immigration

A Catholic Bishop Threatening Excommunication Over Immigration Policy?

Deal W. Hudson
June 20, 2018

Last week, Bishop Edward Weisenburger of Tucson called upon his fellow bishops to issue a “prophetic statement” on immigration that would support “canonical penalties for Catholics who are involved” in implementing President Trump’s immigration policy.

Why would the thought of excommunication even enter the mind of Bishop Weisenburger? Does he mean to say that any Catholic Border Patrol Agent or ICE Officers enforcing the law are “obstinately preserving in manifest grave sin”?

If so, what is the “grave sin” that meets the criterion of excommunication according to Canon 915?

The 19,500 employees of the U. S. Border Control and the 20,000 of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) have the job of enforcing the law of securing our national borders. (There are approximately 20,000 U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcements Officers. Of the 19,437 Border Agents, 16,605 are assigned to the Southwest Border.) None of these are responsible for our nation’s immigration laws or for the administrative policies of implementing them.

These are the same agents and officers who, under President Obama, deported a record 2.4 million immigrants between 2009 and 2016. Janet Murguia, the president of the National Council of La Raza called Obama the “Deporter-In-Chief.”

Where was the bishop’s outrage then, towards President Obama or the ICE and the Border Patrol employees enforcing his policies?

Bishop Weisenburger believes that these same employees, working under President Trump, are now in spiritual danger; canonical penalties are needed “for the salvation of those people’s souls.” It should be noted that Bishop Weisenburger mentioned other “border bishops” who shared his pastoral concern.

Imagine being a Border Patrol officer reading the paper at breakfast and learning you are targeted for “canonical penalties” just for doing your job. He asks himself, “Do I have to confess my occupation to my priest in confession?”

So much for the “who am I to judge” spirit expressed by Pope Francis.

The Bishops have already started preparation to deny President Trump a second term in office. I’m sure I’m not the only Catholic to think it unnecessary, even cruel, to threaten all the Catholics among the 39,500 federal employees of ICE and the Border Patrol with excommunication.

Some bishops justify their high dudgeon by arguing that asylum is a life issue, “an instrument to preserve the right life.” By using the term “asylum,” the bishops are trying to link immigration directly with escape from torture or persecution.

That argument digs the Bishop’s hole deeper. Let’s assume immigration actually has the status of a life issue. If so, where are the bishop’s public threats of excommunication toward all the Catholics in Congress who support abortion-on-demand and the funding of Planned Parenthood? (Only two of the 89 Catholic Democrats in Congress are pro-life.)

Let’s face it, the bishops have lost all credibility when it comes to abortion. Any attempt to connect the moral seriousness of abortion to immigration is a non-starter. The laity won’t buy it any more than they did in the 2016 election.

Bishop Weisenburger himself resides in a state where three of its Catholic members of Congress are rated 100 percent pro-abortion by Planned Parenthood (Tom O’Halleran, Raul Grijalva, and Ruben Gallego, all Democrats). Has he publicly stated any concern for the salvation of their souls?

What makes the situation all the more absurd is the fact that immigration is not a life issue the way abortion is a life issue. There is no single solution to the immigration problem — it’s a prudential matter allowing disagreement among Catholics regarding law and policy, including disagreements with the Bishops.

Many bishops have become dismissive of this point when it is raised. Newark’s Cardinal Tobin thinks those who call immigration a prudential matter are seeking to reduce its importance, concluding, “I don’t have a whole lot of time for people who reduce things to prudential judgment.”

What does the Cardinal think about the Catechism’s teaching on just war?

“The evaluation of these conditions for moral legitimacy belongs to the prudential judgment of those who have responsibility for the common good” (2309). Immigration policy is precisely that kind of issue. Abortion, however, is wrong “under any circumstance” (2258).

Cardinal Tobin has no time for such distinctions.

However, the crucial distinction is alive and well in the 2015 “Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship” — “Decisions about candidates and choices about public policies require clear commitment to moral principles, careful discernment and prudential judgments based on the values of our faith.”

The intention of using excommunication to force Catholics into line about immigration policy is demeaning. It won’t be viewed as an opportunity for spiritual healing but as punishment for being part of the Trump administration.

For decades, pro-life Catholics have begged the bishops to get tough with pro-abortion politicians. A few stepped up to the plate only to be scorned and isolated by their brother bishops (Bishop Gracida, Bishop Bruskewitz, and Cardinal Burke).

This level of hostility towards Trump, his staff, employees, and supporters is dividing even further an already divided Church. I’ve yet to hear a single bishop object to threats of excommunication over disagreements on immigration policy.

None of them, evidently, wants to disrupt the episcopal momentum towards the defeat of President Trump in 2020.

Read Newsmax: A Catholic Bishop Threatening Excommunication Over Immigration Policy? | Newsmax.com
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Cardinal Dolan’s Praise for Trump Interrupts USCCB Pattern of Criticism

Deal W. Hudson
April 13, 2017

Cardinal Timothy Dolan, chair of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Pro-Life Activities, has issued a statement that “welcomed the State Department’s April 4 announcement that it will withhold federal funding from the U.N. Population Fund (UNFPA) because UNFPA monies go to Chinese agencies that perform forced abortions and involuntary sterilizations.” Cardinal Dolan goes on to praise the Trump administration, but without a specific mention of President Trump who is primarily responsible for the defunding.

“This is a victory for women and children across the globe, as well as for U.S. taxpayers,” Cardinal Dolan said. “We are so grateful to the Trump administration for taking this important action to end U.S. support for UNFPA so long as it remains committed to China’s coercive abortion and sterilization programs.”

Why mention the lack of President Trump’s name? In the month of January alone, during President Trump’s first 11 days in office, the USCCB issued five public statements critical of the president, by name, on the issue of immigration: January 25January 26January 27January 30January 31. However, Cardinal Dolan did praise President Trump for restoring the Mexico City Policy:

“We applaud President Trump’s action today to restore the Mexico City Policy, which withholds taxpayer funds from foreign non-governmental organizations that promote or perform abortions overseas (often in violation of the host country’s own laws).”

In the month of February, the USCCB issued two more statements critical of President Trump or his “administration” on immigration, February 17February 23, while on February 10 praising the decision of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals for overthrowing President Trump’s Executive Order for a 90-day moratorium on issuing visas from seven nations on the Middle East.

On February 16, the USCCB issued a statement complaining, “The President has not yet signed the executive order on religious freedom.” On February 16, the USCCB praised the “Message from Modesto,” which specially called for the “disruption” of administration policies, and on February 17, the USCCB urged the “Trump administration” to “Care for Creation.”

In March the basic pattern continues: On March 6, a statement from the USCCB says President Trump’s latest Executive Order still puts vulnerable populations around the world at risk. A “pastoral reflection” on March 22, reiterates the bishop’s concern about immigration policy. And on March 29, the USCCB states, “President Donald J. Trump issued an Executive Order on March 28, 2017 that rescinds and weakens numerous environmental protections, and effectively dismantles the Clean Power Plan (CPP)…”

Press statements are always carefully worded. The avoidance of addressing the president by name, or the substitution of “administration” or “Trump administration” signifies the unwillingness of the USCCB to treat the new president fairly. The attitude seems to be: use “President Donald J. Trump” when criticizing, but avoid the same when something positive has to be officially recognized. Among all the USCCB statements, only Cardinal Dolan has given the president the respect he deserves.

Read Newsmax: Cardinal Dolan’s Praise for Trump Interrupts USCCB Pattern of Criticism | Newsmax.com
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Catholic Bishops Caught in Conflict of Interest Over Immigration

Deal W. Hudson
March 30, 2017

Since Donald Trump became president, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has released ten statements regarding immigration. Each of these statements oppose the policies of the new administration regarding travel restrictions, building a security barrier, immigration resettlement, deportation, and sanctuary cities.

However, what none of these statements disclose is this: The USASpending.gov website reveals that the USCCB received more than $91 million for resettlement programs for Syrian refugees. The average Catholic who reads about the bishops’ ardent opposition to President Trump on immigration issues is not aware of this startling conflict of interest. It’s fair to assume, also, that when the USCCB claims to help resettle “approximately 30 percent of all refugees entering the U.S. each year,” American Catholics assume their donations are funding this effort.

It might fairly be asked, does it matter whether or not the USCCB’s resettlement program is funded in part, or in full, by the federal government? Assuming the program is fully in line with the Church’s teaching on immigration, what does it matter where the money comes from as long as the job gets done? How else would over 100 Catholic dioceses in the U.S., Guam, and Puerto Rico have refugee resettlement offices?

Doesn’t the Church compromise its prophetic voice when she becomes dependent on the state for not only programs but also maintaining infrastructure? And what becomes of bold proclamations by the bishops for or against immigration and resettlement policy, when they have a vested interested in keeping those monies flowing. Finally, why aren’t Catholics made aware that when the plate is passed annually for donations to the USCCB, Catholic Charities, and CRS, they are being asked to pay a second time, assuming they are taxpayers?

Catholic Charities and Catholic Relief Services received $202,000,000 and $426,943,000 respectively in 2016. For CRS, federal monies accounted for 64.70 percent of its total annual budget, for Catholic Charities, 11 percent. In total, Catholic institutions in the United States received over $500,000,000 in federal funding in 2016. (It’s interesting to note that Planned Parenthood received nearly the same amount of government funding in 2016.)

With these amounts of money flowing through Church budgets, it’s hard to know where the Church ends and the State begins. The Obama years, by the way, added to the largess: there was a $120,000,000 increase in CRS funding during Obama’s first year in office, and the $91,000,000 paid directly to the USCCB was unprecedented.

The Catholic bishops’ latest release from March 22 is a “pastoral reflection” from the Administrative Committee of the USCCB calling upon Catholics to, “Call, write or visit your elected representative and ask them to fix our broken immigration system in a way that safeguards both our security and our humanity through a generous opportunity for legal immigration.”

But to tell the truth, the bishops have shown little or no concern for border security, which is one of the reasons Catholic voters supported Trump/Pence 52 percent to 45 percent. A common argument being used against border security is that the “first duty” of the government is not to protect its citizens but, “to welcome the foreigner out of charity and respect for the human person. Persons have the right to immigrate and thus government must accommodate this right to the greatest extent possible, especially financially blessed nation.”

This explanation of immigration policy from the Office of Migration and Public Affairs of the USCCB, to my mind and many other Catholics, describes exactly how the United States has been trying to accommodate immigrants and refugees for many years. America has been generous with its bounty, not out of duty but out of its identity as a nation of immigrants.

What the bishops fail to realize is that what they call the “second duty is to secure one’s border and enforce the law for the sake of the common good” has been ignored for too long. That’s why there are both duties, to make sure that generosity does not become a danger, or that national security does not close our open arms. It was Donald Trump, not the bishops, who recognized this imbalance and is seeking to correct it. And it was voters, especially Catholic voters, gave President Trump the mandate to “enforce the law for the sake of the common good.”

After the election, instead of reaching out to the new administration, the bishops began their barrage of press releases, but even worse, this past February twenty-four bishops signed what was called the “Message from Modesto.” This statement was nothing less than a declaration of activist war on the Trump administration. It quotes Bishop Robert McElroy of San Diego at length, calling for a grassroots strategy of “disruption” against those, “who would seek to send troops into our communities to deport the undocumented, to destroy our families.”

The Catholic Bishops should stop for a moment and reevaluate whether this is the posture they want to take against a president who doing precisely what they describe as the “second duty” of government. They also need to ask themselves whether after the $91,000,000 from the Obama administration in 2016 they retain the high moral ground to address the immigration issue.

Read Newsmax: Catholic Bishops Caught in Conflict of Interest Over Immigration | Newsmax.com
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Bishops Losing Their Moral Authority With Trump Rhetoric

Deal W. Hudson
February 6, 2017

During the 2016 election, I watched with disbelief, as all but a few Catholic bishops said nothing — in complicit silence — as Hillary Clinton, aggressively pro-abortion, ran for president. All the bishops did was attack Donald Trump on immigration and his promise to build a wall on the Mexican border.

Catholic voters repudiated the bishops’ view of the election, voting 52 to 45 percent for Trump-Pence. As an election issue, immigration was “trumped” by national security, ISIS terrorism, jobs, NAFTA, abortion, religious liberty, but most of all, by patriotism. Most Catholic voters had finally had enough of Obama’s America-bashing and saw Hillary as continuing to blame America for the world’s ills.

There was no group of leaders more shocked by the election outcome than the U.S. bishops and their primary supporters on the Catholic left, including Catholic colleges and universities, most women and men’s religious orders, liberal Catholic media, Catholic Democrats in Congress, and Soros-funded groups such as Catholics In Alliance With the Common Good.

But post-election, it appears the Catholic bishops have taken no lesson from the election results. They have virtually ignored the fact that President Trump wasted no time in keeping his pro-life promises: re-affirming the Mexico City Policy, banning the use of federal funds for abortions overseas, nominating an ostensibly pro-life judge for the open SCOTUS seat, and encouraging Congress to bring a bill defunding Planned Parenthood to his desk for signing.

Instead, the bishops continue bashing Trump, now POTUS, over immigration. As a prominent theologian and journalist Thomas Williams wrote a few days ago about Chicago Cardinal Blaise Cupich:

“Saying this is a ‘dark moment in U.S. history’ . . . undermines the moral authority of the episcopate that should know better than to issue careless statements of the sort. Catholics, and indeed all citizens, deserve better.”

Cardinal Cupich, along with San Diego Bishop, Robert McElroy, has emerged as the leaders of the Catholic Left among the bishops. It was Bishop McElroy who took the pains to point out how Catholic voters would be justified to ignore Hillary Clinton’s pro-abortion stance. Those who focus on “intrinsic evil,” he wrote are “simplistic” and “misleading.”

At the time, I missed the irony that McElroy’s column was published only days after the canonization of St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta. Given that St. Mother Teresa is considered by Americans the “most admired person” of the 20th century, Bishop McElroy’s attempt to scoff at pro-lifers not only failed but has also contributed to the bishop’s loss of moral authority.

When bishops as popular as Archbishop Chaput of Philadelphia and Cardinal Dolan of New York City continue to pound on President Trump about immigration, ignoring his pro-life achievements, just as in the election, the bishops will be the loser.

Read Newsmax: Bishops Losing Their Moral Authority With Trump Rhetoric | Newsmax.com
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Sen. Rubio Attempts to Lead on Immigration

Deal W. Hudson

Published May 14, 2013

Last week I signed, with several dozen other “conservatives,” a letter supporting the immigration legislation supported by Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida.

My decision to sign was motivated, in part, by the ridiculous attacks on Sen. Rubio, such as that of the venerable National Review, which was once the flagship of the conservative movement.

It is now apparently trying to win back an audience by replacing the mellifluous voice of Bill Buckley with the screechiness of Glen Beck wannabes. (How sad — this was the magazine my Great Aunt Lucile Morley of Austin, TX made sure was delivered to my post box for decades starting at age 15.)

Sen. Rubio’s effort is right and just on every level.

It is right politically; if the GOP loses the Hispanic vote it won’t win another national election for a century. It is right philosophically; if the United States, if “America,” stands for anything it is the willingness to receive, if not always to welcome, the immigrant (more on this later).

It is right legally; the presence of millions of undocumented immigrants – and a ridiculously porous border with Mexico – requires legislative action that will start, however slowly, to document those who deserve it and bring stability to our borders.

That Senator Rubio has become part of a bi-partisan group should not, in itself, become an invitation to mock his effort. How else can any legislation pass in a divided Congress? As we said in our letter:

“This legislation is not perfect….We are encouraged by the starting point that Senator Rubio and his Republican colleagues have gotten leading liberals in the Senate to agree to. We believe they are working in good faith to improve the bill, and we support a fair, open, and transparent legislative process. We ask that conservatives in the Senate work to improve the legislation. America needs immigration reform.”

As a Catholic, I might be accused of simply following the dictates of the U.S. Catholic bishops on this issue, who have long, and vigorously, campaigned for immigration reform. As a matter of fact, I have been a critic of their stated rationale for reform, in spite of my support for reform going back to the sulphuric debates of 2005.

The Catholic bishops have yet to explain satisfactorily how the “right” of an immigrant in search of his or her economic good completely trumps the “right” of a nation to protect its borders and citizens.

The Catholic view, as most often stated by the USCCB, may seem to some to make the immigrant’s struggle to sneak across our border some sort of heroic, spiritual exercise. This is an argument which has not helped the cause of immigration reform among many Catholic voters.

For the record, I think a thoroughly Catholic argument for immigration reform can be made without creating a briar patch of conflicting arguments about rights.

The legislation supported by Sen. Rubio does not give the Catholic bishops all they want, at least those who have controlled the public argument. But it provides a bi-partisan starting point. As we point out:

“The immigration bill being taken up in the Senate is an important starting point in the effort to improve what even those opposed to the bill agree is a failed and broken system. The bill includes triggers to insure border security and interior security before any immigrant is given permanent legal status. It includes a guest worker program that moves us toward a merit-based system.”

Senator Rubio has taken the lead in the immigration debate by doing the right thing and deciding not to care about the whining right.
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