Sunday, April 20, 2008

More on Immigration and the Pope

This is a good article in the NY Times about Benedict and his recent comments on immigration. It can be read here.  In it, Tom Tancredo actually accuses the pope of "faith based marketing:"

His comments drew a rebuke from Representative Tom Tancredo, a Republican from Colorado who has been a leading opponent of illegal immigration.
Accusing the pope of “faith-based marketing,” Mr. Tancredo said Benedict’s comments welcoming immigrants “may have less to do with spreading the Gospel than they do about recruiting new members of the Church.” Mr. Tancredo, a former Catholic who now attends an evangelical Christian church, said it was not in the pope’s “job description to engage in American politics.”
His comments have also coincided with a raid by enforcement officers on a chicken plant where 300 illegal immigrants were rounded up for deportation:
On the other side of the issue, some members of the Catholic hierarchy said they were shocked that on the same day that Benedict and President Bush affirmed in a joint statement the need for a policy that treats immigrants humanely and protects their families, federal agents were conducting raids at five chicken plants. They arrested more than 300 immigrants accused of being illegal workers.

The timing was coincidental, immigration officials said, and it was not clear whether the pope had known about the arrests when he met with Mr. Bush.

But the raids surprised some American Catholic leaders, who are often on the forefront of advocacy for immigrant rights.

“I was stunned,” said Cardinal Roger Mahony, the archbishop of Los Angeles, the nation’s largest Roman Catholic diocese and one with many Hispanics. “I just feel these raids are totally negative. I thought it was very inappropriate to do it in such a blatant way when the pope was coming, when he has been so outspoken in defending the rights of immigrants.”
Markel, SJ


Markel & Mason said...

Is Cardinal Mahony claiming that government officials staged these arrests as some sort of "negative" statement to the Holy Father?

That is as off-the-mark as Tancredo's comment.

Mason Slidell

Markel & Mason said...

I am also concerned with the "rights talk" that the bishops are using around this issue.

Bishop John Wester of Salt Lake City stated that the Pope impressed upon them the need to defend the "basic human rights immigrants have." I would agree, but I worry about the implications of such language.

For example, it is clear to me that one interpretation of "basic human rights" with regard to immigrants is a right to take up residence anywhere one may want, even in another country not their own.

Am I the only one bothered by such an implication? If we all have the right to live anywhere we choose, then no nation-state has the ability to regulate its borders and countries would cease to exist. Maybe some think that would be a positive step (especially those who support moving toward a single world government), but such a "right" would cause chaos.

Surely the bishops don't support these implications, but they are not making the necessary qualifications when they speak in rights talk. It seems to me that the better avenue for the bishops is to make appeals to compassion and human solidarity in seeking justice for immigrants.

After all, any old liberal can argue for a right to something and, for many, rights talk falls on deaf ears (especially in the age of a "right" to abortion).

Let's call people above and beyond themselves, to be just and merciful and to care about the well-being of their neighbor. That is the Catholic difference!

Mason Slidell