, and tell the cardless “No soup for you.”


    While I might disagree with his legal opinion, I’m glad Roger has fired up the God talk, and I think he may end up drawing some hard-core Greens into the Catholic orbit, where they might be surprised about what else God’s law says. 

    I say that as a convert who first noticed the glory of the Church when she showed up in full armor to fight on my side in a political battle that looked hopeless, and was.  She brought hope to my heart though, and that stayed.  This wasn’t a hope of political or worldly success, but hope in a man who walked the face of this earth 2,000 years ago, a humble carpenter named Jesus, the Messiah I had been waiting for, who walks the face of this earth even today in the hearts of the successors of the Apostles and those in Communion with them. 

    If by the grace of God some miserable liberal sinner can see in the form of Roger Mahony what this miserable conservative sinner saw one glorious day in the form of a Capuchin friar, then it would have to be the Lord’s doing, marvelous in His eyes. 

    Scarlet running over on the silvers and the golds,
    Breaking of the hatches up and bursting of the holds,
    Thronging of the thousands up that labour under sea
    White for bliss and blind for sun and stunned for liberty.

    Chesterton captures the feeling pretty well.  Evangelization frees people who dwell in darkness.  Our brothers and sisters, sons of Adam and daughters of Eve, are down there and are waiting for someone to break the hatches, though they have forgotten what they are waiting for. 

    Above the ships are palaces of brown, black-bearded chiefs,
        And below the ships are prisons, where with multitudinous griefs,
        Christian captives sick and sunless, all a labouring race repines
        Like a race in sunken cities, like a nation in the mines.
        They are lost like slaves that sweat, and in the skies of morning hung
        The stair-ways of the tallest gods when tyranny was young.
        They are countless, voiceless, hopeless as those fallen or fleeing on
        Before the high Kings’ horses in the granite of Babylon.
        And many a one grows witless in his quiet room in hell
        Where a yellow face looks inward through the lattice of his cell,
        And he finds his God forgotten, and he seeks no more a sign—
        (But Don John of Austria has burst the battle-line!)

    May our zeal for spreading the Gospel never diminish.


    People have been praying for Cardinal Mahony’s conversion for years.  Someone, I think here, said that they thought they saw some sign of it during last year’s Conclave.  (Participation in a conclave automatically absolves a cardinal of any excommunications.)  Now Mahony’s words sound sincere and righteous about this, like he’s really and truly on fire for Gospel principle.  I didn’t think I’d ever see it, and I think I might be seeing it.  Go Roger go!

  • Catechesis also shines light into the hearts of the faithful.  I recommend reading the USCCB Pastoral Statement on Migrants and Refugees, but just the conclusions: points 34-38, especially:

    36. The Church recognizes the right of sovereign nations to control their territories but rejects such control when it is exerted merely for the purpose of acquiring additional wealth.

  • There’s another point here.

    Illegal immigrants, precisely because of their illegal status and not because of their immigrant status, end up participating in one of those ‘structures of sin’ we talk about: they can’t go to the police or other social services out of fear of being deported (until it becomes a life-and-death situation, at which time it’s often too late), other illegal immigrants (and legal ones and citizens) often take advantage of this fact: this lends itself to human trafficking for large sums of money, prostitution, drugs, gangs/gang violence, and extortion: the very many evils that they would be more insulated from if they were here legally.

    I fully support the ‘guest worker’ thing that Republicans want. I support expanded legal immigration, with perhaps longer green-card periods to determine good behavior and encourage integration into society.

    What I don’t want is to let criminals hang around, and I don’t want to maintain the underworld that I see on my streets: there has to be a clean break, and that is why I support requiring presently illegal immigrants to go outside the gates, and have them turn around and ring the nation’s doorbell, so the Government can do our background checks on them, and then we can welcome them back with open arms – everybody is happy, and a clean break from the underworld many of them found themselves in can be made.

  • It is politics that divide this Church.  Mahoney is one of the leaders, sewing that division.

    When I read the posts on this subject, I am struck by how a political struggle can make other Catholics my ENEMY.  Not because I care about open borders (which is the real motive behind all of this), because I don’t.  But because it is based upon a lie.

    If the Bishops really cared so much about feeding the poor, why don’t they ask us, the pew sitters to TITHE?  The Mormons do.  Evangelicals do.  The USCCB?  They want the government to do it, and openly support socialist policies as the solution to EVERYTHING.

    The Churches abysmal track record in confronting the failed and corrupt, socialist govenments of Mexico and Central America stands as a pathetic, hypocritical backdrop to this recent “Gospel grandstanding”.

    Mahoney didn’t suddenly find religion.  He just found a political cause that allowed him *FINALLY” to support his Liberal, Modernist buddies in the open.  He usually does it surepticiously.

    Even now, he has to lie about his concern over “immigration”, when he undeniably KNOWS the discussion is about ILLEGAL immigration.  He hasn’t changed his spots.  He has just found better cover.

  • DaVinci,

    You’re right that it’s politics which divides the Church in the U.S., because politics is about worldly power, and the sower of discord is the prince of this world.  But politics is also what Americans have in common with each other, for it seems like every American likes to offer at least some sacrifice on altars dedicated to one or more ideologies or personalities from the political pantheon. 

    I’m the one who started the Let’s Judge Mahony’s Heart game, and fortunately for us, even if Mahony’s words are motivated solely by cynical political calculation, God can make greater good come from evil.  Even if Mahony is a phony actor, “Harry Reid in scarlet moire silk”, the fact is that he’s proclaiming some bold Gospel truths:

    Denying aid to a fellow human being violates a law with a higher authority than Congress — the law of God.

    This is a logic which, carried honestly to its conclusion, condemns abortion and the euthanasia of Terri Schiavo, and mandates civil disobedience to prevent the same.  In fact, I think I remember Fr. Pavone saying something very similar, when he asked the Florida police to disobey Judge Greer’s orders and let Terri receive water. 

    Because our nation decided to slaughter its young, we now have an economic need to import our next generations and our cheap labor from abroad.  Even if we started reproducing again tomorrow, that need would not evaporate overnight.  This is fortunate for those from abroad and their families back home, because some of them might have starved if our corporate interests didn’t demand that our government turn a blind eye to their status violations. 

    One can break a civil law in order to fulfill God’s law.  A broke Mexican farmer can in good conscience break American law, cross our border illegally, and work illegally in this country, if it’s the only way to feed his family back home.  In fact, it would be a sin for him not to do so.  If Mahony excuses that behavior, well, good for him.

  • But wouldn’t it be great if say during some TV interview a frustrated, embattled Mahony were to say something like “but we need these immigrants, because… well… because… because we have killed off 30+ million of our own children through abortion – which must be stopped at all costs!!”

  • Seamole,

    Nicely put.  If to be cynical is to be “old before one’s time,” I need to rediscover my youth.

    I think you might be reading too much between Cardinal Mahony’s lines, but, it’s true, there’s no way at this point to know exactly what he means.  He deserves the benefit of the doubt…at least on the immigration issue.

  • Folks,

    The spokesman for the USCCB and Mahoney are lying.  In all of their communications, they never ONCE mention ILLEGAL immigration.  NOT ONCE.

    The bible warns us not to attempt to accomplish good by doing evil.  Mahoney’s position is deceitful from the get-go.  No one is attempting to stop the Church from charitable works.  The parts of HR 4437 he keeps referring to are specifically meant to target human trafficking.  To suggest otherwise is also decietful.

    This is about open borders.  Period. 

    If the USCCB doesn’t believe that there is such thing as Illegal Immigration (I challenge you to find ANY mention of Illegal Immigration in the USCCB’s external communications), then all immigration is LEGAL.

    By any other name:  Open Borders.