In the last week, Catholic bishops have teamed up with New York Mayor Bill DeBlasio to support President Obama’s defiance of immigration law, and to oppose Donald Trump’s sworn duty to enforce it.
This curious alliance raises a fundamental question that goes to the heart of the challenge faced by faithful Catholics in today’s prevailing secular culture.
It’s no secret. For the past eight years, the Obama Administration has attacked religious freedom on numerous fronts, from the notorious “HHS Contraception Mandate” and supporting Planned Parenthood’s sale of fetal body parts to the campaign for SSM (“same-sex marriage”), going so far as to insist on incorporating sexual preference into the “rights” protected by the Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The same goes for the administration’s support of universal, free abortion on demand until the moment of birth, both at home and abroad, funded by the taxpayer in domestic legislation as well as “family planning” components included in foreign aid programs.
In their attempts to defend the rights of Catholics – and other like-minded citizens – in such cases, Catholic bishops have valiantly insisted that the government must respect the rule of law regarding religious liberty. They have repeatedly pleaded with the courts and the administration to respect these fundamental rights.
Yet the Catholic bishops’ defiance of existing law regarding immigration puts the bishops’ argument in a profoundly weakened position with regard to principle: shorn of emotional trappings, their argument says simply that they want the federal government to vigorously support laws that they like while intentionally allowing those that they don’t like to go unenforced, all by design.
Sometimes their campaign gets disconcerting. I’ve never heard a Catholic bishop publicly console the families of the hundreds of innocent victims murdered by illegal aliens. Apparently, the Catholic bishops believe that even acknowledging publicly the profound sense of pain and loss of the surviving families – many of them Catholics – would weaken their pro-amnesty lobbying efforts.
The silence goes beyond “Thou Shalt Not Kill”: I’ve never heard a Catholic bishop publicly insist that immigrants – either legal or illegal – obey the Commandments, “Thou Shalt Not Steal” and “Thou Shalt Not Bear False Witness” when the immigrant discovers how easy it is to enjoy the “piñata” of dozens of welfare programs without meeting the legal requirements for qualification. (Those aliens in America who benefit from these programs are able to live on an economic level equal to that of their hard-working middle-class neighbors that they left behind in Mexico and Central America).
This domestic corruption has a foreign counterpart. I’ve never heard a Catholic bishop demand that immigration authorities acknowledge the endemic corruption imposed on Mexicans by their lawless elites. That demand would require bringing strict scrutiny to the processing of potential entry into the United States of outright criminal aliens. After all, in Mexico, Catholic Cardinals have been assassinated, dozens of Catholic priests have been killed, and mayors attempting to enforce the law have been tortured and killed, with their heads left on the steps of City Hall.
These facts would suggest that our authorities exercise due diligence. But this reality is profoundly ignored by our prelates. On the contrary: I’ve seen countless Catholic bishops imply that those Americans who support the rule of law regarding immigration are “xenophobes,” “racists,” and “bigots.”
Curious: even as the Catholic bishops insist that “charity” demands that Americans join with Obama to admit millions of aliens, legal and illegal, to our country, the bishops’ blanket condemnation of those who oppose their personal political views in such moralistic terms hardly oozes with charity.
In fact, I have personally written over a dozen prominent Catholic bishops regarding the issue. Both Canon Law, which governs the operation of the Church, and the Catholic Catechism, which articulates the Church’s teaching, affirm the rights of the laity to disagree on particulars of social and political policy. At the same time, however, Catholics are indeed required to affirm timeless truths of the faith regarding the Trinity, the Incarnation, and other theological fundamentals, as well as the moral teaching of the Church, however unpopular these days (for instance, the Church’s teachings on sex, marriage, and the family).
I have asked these bishops – each one a leader of the pro-amnesty movement in the American church – a simple question, using the specific language of Canon Law (Canons 750-753):
“Your Excellency, must I embrace and support your political views regarding immigration law with the same “religious submission of the intellect and will” to which I must embrace the teachings of [The Church’s teachings regarding sex, family, and marriage]?”
I’ve written over a dozen Catholic bishops, all of them outspoken leaders of the pro-amnesty movement, to ask this question.
Not one will answer.
Why the silence?
[This is the second of a series on the role of the Catholic Church in the decline and fall of the Republic].