Saturday, February 25, 2006

Immigration reform and the USCCB

I have to say that I am glad that the published position of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops on immigration reform as reported in this week's East Tennessee Catholic does not have the force of doctrine or dogma. USCCB position papers are just that, the bishops' collective position on some issue of the day. Many times, they are reflective of doctrine or dogma (such as the statement in 2004 on public officials who thwart the Church's teaching on aborticide) and have the force of that kind of authority. Other times, they merely reflect the bishops' desire for justice to be done with respect to a certain issue, and can be (but are usually not) wrong. I have known of several cases where particular bishops advised their flocks to disregard some USCCB statement or other as not being reflective of the teachings of the Universal Church.

That's not to say the USCCB should be ignored by any means, as frequently (and more often than not) they are right on the money, and they do reflect Church teaching. However, non-Catholics should know that a national bishops' conference is a collegial body, it is not a part of the Church hierarchy (which remains: layman-deacon-priest-bishop-Pope), it is merely made up of members of that hierarchy.

On the issue of immigration reform, I must respectfully, and with deference to my spiritual leaders in the Lord, charitably disagree with this latest public stand by the Bishops' Conference. The flaw lies not with the desire to deal humanely with migrants, but in the notion that it is alright to let millions of undocumented aliens from another country run all over our country illegally and even have the right to the public benefits and privileges of a citizen.

To be fair to the bishops' collective mindset, they do have an interest in this that supercedes the earthly sovereignty of the United States of America: The vast majority of these illegal migrants are Catholics. When they come here, the Church in America is responsible for their spiritual well-being, and for a good many of them, it is the one place they can go where they know they will be safe. (By an ancient provision of Canon Law, anyone can take refuge in the Church.) It is also the place many of them go for food, clothing, or subsistence when they arrive. Beyond that, because they are Catholics, I am utterly certain there is an element of "Catholicizing by default" thought in the minds of the USCCB. A lot of these folks are good Catholics; they go to Mass, observe the precepts of the Church, many are socially conservative, and they don't contracept their children away. It is easy to see why the USCCB might think "well...the more the merrier!"

Simply allowing illegals to run free in our country is a threat to our sovereignty, security, and national culture. I have no problem with Mexicans and those from other Latin American countries coming to America in the hopes of building a better life. Here's the catch: If you want to come to America, I don't care where you are from, but you had better have one goal in mind, and that goal should be becoming an American citizen. If you are coming here just to work and have no intent on swearing allegiance to the country that is giving you that greater opportunity, you need to go home and give that opportunity to someone else from your country who does love America, and values the opportunity here so much that they want to join the American family.

I do not favor any sort of policy of "Mexicans Out."

My policy would be "Citizenship or Out."


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