FRONT ROYAL, VA — Before the election, American bishops were united
more than ever before in defending the First Amendment rights of
Catholics from the Obama Administration’s frontal attack. But barely
a fortnight passed before the bishops conference lapsed back into
its divisive left-wing mode, calling for higher taxes, massive government
spending, and other Democrat Party priorities. Is this a wise response
to the current crisis?
One of the first such initiatives came from Los Angeles Archbishop
Jose Gomez, who issued yet another call for amnesty for illegal aliens.
Abp. Gomez proposes to bring “mature, reasoned, and compassionate participation
in the immigration debate,” and I take him at his word. His offer comes
at a critical political moment: both parties are scrambling these days
to secure the “Hispanic vote,” and some kind of amnesty is likely to
legalize more than ten million new Hispanic voters. But is Archbishop
Gomez aiming at the right target?
Beyond the political crisis lies the even more critical
cultural moment — the challenge facing the country, and especially
the Church, where Hispanics already constitute a majority of Catholics
under 30. That challenge goes far deeper than mere legislation — after
all, most of the laws on the books now have been ignored for years,
often with the active support of many of Bishop Gomez’s colleagues.
Moreover, whatever legislation come to pass, immigration will continue
to challenge the Church as much as it does the country.
The Catholic Church worldwide has just commenced a “Year
of Faith,” a time of intense reflection, prayer, and service that harmonizes
with Pope Benedict’s ongoing call for the “New Evangelization.” Just
last week, Pope Benedict emphasized that the situation is dire: “One
of the gravest problems of our time is the ignorance of religion on
the part of many men and women, also among the Catholic faithful," he
told a group of visiting bishops. Given that virtually self-evident
truth, is this a time for the Church to be pushing more partisan political
In a pastoral letter issued before the election, Archbishop
Gomez acknowledged the critical distinction between political opinions
on which good Catholics can prudentially disagree and the timeless
truths which Canon Law requires all Catholics to embrace “with religious
submission of mind.” Yet, for the past fifty years the bishops conference
has advocated partisan political agendas literally with abandon — yes,
consciously abandoning the vital moral teachings that could have saved
our culture from its current descent into the prurient abyss. Our bishops
considered those moral issues “too hot to handle,” says conference
president Timothy Cardinal Dolan. As a result, the Church must oppose
homosexual marriage and the HHS Contraceptive Mandate without even
mentioning the intrinsic evils of homosexual sins and contraception.
'cliff' our country faces is moral as well as fiscal, and it
demands that our bishops radically change their focus from political
advocacy to preaching the timeless truths that will make us free.
All of us."
|In essence, for fifty years
the moral voice of the Church has been silent in a time when,
of all times, that voice should have been ringing loud and clear
above the popular culture’s noise of decadence and self-indulgence.
the “cliff” our country faces is moral as well as fiscal, and
it demands that our bishops radically change their focus from
political advocacy to preaching the timeless truths that will
make us free. All of us.
"For fifty years the moral
voice of the Church has been silent in a time when, of all times,
that voice should have been ringing loud and clear above the
popular culture’s noise of
decadence and self-indulgence."
A central goal of the “New Evangelization” is the return
of some thirty million Catholics who left the Church in the years during
which political agendas crowded out sound catechesis, solemn liturgies,
and basic moral formation of two generations of the people in the pews.
The challenge there is clear: did politics drive them out? Only the
truth will bring them back. Yes, America’s cultural decline poses a
real challenge to the New Evangelization, to be sure, but the rising
number of Hispanics in the Church and in society makes it all the more
imperative that the Church return to the eternal verities, because
the Hispanics — the vast majority of whom, like Archbishop Gomez, come
from Mexico — Hispanics bring with them a burden of unique and devastatingly
decadent cultural baggage of their own.
For the Church successfully to confront this challenge,
the past — bishops brimming with private political agendas — can scarcely
serve as prologue. In the past, Archbishop Gomez has called immigration
“the civil rights issue of our time”; for years he has traveled the
country calling on Catholics to reject a litany of sins: “anger,” “resentment,”
“hatred,” and more — all of which apparently abound in the hearts of
those opposed to amnesty for illegal aliens. All this bombast has done
is alienate millions of good Catholics who, Archbishop Gomez quietly
concedes, have a right to disagree on the amnesty issue.
For Abp. Gomez, the source of this sinful menu is Old America, specifically “the
idea that Americans are descended from only white Europeans and that our culture
is based only on the individualism, work ethic and rule of law that we inherited
from our Anglo-Protestant forebears.” In his view, our national heritage somehow
encourages “a wrong-headed notion that ‘real Americans’ are of some particular
race, class, religion or ethnic background,” he insists. It smacks of “nativism”
Archbishop Gomez in not alone. Mexico’s violent, Masonic,
corrupt, anti-Catholic oligarchy has long driven the peasantry to blame
the United States for their abject condition — Your poverty is their fault!¨
And Mexico’s Catholic bishops routinely resonate that slander, blaming
the gringos, and not the criminal cronyism of their own leftist elites,
for Mexico’s endemic poverty. A typical editorial in the newspaper
of the Catholic Archdiocese of Mexico City recently lambasted what
it called “the arrogant, xenophobic, and racist attitude of the United
States.” Like his Mexican brothers (he is from Monterrey, the capital
of Nuevo León), Archbishop Gomez condemns American “anger, resentment,
and bigotry” towards illegals — but Mexico’s political and religious
elites foment those same hateful sentiments and more in Mexico’s poor
— and then send them north across the border.
Once they arrive, the bishops of the United States are
uncharacteristically silent — even profoundly so — regarding the sins
on the Mexican side of the ledger. When the victims of the corruptos’
vile propaganda reach the U.S., no bishop greets them to set them straight.
The result? In Mexico, the poor had to game the system to survive.
Adding that sad talent to their indoctrinated, deep-seated anti-Americanism,
immigrants quickly discover that our generous welfare system virtually
invites abuse. Moreover, like the Obama Administration, our beloved
bishops virtually encourage immigrants to cash in, even lobbying Congress
constantly to up the ante. As the corruption of this system has become
increasingly evident over the years, our bishops, instead of fostering
reconciliation, have found themselves alienating the people in the
pews all the more.
No wonder they are leaving.
Archbishop Gomez has reasons for his views. He opposes assimilation because our
culture, he correctly observes, is rotten. In contrast, Mexican immigrants “will
bring a new, youthful, entrepreneurial spirit of hard work to our economy,” the
archbishop says. They “are not afraid of hard work or sacrifice [and] the vast
majority of them believe in Jesus Christ and love our Catholic Church. They share
traditional American values of faith, family and community.” So: should immigrants
try to assimilate? On the contrary: Americans should assimilate to the immigrants.
Case in point: 120 years ago, Cardinal Gibbons went all the way to Rome to force
German-speaking priests and bishops to preach in English at their (Latin) Mass.
Has even one American bishop ever barred Spanish Masses? Anywhere?
Well, as Thomas Sowell recently observed, “When you import people, you import
cultures.” Given that Archbishop Gomez and his brother bishops will not encourage
Mexicans to assimilate, it’s only fair to ask, what culture are they importing?
As a volunteer translator for law enforcement here in
the Shenandoah Valley, I constantly encounter Archbishop Gomez’s “law-abiding”
immigrants, many of whom have been here for years. They routinely use
false identification, multiple aliases, false or borrowed Social Security
numbers (a federal felony), and regularly pay drug-running “coyotes”
to bring them back into the U.S. illegally after a trip home to Mexico
for a family reunion. “Tell ’em to get their hands out of their pockets,”
the sheriff says, fearful that they are reaching for a weapon. No,
I tell him, they are unarmed — they are reaching for their wallets,
because back in Mexico every man in uniform they have ever encountered
demanded a bribe. Yet our police rarely arrest these felons: “They’ll
just let’em go at ICE [Immigration],” they complain.
I have never heard a bishop admonish Hispanics to leave behind the corrupt and
violent habits that they were forced to adopt by their tyrannical government
in order to survive in their home country. Shouldn’t they? After all, why is
every decent house in Mexico surrounded by a wall topped off with broken glass
and barbed wire? Why has Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa decided, for
the first time in Los Angeles history, to build a wall around the mayor’s mansion?
Why do illegals in the U.S. complain that they have to send back money not only
to their relatives, but to the mayor, the police chief, and the local gang leader
so their families will not be assaulted or plundered in their absence?
Yes, in dealing with the rising Hispanic tide, the Church has a steep mountain
to climb. But it doesn’t need the Sisyphean task of dragging a ball-and-chain
of left-wing agendas along with it. We have heard it said that we should bring
illegal aliens “out of the shadows.” Well, how about the moral teachings that
Cardinal Dolan says haven’t been taught for fifty years? Shouldn’t we bring them out of the shadows? For Americans, those teachings include the indispensable
truths of Humanae Vitae. For Hispanics arriving from thoroughly corrupt and abusive
cultures, they start with the Ten Commandments. “Thou shalt not steal” (e.g.,
gaming the welfare system); “Thou shalt not bear false witness” (e.g., using
false Social Security numbers). Isn’t teaching the Ten Commandments “mature,
reasoned, and compassionate,” Your Excellency?
Archbishop Gomez concedes that partisan politics divides good Catholics. Well,
the truths of the faith unite us. Perhaps our bishops could consider calling
a halt to private political agendas that divide the faithful, and encourage us
all to pray for the Cardinal Virtue of fortitude, to unite all Catholics around
the timeless teachings that we celebrate in the Year of Faith, and share in the
Maybe it’s time to bring the truth “out of the shadows.”
From Under the Rubble archives
From Under the Rubble is copyright © 2012
by Christopher Manion.
All rights reserved.
Christopher Manion, Ph.D., served as a staff director on the Senate
Foreign Relations Committee for many years. He has taught in the departments
of politics, religion, and international relations at Boston University,
the Catholic University of America, and Christendom College, and is
the director of the Campaign for Humanae Vitae, a project of the Bellarmine
Forum. He is a Knight of Malta.
Email Dr. Manion
See a complete biographical sketch.
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