Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Immigration: One Catholic Perspective

As the subject heats up due to the passing of a law in Arizona, here is an excellent article from The Catholic Thing that presents the balanced approach, woven through the social teaching of the Church, one would hope Catholic leadership would espouse rather than politically inspired comments.

An excerpt.

“A seminarian I know, if you can believe this, spent several years after college in Arizona with the U.S. Border Patrol. He decided to enter the seminary after an uncle – a Jesuit – died. The only way he could really help people coming across the border illegally, he realized, was as a priest himself. Yet I have also heard him talk matter-of-factly about drug smugglers spraying Border Patrol agents with automatic weapons. He’s deeply sympathetic to illegals, but also aware that border problems run the gamut from hoards of largely harmless poor people to quite dangerous criminals, and everything in between.

“I wish our political class and some of our bishops were as realistic about the situation. The new Arizonan law on immigration is bad for many reasons, not least that it puts law enforcement officers in an impossible situation of guessing who might be illegal. Bad, but hardly the “Nazi” tactics that L.A.’s Cardinal Mahony called them recently (L.A.’s Latino mayor absurdly added that Latinos are “the Jews of the twenty-first century”). It’s not “racist” either – Arizona as the new Selma, Alabama, opined racial ambulance chaser Jesse Jackson. There’s evidence that Arizonans want to see more legal immigration. But it is a desperate effort to get someone somewhere to stop talking and do something about conditions intolerable to 70 percent of Arizonans. I suspect a fair slice of the other 30 percent also believe something, just not this, is needed to avert a crisis.

“On this issue, the Church ought to be especially careful with her moral authority, which ought to include moral clarity. Cardinal Mahoney’s recently designated successor, Archbishop José Gomez, issued a letter on immigration after he took over in San Antonio. He repeated Church teaching about the dignity of all people, even illegals, and our responsibilities towards them. But he wrote that we have to understand the anger many Americans feel at illegals breaking the law and causing multiple problems. Archbishop Gomez is Mexican-born and favors comprehensive immigration reform. But clearly he does not feel a need to ingratiate himself with Hispanic Catholics.”