The U.S. Bishops’ Celebration of Illegal Immigration - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
The U.S. Bishops’ Celebration of Illegal Immigration

For decades, the U.S. Catholic bishops have operated like open-borders activists, hectoring Republican politicians for not supporting illegal immigration. Before the sexual abuse scandal erupted in the Church, the bishops were insufferable on this subject. After the scandal, some of them toned down their moralizing in recognition that they had lost any credibility as experts on “justice.” But now they’re back to the cocky clericalism of the 1980s, squandering their authority on a prudential political matter clearly beyond it. They routinely portray support for illegal immigration as “Catholic teaching.” But it isn’t. The Church has never officially taught that it is “unjust” for a country’s leaders to enforce immigration laws.

By praising the violation of just laws, they alienate large segments of the American population and weaken the Church’s stance on the centrality of natural law to the common good.

At best, it can be said that the exact configuration of immigration law is a matter on which Catholics can reasonably disagree. They are under no obligation to support the personal political views of the bishops on this subject. If anyone is standing on shaky ground in this debate, it is the bishops who encourage the breaking of just laws. Jesus Christ said that his followers should “render unto Caesar” what is Caesar’s — in other words, recognize legitimate authority. Securing the border and enforcing immigration law certainly fall under the just authority of the state.

Yet the bishops act like they hold the moral high ground here, casting illegal immigrants as saintly and responsible politicians as wicked. The bishops spin the nonenforcement of immigration law as a corporal work of mercy, evident in their celebration of “National Migration Week.” Under the guise of promoting Catholic teaching, the bishops are using the faithful’s money to lobby for the amnesty legislation of the Democrats. Who is spearheading this lobbying effort? None other than Bishop Mario Dorsonville, the auxiliary bishop in Washington, D.C., who housed the rapist ex-cardinal Theodore McCarrick. Before his defrocking, McCarrick used to supply a “sample homily on migration related issues” to priests that the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops made available on its website. (READ MORE from George Neumayr: The Rehabilitation of Disgraced Cardinal Roger Mahony)

Last week, the bishops unfurled their tattered “seamless garment” — the policy, popularized in the 1980s by Cardinal Joseph Bernardin, which equates support for illegal immigration and other trendy liberal causes with opposition to abortion — as they inveighed against Republican governors for transporting illegal immigrants, with their voluntary consent, to sanctuary cities.

“Several U.S. Catholic bishops slammed the actions of Republican politicians who have recently begun to send out of their states groups of women, children and men seeking refuge,” reported the Catholic News Service. “They said these politicians are falsely telling the migrants that work, food and other benefits await them if they get on planes to other locales, but instead the only thing they find on the other end of the trip is confusion. ‘To use migrants and refugees as pawns offends God, destroys society and shows how low individuals can (stoop) for personal gains,’ wrote San Antonio Archbishop Gustavo García-Siller on Twitter Sept. 18.”

As usual, these pontificating activist bishops don’t even have their facts right. The “migrants and refugees” were not captives but volunteers, most of whom were thrilled to find themselves in a posh place like Martha’s Vineyard and on the East Coast near relatives. Comparing pampered illegal immigrants to slaughtered unborn children, Bishop Thomas Tobin of Providence, Rhode Island, pompously tweeted out: “The baby in the womb, the refugee in Cape Cod – neither should be exploited for political points. Both are children of God. Both should be respected, welcomed and cared for. Can’t we as a society agree on that?”

How can anybody take the bishops seriously as long as they trade on such cheap moral equivalence? At the very least, they could acknowledge that Catholics who don’t share their enthusiasm for amnesty hold a defensible view. Instead, they defame Catholic Republican governors as opponents of “immigrants.” Few bishops are willing to bear true witness against President Joe Biden and his anti-Catholic policies, but a large number of bishops are happy to bear false witness against Republicans on immigration, treating their opposition to illegal immigration, a position long consonant with the Church’s teaching on the legitimate duties of the state, as a sin against Christian charity.

The pro-amnesty bishops are abusing their authority shamelessly. In so doing, they divide Catholics and undermine the Church’s authority where it does exist — on matters of faith and morals. The bishops’ out-of-touch “National Migration Week” is Exhibit A of the left-wing clericalism that has rendered them so ineffectual in public life.

By reducing themselves to the level of La Raza–style activists and praising the violation of just laws, they alienate large segments of the American population and weaken the Church’s stance on the centrality of natural law to the common good. Yes, an unjust law is no law, but what is unjust about America’s laws against illegal immigration? They mirror immigration laws across the world, including in the countries from which illegal immigrants leave. An American who sneaks into Mexico and breaks its immigration law is not going to receive a free plane ticket to Puerto Vallarta.

The pro-amnesty bishops have deluded themselves into seeing their virtue-signaling as virtuous. But it is not. It is just one more incitement to bad behavior. These bishops think their moral preening will rehabilitate the Church as an authoritative voice in public affairs after a period of disrepute. Who are they kidding? It can only have the opposite effect, reminding Americans that the U.S. bishops conference’s conception of “justice” is morally bankrupt.

George Neumayr
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George Neumayr, a senior editor at The American Spectator, is author most recently of The Biden Deception: Moderate, Opportunist, or the Democrats' Crypto-Socialist?
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