The Bishops and Immigration

 

In the morning news feed I receive from catholicvote.org, I received a link to this story:

Bishop: Deny Communion to Border Agents. It’s a ‘Life Issue’.

Now, I’m no expert on immigration, but I do know a bit about the Catholic Church.

And you know what, the issue that Bishop Edward Weisburger of Tucson raised at the USCCB’s biannual meeting in Fort Lauderdale on Wednesday infuriates me. Here is some context and an account of what he said (please read the entire article — it is very good):

Is enforcing U.S. immigration law a moral evil that demands excommunication? Or would a new proposal politicize the Eucharist, strengthen organized crime, and hurt even more migrant children?

Roman Catholics must face these questions after Bishop Edward Weisburger of Tucson suggested “canonical penalties” for Border Patrol agents “involved in” separating children from their parents.

He told his brother bishops at the USCCB’s biannual meeting in Fort Lauderdale on Wednesday that he makes this suggestion “in light of the canonical penalties that are there for life issues,” raising the issue to the level of abortion-on-demand. This would make a “prophetic statement” and further “the salvation of these people’s souls,” he said.

The “canonical penalties” that the bishop references must certainly refer to canons 915 and 916 on participation in the Most Holy Eucharist of the Code of Canon Law:

Can. 915 Those who have been excommunicated or interdicted after the imposition or declaration of the penalty and others obstinately persevering in manifest grave sin are not to be admitted to holy communion.

Can. 916 A person who is conscious of grave sin is not to celebrate Mass or receive the body of the Lord without previous sacramental confession unless there is a grave reason and there is no opportunity to confess; in this case the person is to remember the obligation to make an act of perfect contrition which includes the resolution of confessing as soon as possible.

Should bishops deny the Eucharist to Catholic border agents who enforce the law? From the article:

Whatever one thinks of the current child detention policy, it certainly does not cross the threshold of immoral behavior that demands excommunication.

“Not all moral issues have the same moral weight as abortion and euthanasia,” wrote Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI (then-Cardinal Ratzinger) in the document “Worthiness to Receive.”

Even a Catholic “at odds with the Holy Father on the application of capital punishment or on the decision to wage war … would not for that reason be considered unworthy to present himself to receive Holy Communion.”

Both of these issues are better established in the Magisterium than the de novo moral orthodoxy on the best way to house illegal aliens.

Excommunicating border agents would be precisely what liberal critics accuse pro-life Catholics of doing: weaponizing the Eucharist for political ends.

After reading Paul Mirengoff and Rich Lowry, and listening to today’s podcasts by Andrew Klavan and Ben Shapiro, I think the bishops are overstepping their bounds on this issue. Take a look at the front page of the website of the Diocese of Tucson: it’s all about “migration.” Is this the most important issue in the Church today?

Bishop Weisburger, with his call for canonical penalties is raising the same issue that many orthodox, faithful Catholics raise with respect to politicians who promote abortion: deny them the Eucharist.

But there is in no way an equivalence between what the Trump administration is doing with respect to upholding the law of the land with respect to illegal immigrants and the horror that is abortion.

The bishops still don’t get it. And this starts with the Bishop of Rome, Pope Francis. He continually weighs in on matters of “migration,” yet was silent on the abortion referendum in Ireland.

Surely we can have better immigration laws and policies but for a bishop of the United States to make a stupid proposal as Bishop Weisburger did harms the moral witness of the bishops.

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There are 33 comments.

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  1. Western Chauvinist Member

    Scott Wilmot: But there is in no way an equivalence between what the Trump administration, and the Obama administration before it, is doing with respect to upholding the law of the land with respect to illegal immigrants and the horror that is abortion.

    I’m always a little suspicious when the bishops suddenly take up an issue when a Republican is doing it, but didn’t seem to notice when a Democrat did the same. Stop politicizing the faith, for Pete’s sake!

    The bishops could actually be a help in this situation. They could tell the “migrants,” — “Hey, you know it’s not really right to exploit your kids to get a foothold in the US and subject them to all the dangers (sex trafficking) of an illegal crossing. How about if you stay home and we answer the call to care for the poor and the suffering…”

     

    • #1
    • June 18, 2018, at 4:52 PM PDT
    • 19 likes
  2. PHCheese Member

    You got it all wrong Scott. What really happened is the Bishop found out all the border Patrol are Pro Life. You do know that the world is upside down don’t you?

    • #2
    • June 18, 2018, at 5:00 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  3. Freesmith Inactive

    Scott Wilmot: The bishops still don’t get it. And this starts with the Bishop of Rome, Pope Francis. He continually weights in on matters of “migration”, yet was silent on the abortion referendum in Ireland.

    I had completely missed Francis’ absence on the Irish referendum. While there may be “church-state” reasons for it, it still reeks.

    Thanks for pointing that out.

    • #3
    • June 18, 2018, at 5:30 PM PDT
    • 9 likes
  4. Doug Watt Member

    I doubt that this will go anywhere. From an article written by a Canon Lawyer:

    Indeed, when we try to apply the concept of canonical sanctions to those involved in immigration enforcement, matters get even more complicated.

    Assume, for example, that Bishop Weisenburger had a narrow and specific application in mind: that individual law enforcement officers physically separating families should be subject to canonical penalties.

    To what act would a canonical penalty be attached? Bishop Weisenburger referenced existing canonical penalties for “life issues,” but these penalties are only incurred through very specific acts: the taking of human life through abortion or homicide.

    If the act of physically removing a child from their parents on behalf of the government were to become the basis for a canonical penalty, would the penalty apply in all circumstances, or only on a case-by-case basis? If it applied to all cases, this would seem to negate the possibility that in some cases, even if rarely, the child’s welfare might clearly be otherwise at risk. If it is to be applied selectively, who would be the judge of when, and how, and what information would be used to make that judgment?

    Those establishing such a norm would need to discern whether there are legitimate circumstances in which children could be separated from their parents and carefully discern the implications of directing Catholics to disobey their legal obligations.

    Click on the link for the entire article.

     

    • #4
    • June 18, 2018, at 5:33 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  5. I Walton Member

    What’s actually going on with Catholic Bishops? Didn’t we used to look to the church to stand up to cultural fads. This isn’t even a fad, it’s a hyped up photo op for political leverage.

    • #5
    • June 18, 2018, at 6:25 PM PDT
    • 6 likes
  6. Joseph Stanko Member

    So I guess anything that affects someone’s life somehow is a “life issue” now?

    • #6
    • June 18, 2018, at 6:31 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  7. DonG Coolidge

    This is embarrassing. That any bishop would dare to put virtue signaling above virtue is horrible. This bishop needs to be re-assigned to El Salvador. It is better that he should fix up that country rather than encourage its residents to become illegal immigrants. The bishops lost a lot of moral authority, when they failed to respond adequately to the sex abuse scandal. They will not get it back promoting open borders and socialism.

    • #7
    • June 18, 2018, at 7:32 PM PDT
    • 6 likes
  8. Fake John/Jane Galt Thatcher

    It is getting so it is an embarrassment to call oneself a Catholic. Let the Bishops bring on their excommunication. That door works two ways. Since the latest Pope it has become obvious that the Church Is not the organization I have been taught it was. Maybe the Left has the right of it and the Church is as corrupt as they say.

    • #8
    • June 18, 2018, at 10:15 PM PDT
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  9. Travis McKee Inactive

    If I ran a mission board for a Protestant faith, I think I’d be visiting border agents right now. 

    • #9
    • June 19, 2018, at 1:34 AM PDT
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  10. Scott Wilmot Member
    Scott Wilmot Post author

    In looking into this more, I have found that the Vatican has a site specifically dedicated to migrants and refugees.

    The Migrants & Refugees Section is a small action-oriented Vatican office personally directed by Pope Francis. He is convinced that special attention and efforts are needed to ensure that those forced to flee are not shut out or left behind.

    The M&R Section helps the Church worldwide to support those who are forcibly displaced by conflict, natural disaster, persecution or extreme poverty; those who are making their difficult way to safety or are stuck; and those who fall victim to human trafficking.

    This short video gives an overview of the Pope’s wish to welcome, protect, promote, and integrate refugees.

    There is a 20-point action plan available that has many worthwhile suggestions.

    And finally, I find this recent statement from the Holy Father quite ironic given what is going on at the border.

    • #10
    • June 19, 2018, at 4:02 AM PDT
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  11. Old Buckeye Member

    It’s amusing to see how these bishops and the left, especially the scripture-quoting media, can conveniently forget “separation of church and state” when it suits their purposes and become outraged over it when it does not match their script. How about “render unto Caesar” which is what the border agents are doing.

    What do you want to bet we in the Catholic pews get homilies on the topic? And yet the bishops warned against speaking out against pro-abortion candidates lest the church’s tax status be called into question for straying into the political.

    Again, the left has hijacked the meaning of words: migration and immigration are not the same as illegal entry.

    • #11
    • June 19, 2018, at 6:07 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  12. Old Buckeye Member

    Then this:

    “The Catholic bishops met in Fort Lauderdale a few days ago. The dominating topic of discussion was politics, specifically, their official guide to Catholic voters, Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship.

    The Pope Francis faction, led by Cardinal Blase J. Cupich of Chicago, called for a complete rewriting of the document since it no longer represented “the new body of teaching” as taught by the present pontiff, specifically mentioning climate change, poverty, and immigration.

    Bishop Robert McElroy of San Diego went a step further saying the present document doesn’t represent “Catholic teaching as it is now.”

    These two are not the only ones who believe that in the space of five years, since Bergoglio’s 2013 election, the moral and social teaching of the Church has been so fundamentally altered Faithful Citizenship no longer speaks with the true voice of the Church. So much for an institution considered slow to change.”

    A cradle Catholic, I may be searching for a new church home. 

    • #12
    • June 19, 2018, at 6:28 AM PDT
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  13. Western Chauvinist Member

    I’ve been reading Jesus of Nazareth — yes, rather slowly during my adoration time. PBXVI writes about the meaning of the Kingdom and he says this:

    “Kingdom,” on this interpretation, is simply the name for a world governed by peace, justice, and the conservation of creation. It means no more than this. This “Kingdom” is said to be the goal of history that has to be attained. This is supposedly the real task of religions: to work together for the coming of the “Kingdom.” They are of course perfectly free to preserve their traditions [sound familiar?] and live according to their respective identities as well, but they must bring their different identities to bear on the common task of building the “Kingdom,” a world, in other words, where peace, justice, and respect for creation are the dominant values.

    This sounds good; it seems like a way of finally enabling the whole world to appropriate Jesus’ message, but without requiring missionary evangelization of other religions. It looks as if now, at long last, Jesus’ words have gained some practical content, because the establishment of the “Kingdom” has become a common task and is drawing nigh. On closer examination, though, it seems suspicious. Who is to say what justice is? What serves justice in particular situations? How do we create peace? On closer inspection, this whole project proves to be utopian dreaming without any real content, except insofar as its exponents tacitly presuppose some partisan doctrine as the content that all are required to accept. 

    But the main thing that leaps out is that God has disappeared; man is the only actor left on the stage. […] Faith and religions are now directed toward political goals. Only the organization of the world counts.

     

    • #13
    • June 19, 2018, at 6:43 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  14. Unsk Member

    I am getting more and more concerned for the Catholic Church.

    A few weeks ago at Mass, during prayers of the faithful, we were told to pray for “demonstrators for social change”. Hmmmm.

    But on Sunday last, I was down close to my old Alma Mater, the University of Southern California and wanted to go to a 5:00 o’clock mass. There were only two churches in the area. Both are very beautiful.

    The campus church is a newly constructed beautifully designed church in the Gothic style paid by for developer David Caruso probably to the tune of millions, that replaced the old mid-century church I used to go to when I was a student. However, this church that they spent so much money on, designated to serve the University that has over 10,000 students living in the area only had one mass- at 12:00 on Sunday. This is odd, because given the lives of students, even when I was a student, a 5:00 mass was the one most people went to, and to have only one at that time seems inexplicable and frankly a very half hearted attempt at serving that community.

    But alas the other church in the area had a 5:00 mass. It is the very old, very beautiful and very large Saint Vincent de Paul church, done in a very elaborate Spanish Baroque style that was paid for by the Doheny’s of Teapot Dome infamy, and is directly adjacent to the Mount St. Mary’s Doheny campus just north of USC. So I walk in. Early. All the parishioners are spanish speaking, but there is no Priest or nun to be found. So I wait. After about 15 minutes, the small choir band of guitar players start playing what sounds like Mexican party songs with clapping and other non-religious trappings. More times goes by, and about 25 minutes late the Priest finally shows up. He then embarks on the most unusual mass I have ever heard, of course all in Spanish with not even a little Latin thrown in here or there. I have been to many spanish speaking masses in the past, but they all followed the standard Catholic mass format so they were easy to follow. This wasn’t even close. Not only was this mass unintelligible to me, it seemed disrespectful. So I left early.

    Apparently our new Archbishop of Los Angeles, Jose Gomez, was born in Mexico, and prefers to serve the Latino community first and foremost. However, we still live in America, not a province of Mexico. The Church should respect and serve America and it’s people.

    I say that because, theoretically my local parish should be the Church of the Blessed Sacrament, another very old and very large church on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood, which has been sadly for many years dedicated to serving primarily the Latino community, even though there is no longer a latino community anywhere close to it.

    • #14
    • June 19, 2018, at 8:59 AM PDT
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  15. Scott Wilmot Member
    Scott Wilmot Post author

    Unsk (View Comment):

    I am getting more and more concerned for the Catholic Church.

    Wow, what a sad and depressing story.

    The Church does seem to have lost it’s way in many places around the world.

    Perhaps instead of focusing on so-called social justice issues or catering to specific ethnic groups the wayward Church should focus on giving glory to God through right worship. I think the rest would then sort itself out. As I like to say, Save the Liturgy, Save the World.

    • #15
    • June 19, 2018, at 9:21 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  16. Joseph Stanko Member

    Old Buckeye (View Comment):

    A cradle Catholic, I may be searching for a new church home. 

    You must do what you think is right. For me, the Catholic Church is the body of Christ and the place where I receive the sacraments. No amount of political foolishness from the bishops would make me even consider leaving.

     

    • #16
    • June 19, 2018, at 11:33 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  17. Full Size Tabby Member

    My former denomination (Presbyterian Church (USA)) is currently holding its biennial (every 2 years) General Assembly. Many of the resolutions on the agenda are directed to current domestic political controversies, including the enforcement of immigration laws.

    A problem with so much high level church focus on the political issue of the moment is that the church loses contact with its eternal objectives. And by declaring as mortal sins what many see as policy disagreements on debatable issues, the church is undermining its long term prospects for bringing people into an eternal relationship with our Creator.

    [The PC(USA) is also not helping any interest they might have in bringing me back into the denomination by referring to current immigration laws as “racist.” I can only presume they don’t care if I ever come back. I am looking for another portion of the body of Christ with which to worship, but I fear that many who are driven away from the church by politics will give up participating in a church at all.]

    • #17
    • June 19, 2018, at 12:13 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  18. Stad Thatcher

    Scott Wilmot: Surely we can have better immigration laws and policies but for a bishop of the United States to make a stupid proposal as Bishop Weisburger did harms the moral witness of the bishops.

    I have a great deal of respect for the Catholic Church, but I cringe whenever I read about the leftist antics their nuns and clergy do and say. Is there not some point where even a stout believer such as @josephstanko will say “This is too much, I have to go elsewhere”?

    Some Protestant denominations have lost many members because of liberal foolishness by its leaders, and I think the Catholic Church is on the verge of an exodus it doesn’t expect . . .

    • #18
    • June 19, 2018, at 12:34 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  19. Old Buckeye Member

    Joseph Stanko (View Comment):
    No amount of political foolishness from the bishops would make me even consider leaving.

    Joseph, it’s close to the last straw for me. It’s this latest foolishness on top of all the other baloney that is fryin’ my fritters. When the Mass and the sacraments become an afterthought, or worse, are wielded as a political weapon, when political correctness allows for subversion and pretzel logic of the Magisterium and the catechism, is it still Catholicism? 

    • #19
    • June 19, 2018, at 12:37 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  20. Scott Wilmot Member
    Scott Wilmot Post author

    Stad (View Comment):
    Is there not some point where even a stout believer such as @josephstanko will say “This is too much, I have to go elsewhere”?

    Well, Joseph said it well in comment #16. The Church has survived worse and is THE Church of Christ. As Peter said, to whom shall we go?

    As you note, where liberal bishops and policies prevail, the Church is in decline and there is a great exodus – just look at Germany. Where the Church remains orthodox, the Church is on the rise. It isn’t rocket science, but as I said, the bishops don’t get it.

    • #20
    • June 19, 2018, at 1:26 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  21. DonG Coolidge

    After thinking on this I am more annoyed. The Church is failing to help people in the source countries of these illegal immigrants. They should explain that people should use a legal asylum process. They should challenge the men to stay and fix their country. When governments fail, The Church needs to step up. I don’t see it.

    • #21
    • June 19, 2018, at 1:33 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  22. JoelB Member

    I am not a Catholic, so I don’t want to throw stones, but I do agree with the statement a Protestant pastor friend used to say: “The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.”

    • #22
    • June 19, 2018, at 1:51 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  23. Stad Thatcher

    DonG (View Comment):
    They should challenge the men to stay and fix their country. When governments fail, The Church needs to step up. I don’t see it.

    This is important. The US is not a lifeboat for all the suffering people of the world. The Statue of Liberty is not showing every oppressed person the door to which they must pass through. Instead, Lady Liberty is showing the way to freedom – not by escaping to our country, but by what they have to do to change their own.

    Our forefathers, and millions of citizens since, have shed their blood to keep our country safe, and to show the world what can happen if they adopt our principles. The Church (Catholic and Protestant) can go a long way to making this happen, as long as they abandon leftist positions and return to their roots.

    • #23
    • June 19, 2018, at 2:01 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  24. Western Chauvinist Member

    Just as soon as there’s a church with apostolic succession going back to Peter and remaining faithful to the Deposit of Faith regarding faith and morals for 2,000 years, I’m switching. Until then, not so much. These heterodox bishops et al will just have to put up with me.

    We are the Church — not Blase Cupich and company. I hope our orthodox bishops find the courage to push back.

    • #24
    • June 19, 2018, at 2:07 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  25. Joseph Stanko Member

    Stad (View Comment):
    I have a great deal of respect for the Catholic Church, but I cringe whenever I read about the leftist antics their nuns and clergy do and say. Is there not some point where even a stout believer such as @josephstanko will say “This is too much, I have to go elsewhere”?

    The Church is like my big extended family, and leftist clergy are like that relative at Thanksgiving who drives you nuts when he won’t shut up about politics. Sure it gets annoying at times, but at the end of the day, what can you do about it? He’s part of the family.

    • #25
    • June 19, 2018, at 2:07 PM PDT
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  26. Joseph Stanko Member

    Old Buckeye (View Comment):
    When the Mass and the sacraments become an afterthought, or worse, are wielded as a political weapon

    Has that actually happened? I though this was just one bishop floating a bad idea, not an official policy adopted by the USCCB.

    • #26
    • June 19, 2018, at 2:11 PM PDT
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  27. Scott Wilmot Member
    Scott Wilmot Post author

    Joseph Stanko (View Comment):

    Old Buckeye (View Comment):
    When the Mass and the sacraments become an afterthought, or worse, are wielded as a political weapon

    Has that actually happened? I though this was just one bishop floating a bad idea, not an official policy adopted by the USCCB.

    There was much talk of denying Holy Communion to Catholic politicians in the 2004 Presidential election (Bush-Kerry). That was part of the reason why Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, Prefect of the CDF, issued the document “Worthiness to Receive” (linked to in the OP). As I recall, Cardinal Ratzinger sent it to Cardinal Theodore McCarrick of DC, who sat on it and would not release it until he was pressured to release it to the bishops.

    • #27
    • June 19, 2018, at 2:51 PM PDT
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  28. The Cloaked Gaijin Member

    Extremists on the Left and Right do not seem to believe in boundaries or earthly government laws as they believe that true righteousness lies upon a path of choosing to tear down such restrictions. 

    They also may see money, fame, adulation, or an inward calling in choosing such a controversial path.

    • #28
    • June 19, 2018, at 3:43 PM PDT
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  29. Old Buckeye Member

    Western Chauvinist (View Comment):

    Just as soon as there’s a church with apostolic succession going back to Peter and remaining faithful to the Deposit of Faith regarding faith and morals for 2,000 years, I’m switching. Until then, not so much. These heterodox bishops et al will just have to put up with me.

    We are the Church — not Blase Cupich and company. I hope our orthodox bishops find the courage to push back.

    So true! You and Joseph and Scott are obviously stauncher in your faith than I. Y’all may have talked me off the ledge…for now.

    • #29
    • June 19, 2018, at 3:58 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  30. John Seymour Inactive

    Scott,

    I thought you might appreciate this from the April issue of First Things:

    Prayer for the Tranquility of a Pope:

    Almighty and Everlasting Father, Forasmuch as Thou hast established Thy Holy Church upon the Rock that is Peter, Grant to Thy humble servant n.______, Successor of the Prince of the Apostles, a spirit of reserve both in what is said in speech and wrought in words, vouchsafing the silent witness of the saints. Grant to him peace and courage to rejoice in solitude, thus securing tranquility of thought and temperance of expression, both on the earth and in the air. And amidst the sundry and manifold tumults of our age, may he be strengthened in living the Gospel without words. We ask this through Christ the Living Word. Amen.

    • #30
    • June 20, 2018, at 6:32 AM PDT
    • 5 likes
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