1. The USCCB Pontificates.
READERS’ NOTE; This story…as all others in this blog…reflects my personal opinion and not that of any organization with which I am voluntarily affiliated—civic, charitable, political, social and religious. This is stated so as to notify any board or advisory committee members of such organizations of my independent status as a journalist and my right of free speech… in case they are contacted by the Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago urging them to silence me…as was attempted last month. For further information see U.S. Constitution’s 1st amendment written by James Madison and adopted December 15, 1791. ______________________________
Catholics across the nation were surprised to read from a global news service yesterday reported that all of them are on board opposing the just-signed Arizona immigration law because it is “draconian.” Here goes, from AFP news service, a world-wide news dissemination agency formed recently by The Washington Post and Bloomberg News:
“The U. S. Catholic Church on Tuesday condemned Arizona’s `draconian’ law, saying it would alienate immigrant communities across the United States. `This new law, although limited to the state of Arizona, could have impact throughout the nation in terms of how members of our immigrant communities are both perceived and treated,’ Bishop John Wester said in a statement issued on behalf of the U. S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).
Wester of the bishop of Salt Lake City, Utah. He was named bishop by Pope Benedict XVI in 2007. He is chairman of the USCCB’s Migration Committee. He made his statement at the USCCB headquarters in Washington, D. C.
I’m indebted for this bulletin to Blithe Spirit the brilliantly written and annotated Internet newsletter written by James Bowman, former religion editor of the old Chicago Daily News. As Bowman notes caustically: “Time was when `the Church’ was the pope and the bishops, neither of which has pontificated on the Arizona law, to use a familiar verb.”
The AFP story is riddled with inaccuracies concerning the law. It says “The law signed by Arizona’s Republican governor Jan Brewer on Friday allows police in the southwestern state that shares a border with Mexico to question and detain anyone they believe may be an illegal immigrant, even if they are not suspected of committing a crime.”
That is so maliciously untrue, it reeks of journalistic malpractice. In contrast the law “requires police officers who, in the course of a traffic stop or other law-enforcement action, come to a “reasonable suspicion” that a person is an illegal alien, verify the person’s immigration status with the federal government.”
The above language comes from the legal expert who consulted on the law as it was being written—Dr. Kris W. Kobach professor of law at the University of Missouri at Kansas City who was Attorney General John Ashcroft’s chief adviser on immigration law and border security from 2001 to 2003 in an article yesterday appearing in The New York Times.
The AFP news dispatch continues: “It would also require anyone in the state to show a document proving their legal status, like a `green card’ permanent residency document or passport.”
Dr. Kobach in The New York Times: “It is true that the Arizona law makes it a misdemeanor for an alien to carry certain documents…But since 1940 it has been a federal crime for aliens to fail to keep such registration documents with them. The Arizona law simply adds a state penalty to what was already a federal crime. Moreover, as anyone who has traveled abroad knows, other nations have similar requirements.”
AFP dispatch: “The law could lead to profiling, wrongful arrests and `the division of families—parents from children and husbands from wives,’ the statement said.
Dr. Kobach in The New York Times: “Actually, Section 2 provides that a law enforcement official `may not solely consider race, color or national origin’ in making any stops or determining immigration status. IN addition all normal 4th amendment protections against profiling will continue to apply. In fact, the Arizona law actually reduces the likelihood of race-based harassment by compelling police officers to contact the federal government as soon as is practicable when they suspect a person is an illegal alien, as opposed to letting them make arrests on their own assessment.”
AFP dispatch: “`The U. S. Catholic bishops stand in solidarity with the bishops of Arizona in opposing this draconian law’ the statement said. `We renew our call for the administration and Congress to work in a bipartisan manner to enact comprehensive immigration legislation as soon as possible.’ Homeland security chief Janet Napolitano said earlier Tuesday at a hearing of the Senate Judiciary Committee that the Justice Department was reviewing the constitutionality of the new law.”
Dr. Kobach in The New York Times: “While it is true that Washington holds primary authority in immigration, the Supreme Court since 1976 has recognized that states may enact laws to discourage illegal immigration without being pre-empted by federal law. As long as Congress hasn’t expressly forbidden the state law in question, the statute doesn’t conflict with federal law and Congress has not displaced all state laws from the field, it is permitted. That’s why Arizona’s 2007 law making it illegal to knowingly employ unauthorized aliens was sustained by the United States Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit.
“In sum, the Arizona law hardly creates a police state…And it’s very necessary: Arizona is ground zero of illegal immigration. Phoenix is the hub of human smuggling and the kidnapping capital of America with more than 240 incidents reported in 2008. It’s no surprise that Arizona’s police associations favored the bill along with 70% of Arizonans.”
Note: It has been generally asserted that the failure of the Obama administration and the Congress to enact immigration legislation has made necessary the passage of legislation by Arizona. But in fact is new federal legislation needed?
Dr. Kobach in The New York Times: “President Obama and the Beltway crowd feel these problems can be taken care of with `comprehensive immigration reform’—meaning amnesty and a few other new laws. But we already have plenty of federal immigration laws on the books and the typical illegal alien is guilty of breaking many of them. What we need is for the executive branch to enforce the laws we already have.
“Unfortunately the Obama administration has scaled back work-site enforcement and otherwise shown it does not consider immigration laws to be a high priority. Is it any wonder that the Arizona legislature, at the front line of the immigration issue, sees things differently?”
Confirming Dr. Kobach, this is what the Associated Press reported last night:
“Immigration reform has become the first of President Barack Obama’s major priorities dropped from the agenda of an election-year Congress facing voter disillusionment. The president noted that lawmakers may lack the `appetite’ to take on immigration while many of them are up for reelection and while another big legislative issue—climate change—is already on their plate.“`I don’t want us to do something just for the sake of politics that doesn’t solve the problem’ Obama told reporters Wednesday night aboard Air Force One.”
Just as the USCCB, according to un-contradicted news reports, sought to use the name of the Catholic Church officially help the Obama administration pass ObamaCare if Hyde language were included, it is now wantonly and partisanly interfering in domestic politics by issuing a statement that wraps electoral aspects of the immigration issue in the folds of social justice where in fact they do not belong.
The USCCB is in fact acting to trump much responsible philosophic and theological thought on the social justice issue by ignoring the severe threat to human life and property by loosely guarded Arizona state borders which the federal government has neglected. The Church has enough problems within itself without allowing a rudderless, body propelled for the most part by unelected and unaccountable staff to push bishops to “endorse” partisan actions under the rubric of social justice.
Many Catholics are right to feel helpless when the vehicle that purports to represent its bishops goes careening to the Left without accountability. Or does it have accountability? At the very least, Catholics on either side of the immigration issue have the right to ask these questions:
- Does the statement in fact represent the views of all the Catholic bishops? Specifically does it represent the views of the USCCB President, Francis Cardinal George of Chicago?
- The vice president of the USCCB, Gerald Kicanas of Tucson, has called for the bishops to file a lawsuit against or at the very least a legal brief supporting challenges to the Arizona law. Does this have the sanction of all the Catholic bishops and specifically the USCCB President, Francis Cardinal George?
Bishop Kicanas was the rector of Mundelein seminary after which he was promoted as auxiliary bishop of Chicago, then bishop of Tucson, Arizona, thenceforth elected as vice president of the USCCB serving under Cardinal George as USCCB president…and stands to become the next president of the USCCB.2. Fine, Let’s End Obama’s Pay.
Every so often one detects a disagreeable whiff of liberal fascism coming from Barack Obama. You recall the first episode, outside Toledo, Ohio in a 16-minute discussion with Joe Wurzelbacher (Joe the Plumber) on October 16. 2008. Here are Obama’s concluding remarks:
“I think when you spread the wealth around, it’s good for everybody.”
Oh is it now? And who would be spreading the wealth around? Obviously, the redistribution would be via the federal tax program i.e. the government. This is liberal fascism. Fascism…Mussolini’s brand in Italy…did not come from the Right but from the Left—so much so that a man I interviewed when I was teaching at the Wharton School of Finance, University of Pennsylvania, Rexford Guy Tugwell, an original Roosevelt brain-truster, went to Italy personally as undersecretary of agriculture to interview Mussolini personally on Il Duce’s views concerning agriculture but more importantly his enactment of an organism similar to what ultimately became the NRA under the New Deal.
Now we get another whiff of liberal fascism. Obama’s speech two days ago directed at Wall Street.
“…We’re not trying to push financial reform because we begrudge success that’s fairly earned. I MEAN, I DO THINK THAT AT A CERTAIN POINT YOU’VE MADE ENOUGH MONEY.”
If that isn’t a clear enunciation of fascism, I have never heard it from a president of the United States. Not Roosevelt nor Truman nor Kennedy or Johnson, Carter or Clinton. It’s frightening…especially coming from someone who is the farthest left of our presidents—remembering that fascism sprang in all its modest from the Left, not right.______________________________
*: St. Pius V [1504-1572]. This Dominican friar, bishop and Pope was one of the most important popes of the Counter-Reformation although his reign lasted only 6 years. His name was Michael Ghislieri, born at Bosco, Italy who became a Dominican at age 14 at the priory of Voghera. A brilliant theological mind, after his ordination he taught philosophy and theology for 16 years after which he held the offices of master of novices and prior. His reforming zeal led him to be named Commissary General of the Inquisition in 1551 and after service as bishop of Nepi and Sutri, became Inquisitor General and Cardinal. Ah, you say: Inquisitor General!
Let me share with you what I was taught about the Inquisition during my 4 years with Ernie. You have to cast yourself back to the Middle Ages. It was a special court appointed by the Church to discover and suppress heresy and to punish heretics.
The Roman Inquisition arose during the ravages of the anti-social Albigensian sect whose doctrines were destructive not just of faith but Christian morality—teaching that this world existed for all time and will so exist: nullifying the creation…and teaching also that the world is run by a godlike duality—one good, one evil and that because Christ died on the cross He could not have been good. This kind of nonsense swept the then known Christian world.
The power to end this heresy had to be done by force, thought the Medievalists, not just by papal condemnation. Ah but what is not understood about the Inquisition was that it existed to condemn heresy and remonstrate with the heretics to give it up. Many did but those who relapsed went out of Church control.
Church and state were one in those times, you recall—and so it was the State which exerted punishment. Obviously, as Ernie said, the human condition is such that the ecclesial authorities knew full well some of the cruelties inflicted by the state…and as such the ecclesial authorities shared the sin when punishments grew severe and cruel.
There is no doubt that Ferdinand and Isabella usurped their authority and often took it out on such Jews who had become Christian (and here many of their “conversions” were in doubt, exerted by force in many cases). But we are digressing, getting farther and farther from Pius V so we will resume. I take it, at least I pray to God, he didn’t abuse anybody but pursued a course of reason and reconciliation. Oh well…
Ghislieri had the guts to challenge the fiery Paul IV for laxity and nepotism but just when it looked as though he might pay the price, Paul died (Deo Gratias) to be succeeded by Ghislieri’s friend Pius IV who looked with great favor on his reformism. The death of Pius IV led to the election of Ghislieri as Pius V. Immediately he instituted such reforms as these: great gifts of money were always given to new pontiffs: Pius gave these funds to hospitals and charities. One thing that makes Pius a favorite of mine is that he cracked down on the lazy, incompetent and often corrupt Curia. You remember when they asked John XXIII how many worked at the Vatican and he answered: “Oh, about half!” That was the kind of guy Pius V was.
More: He reformed the Breviary and scotched many of the impractical legends that grew up about saints…He had a spanking new catechism published and spread it through the then civilized world so people could understand the Faith…He issued a papal bull that insisted that the powers of the Church not be subsumed by temporal rulers which made him very unpopular and put his life in danger…He tried to reconcile England’s Queen Elizabeth I but at the end said the hell with it and excommunicated the old girl which absolved her subjects from loyalty to her…and if you didn’t think that got the old girl mad…man! Finally he was a kind of master naval and military strategist. Opposing the penetration of the Turks into Europe, he rolled up his sleeves and participated in a military strategy with generals and admirals that led to the brilliant victory atLepanto where the fleet of papal, Spanish and Venetian ships under Don John of Austria decisively defeated the Turks—marking the high point of the papacy’s successful route of Islam.
God how we need a man like that today. Let us pray we find him—either in the papacy or in civil government.
Now the hour being 11:35 pm Thursday, enough and off to bed.