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