Catholics First, Americans Second?

By John Zmirak Published on August 1, 2017

Archbishop Charles Chaput is often cited as the standard-bearer for American Catholic conservatives. And on many issues, he serves that role. See his fine response to La Civilta Cattolica’s oafish attack on prolifers, Protestants, Trump voters and frankly Americans. He has written and spoken well on the need to distinguish issues of basic principle, such as abortion and religious freedom, from quibbles over optimal funding levels for Medicaid. He has proven fearless in defending deeply unfashionable views.

On immigration, however, Chaput seems to follow the official U.S. bishops’ party line: de facto open borders. 

Americans First?

Chaput also says interesting things about the need to set our priorities as citizens and as Christians. A quote of his is being widely shared on social media:

This seems like a truism. When there’s a conflict between a true religious belief and an immoral government policy, any good Catholic — in fact any good Christian — should opt for his religious belief. But does that mean faithful Catholics must follow any and every policy of the Bishops Conference? It doesn’t. And it courts trouble to suggest otherwise.

Dual Loyalty?

In the 19th century, Catholics stood under suspicion of dual loyalty in Protestant America. Why? In part because of a bunch of nasty stereotypes and outright lies. Those were invented by Enlightenment philosophes. But most Protestants had swallowed them — not realizing that they’d originated with enemies of Christ.

There was a tiny seed of merit in Protestants’ suspicion of a church that rejected religious freedom in principle. American bishops defused that by eagerly embracing America’s First Amendment. The U.S. changed its citizenship oath such that Catholic immigrants had to renounce any political allegiance to foreign princes (i.e., the pope). Catholics shrugged and asked, “Sure, where do I sign?” U.S. bishops led the charge at Vatican II to press the church to clearly embrace religious liberty.

Nature’s God and Natural Law

By accepting that principle, the church made it clear how Catholics should practice politics. If it’s true that the state should not impose its religion or hobble the faith of dissenters, some other things follow:

  • We should never try to make coercive laws based purely or primarily on religious authority.
  • Nor use the government to favor our church’s institutional interests at the expense of other citizens and their churches.
  • We should make arguments over public policy based on what can be known by reason about the laws of “nature and Nature’s God.”
  • When it comes to political issues, we should not see the church as a tribal faction which claims our loyalty — and trumps our duty to our neighbors or the common good.

Nor should we pretend that there is somewhere out there an official “Catholic” political platform, which bravely cuts across left and right. That very idea is a pernicious, but sadly persistent, myth.

Our Lady of Good Fortune Casino Night

When I grew up in Queens, New York, the local Diocese of Brooklyn made up its financial deficits the old fashioned way. It ran large-scale illegal gambling. Under the cover of legal “Las Vegas Nights,” parishes all across Queens would allow high-stakes poker games, week after week. I know, because my mother (sadly, a compulsive gambler) lost tens of thousands at them over the years, nearly destroying my family.  (My dad, a hardworking letter carrier, couldn’t keep up with the debts she ran up with small-time hoodlums.) Those poker games were clearly against the law. But friendly Irish cops would not enforce that law. In fact, they sometimes volunteered to serve as free security guards outside the doors. No doubt those cops thought that they were acting as “Catholics” before “Americans.”

I think we can agree that they were wrong. So was Bishop Francis Mugavero, who let his pastors rake in (collectively) tens of millions via such shenanigans.

Sanctuary Churches?

Likewise, bishops are wrong when they promise to use Catholic church facilities to frustrate the enforcement of U.S. immigration laws. But 24 U.S. bishops did just that in their recent Message from Modesto, sponsored by the Soros-funded quasi-Marxist organization PICO.

U.S. immigration laws are not unjust. What’s more, such laws are subject to change via democratic vote. Any time that bishops as citizens want to increase U.S. immigration quotas, they’re free to call their congressmen and urge them to vote that way. They are not free to flout those laws, override those quotas, and claim that the church has the right to offer “sanctuary” to lawbreakers.

When it comes to abortion, the issue is different, because that law is clearly and without question completely unjust. Furthermore, judges snatched it out of the reach of realistic democratic change. So if bishops want to back Operation Rescue in peaceful demonstrations at abortion clinics, that seems reasonable, within limits.

But would we back bishops who went a good deal further — as far as some are going on immigration? Would we want bishops helping people to vandalize clinics? To produce phony documents that would close clinics down over trumped-up health violations? To hide pro-lifers who committed such crimes, so they couldn’t be prosecuted? At a certain point, backing a high principle doesn’t excuse aggressive attacks on law and public order. If that’s true on abortion, it certainly is on immigration.

Catholic First, American Second?

So let’s return to the question. Should U.S. Catholics see ourselves as “Catholics first, Americans second”? Yes, whenever:

  • The government attacks our religious liberty, as in the Obama administration’s efforts to make the Little Sisters of the Poor pay for abortion pills.
  • Our fellow Catholics in other countries are being persecuted, and the U.S. government is ignoring it, as in the ethnic cleansing of Christians from Iraq since 2003.
  • A law is unjust because it violates the “law of Nature” and of “Nature’s God,” such as laws permitting abortion or same-sex marriage.

It’s not true that we should act as “Catholics first” in other cases, for instance when:

  • The pope or our bishops exceed their authority on issues like climate change or immigration policy.
  • Those same authorities go way beyond their expertise to demand specific policies from our government, in the name of Catholic principles — which the church teaches it’s up to the laity, not the clergy, to implement.
  • Those leaders act or ask us to act as if Catholicism were some self-interested political tribe, rather than a world religion that claims to speak universal truth.

In other words, I wish more cops in Queens had said to pastors: “Er, no Father. I won’t work security for your illegal poker games. In fact, you’re under arrest.”

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  • Mensa Member

    I thought we got past this debate during the Kennedy administration.

  • Sorry to hear about Chaput’s border position. Not an RC, but I read one of his books on religion and politics, and it was fantastic. This is the first negative thing I’ve heard about him.

    • Eric

      Zimark misrepresented the Bishop Chaput border stance implying a open border stance , this untrue and he has said no such thing. To the contrary this is what the bishops say, I can only take them at their word….

      Bishop Wester clarified this in an interview published in Our Sunday Visitor. He stated: “Despite assertions to the contrary, the U.S. bishops do not support ‘open borders,’ but support generous, but reasonable, immigration policies that serve the common good.”

      He went on to state that the bishops’ vision for illegal aliens would be to “register them with the government, require them to pay a fine and any taxes owed, and require them to learn English and work as they wait in the back of the line for a chance for citizenship.”

      • mr. producer

        So the bishops don’t support an “open border” stance, yet not a word is mentioned of deportation of illegals for breaking our just immigration laws. LOL. Who do they think they are kidding? We’re not idiots out here. The head of the USCCB, Card. DiNardo, recently stated that he is against allowing law enforcement in Texas to assist in arresting illegals under the new laws opposing sanctuary cities. I wonder if the Cardinal would feel the same way if he had a family member raped or murdered by an illegal?

        • Eric

          Taken directly from the USCCB website faq

          Enforcement: The U.S. Catholic Bishops accept the legitimate role of the U.S. government in intercepting unauthorized migrants who attempt to travel to the United States. The Bishops also believe that by increasing lawful means for migrants to enter, live, and work in the United States, law enforcement will be better able to focus upon those who truly threaten public safety: drug and human traffickers, smugglers, and would‐be terrorists. Any enforcement measures must be targeted, proportional, and humane.

          • John Flaherty

            Officialese from FAQs is fine and dandy. The acts that individual bishops foment speak far more loudly. I have exceedingly little confidence that Our bishops, as individuals or in groups, have tremendous concern for US sovereignty. If they do, they have very odd ways of showing it.

          • Eric

            I can’t address all the Bishops views, the article singled out Bishop Chaput, and the official USCCB guidance on immigration. This is what i addressed. I find it hard to believe anyone thinks Bishop Chaput has little concern for US sovereignty. For all the good this man has done for The Catholic Church and US citizens, i find it very unsettling he is being thrown under the bus like this.

          • John Flaherty

            if you think Abp Chaput is being thrown under the bus, justly or unjustly, …welcome to life as We have lived it. Then realize that the USCCB has accomplished plenty of unsettling on its own these past decades. I believe someone else commented on how Abp Chaput has been one of the leading conservative voices in this nation, and so he has. Thankfully. We have possessed great need to determined bishops with orthodox and conservative leanings. Even so, while some of my angst with Abp Chaput might almost be better applied to other bishops, …I had a good impression of him while he led in Denver. This impression has been dimmed since he moved to Philadelphia.
            I don’t honestly know what Abp Chaput thinks about US sovereignty. Whatever he thinks pro or con though, remember that he is one of some 197 bishops or auxiliaries in the United States. Some of his brother bishops seem much less…agreeable…than he.

          • Zmirak

            This article is not an attack on Chaput. It merely raises one statement of his as an occasion for examining deeper questions. The other commenters are right that the bishops’ rhetoric offering support for US law enforcement is contradicted at EVERY turn when the US tries to enforce its laws. They act in lockstep with La Raza and the cheap labor lobby.

          • Richard W Comerford

            Mr. Eric

            Please.

            And the sanctuary Catholic parishes, schools and colleges? And the Archbishop of LA, born in Mexico, supporting sanctuary cities and States?

            God bless

            Richard W Comerford

  • Andrew

    Friday night high-stakes poker games at the ole parish hall…wow!

    As for whether we are Catholics or Americans first, well, we’re obviously Catholics first in the sense that the Catholic Church is the City of God against which the City of Man (whose lord is Satan) is always contending to destroy outwardly through history’s succession of anti-Christs, or inwardly through corrupted churchmen who follow Judas’ lead by betraying Her (the Church). We derive our salvation from Christ through the working of the Church as she spreads through natural society redeeming that society in this present time and place, and elevating its members to salvation in the next life. Christ is King, and this has very real public policy implications but our Bishops for the most part, imbued in therapeutic moral deism as they are, and following the lead of the Pope, are unable to correctly orient their efforts in the public sphere while also losing sight of the necessity to strengthen the faithful in their efforts to 1) love God with all their heart, soul, mind and strength and their neighbor as themselves, and 2) grow in holiness and virtue in this life by conforming their imperfect wills to God’s perfect will. Most of the faithful in mainstream Catholic parishes are going to hear from the pulpit this Sunday that the most important thing to do in life is to “be nice”. The now decades of “nice” Masses centered on people’s participation rather than on the sacrificial character of the Mass, and homilies that essentially focus on the quality of people’s social interactions with other people result in a Church that for the most part can’t fulfill Her God-given mission to proclaim the Gospel to all nations. This is a broad generalization, and good on Abp Chaput for trying to talk about it, but when the Church is in the place she’s at right now, does it really matter that an increasingly marginalized Bishop, based on what the Pope’s priorities are, tries to remind the faithful that we’re Catholics first?

    • Zmirak

      It’s important if he is considered the most conservative bishop in the U.S., and even he supports the bishops’ un-Catholic, self-interested position on immigration. Trying to fill the pews, briefly, that they’re otherwise emptying through tolerating heresy.

      • James

        On one side is the overwhelming majority of the US bishops, including the “most conservative bishop in the U.S.”

        On the other side is Mr. John Zmirak.

        Clearly, one side must be wrong.

        • Richard W Comerford

          Mr. James
          Re: Track Record

          “On one side is the overwhelming majority of the US bishops, including the “most conservative bishop in the U.S.””

          On the other side is the great mass of victims of predatory bishops, priests, deacons, seminarians and Church employees.

          Clearly, one side must be wrong.

          God bless

          Richard W Comerford

    • Zmirak

      Given that mass immigration will inexorably push our country toward the intolerant, pro-choice left–and Europe toward sharia–this is not an issue we can just shrug about or trade off. It’s make or break. Religious freedom, life issues, all of it, turn on this. So I won’t let my support for Chaput in intra-Catholic squabbles silence me from telling the truth about this crucial question for American citizens and Christians.

      • James

        That’s odd, because immigrants are more socially conservative and more likely to self-identify as Christian than the native born population.

        • Zmirak

          They have similar illegitimacy rates, and vote pro-abortion when they can overwhelmingly. I don’t CARE what’s in their heart of hearts. That’s God’s business. They vote for evil, so I want as few as possible.

          • James

            Not too long ago, people said the same thing about those with funny names like “Zmirak”.

          • Zmirak

            If we’d been supporting Bolshevism or Margaret Sanger, we should have been kept out. The 1926 bill which just missed keeping out my grandfather was a wide and prudent policy that helped America assimilate the vast number of immigrants it had so generously taken. The 1965 “reform” was a disaster.

          • James

            Pulling up the ladder behind you seems to be the Zmirak way.

          • Richard W Comerford

            Mr. James:

            Lowering the ladder and allowing Christians to enter the USA as part of the established working class is the only moral avenue of resolution.

            Continuing to suck in illegal aliens as part of a new servile class while ignoring the evils in their home country which forced them to become illegal aliens in the first place is an intrinsic evil.

            We can and must do better.

            God bless

            Richard W Comerford

          • James

            I am all for returning to the liberal legal immigration policies of before World War I.

          • Richard W Comerford

            Mr. James:

            The not too long ago Zmiraks were practicing Catholics who, in the main, voted for for life, family and patriotism.

            Sadly this is no longer the case for many if not most foreign nationals who enter the USA (sometimes illegally).

            And some of the foreign nationals wish to impose Sharia law on American citizens.

            And our Catholic Bishops voice not a word of concern.

            God bless

            Richard W Comerford

          • James

            How would America of 1916 known that Mr. Zmiraks was not an Austro-Hungarian agent working to undermine the country?

          • Richard W Comerford

            Mr. James:

            In WWI and WW II the USG, without due process, arrested and imprisoned U.S. Citizens because of their race, religion and politics.

            This was done without protest by the U.S. Catholic Bishops and their bureaucrats.

            Indeed the only person of note to publicly disagree with the round up of Japanese Americans and their subsequent placement in concentration camps was the infamous J. Edgar Hoover.

            And under President Wilson an intense surveillance program was set up and aimed at non-English speaking Catholic parishes members of which were described by, among others, Archbishop Ireland and Cardinal Gibbons in the NYT as not being “good Americans”. After WW I the Catholic Bishops, advised by John Courtney Murray S.J., aided USG in destroying the “Language” parishes and legalizing birth control – again advised by Father Murray (who worked closely with Planned Parenthood).

            Father Murray was, of course, one of the big shots at Vatican II.

            God bless

            Richard W Comerford

          • James

            Was it right or wrong for the Bishops to not protest this?

          • Richard W Comerford

            Mr. James:

            Protest?

            The American Bishops, having abandoned the Cristeros in Mexico, aided and abetted the atomic and conventional bombings of Germany and Japan, the legalization of artificial contraception, the destruction of non-English speaking Catholic communities, the dumbing down of the Roman Catholic faith (see Pope Leo XIII and Americanism and the Land O’ Lakes debacle), the glorification of abortion and the deification of sodomy.

            Since 1776 not a single Bishop has been martyred for the faith and only two have been arrested, one retired, at abortion protests; and their arrests wer met by silence from their brother Bishops.

            God bless

            Richard W Comerford

  • Eric

    I am a Catholic Christian, I happen to share the good Bishops views. Am I wrong because I disagree with your immigration policy? Is my position not Christian enough. I happen to think Trump is wrong on his immigration stance, I believe the government should target and prosecute the company’s hiring illegally, this in my opinion is a better approach, maybe the good Bishop agrees , maybe not. This article cause division and confusion , regardless of your views on immigration why are you suggesting Bishop Chaput is causing scandal as some people in the past. I expect better from the Stream, this in my opinion, is akin to fake news I would read on cnn.

    • Zmirak

      Go ahead and share his view. But don’t pretend it carries any weight for Catholics just because bishops share it. They have no authority to impose it.

      • Eric

        Quote from Bishop Chaput.
        “We believe that good government should welcome immigrants out of charity and respect for the human. We believe people have a right to immigrate,” he said. Chaput also said he supported priority enforcement against criminals and asserted the country’s right to an “orderly” immigration process.
        To my knowledge , unlike some others unfortunately, Bishop Chaput has not advocated breaking any laws, only to help those already here and most of all to protect families. I can only take him at his word. Comparing him to priest running illegal gambling in their parish is a bit disengenuois. While I disagree with you in this, I appreciate your response and will to continue to follow your articles. God Bless

      • Eric

        You follow yours , I’ll follow mine.

        Bishop Wester clarified this in an interview published in Our Sunday Visitor. He stated: “Despite assertions to the contrary, the U.S. bishops do not support ‘open borders,’ but support generous, but reasonable, immigration policies that serve the common good.”

        He went on to state that the bishops’ vision for illegal aliens would be to “register them with the government, require them to pay a fine and any taxes owed, and require them to learn English and work as they wait in the back of the line for a chance for citizenship.”

        No. 2241 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which states: “The more prosperous nations are obliged, to the extent they are able, to welcome the foreigner in search of the security and the means of livelihood which he cannot find in his country of origin. Public authorities should see to it that the natural right is respected that places a guest under the protection of those who receive him.”

        “Political authorities, for the sake of the common good for which they are responsible, may make the exercise of the right to immigrate subject to various juridical conditions, especially with regard to the immigrants’ duties toward their country of adoption. Immigrants are obliged to respect with gratitude the material and spiritual heritage of the country that receives them, to obey its laws and to assist in carrying civic burdens.”

        • John Flaherty

          That paragraph from the Catechism has been used for bullying people far too many times. Matters of poverty will be best resolved by insisting on each nation-state sustaining legitimate private property rights, teaching basic principles of human dignity, and teaching the Church’s actual faith. Notably, some of those nations south of Our border have been the unfortunate recipients of decades of liberation theology rubbish. Setting the stage for genuine human dignity to flower will take more decades; demanding money from the government of an alleged “rich” nation will not solve this.

          • Eric

            From the USCCB…..

            According to “Forming Consciences,” comprehensive reform “should include a temporary work program with worker protections and a path to permanent residency; family reunification policies; a broad and fair legalization program; access to legal protections, including due process and essential public programs; refuge for those fleeing persecution and exploitation; and policies to address the root causes of migration. The right and responsibility of nations to control their borders and to maintain the rule of law should be recognized” (No. 83).

          • John Flaherty

            Yes, yes, the USCCB is very good at writing documents and trying to order people around. It’s VERY good about telling us what it thinks GOVERNMENT needs to do. I notice that such word never mentions what bishops intend doing, either as individuals or as a group. They would be much more believable if they actually acted as though the US had the right to exist and sustain its own culture. They pay it fair lip service at times, but they never act like it.

          • Richard W Comerford

            Mr. Eric:

            Again.

            Please.

            Both the Mexican and American Catholic Church bureaucracies have encouraged massive illegal boarder crossings from Mexico into the USA .

            Said illegal movement of millions benefits the financial elites of both Mexico and the USA.

            The US Catholic Church bureaucracy rakes in @ $100 million in US tax payer dollars annual from the US Government to facilitate the illegal movement of uncounted people.

            But I see no corresponding efforts to administer the Sacraments.

            God bless

            Richard W Comerford

        • mr. producer

          So what part of “Immigrants are obliged ….TO OBEY ITS LAWS..” do you and these bishops not get?

          • Eric

            Never have I seen Bishop Chaput or the USCCB advocate breaking the law and encouraging immigrants to come here illegally. The question is what to do with them once they are here? To add more confusion, what of the priest in say Portland , Oregon which has sanctuary laws that are in direct opposition to federal law. Which law should they follow? If federal law then should they also turn in all marijuana users in the 8 states that have legalized it AGAINST federal law?
            This is a political quagmire and i applaud the Bishops effort to push for immigration reform.

          • mr. producer

            Eric, are you familiar with the concept of the sin of omission? In other words, when is the last time you heard a bishop publicly state it is wrong to break into our country illegally, steal our resources, overwhelm our health and education systems, and cause our legal citizens to live in fear for their lives and that of their families? NEVER.
            Sanctuary city laws are wrong because they are in violation of our just immigration laws. A country has a right to defend its borders, in fact that is one of the primary purposes of the federal government.

          • Eric

            Taken directly from the USCCB website faq

            Does the Catholic Church support illegal immigration?

            No. The Catholic Church does not support or encourage illegal immigration because 1) it is contrary to federal law and 2) it is not good either for society because of the presence of a large population living outside the legal structures or the migrant, who is subjected to abuse, exploitation, and death in the desert. Instead, the Church is advocating changing a broken law so that undocumented persons can obtain legal status in our country and enter the United States legally to work and support their families.

          • John Flaherty

            Most of these assertions about “broken law” insist that the only moral solution is to allow almost unfettered immigration or work programs. Such views refuse to admit that other solutions may work just as well and do not require badgering an entire nation on shaky moral premises.

          • Richard W Comerford

            Mr. Eric:

            Please.

            Then why is the Catholic Church allowing and encouraging the Jesuits to establish a network of “sanctuary” parishes, schools and universities in the USA and Western Europe to house and feed illegal foreign nationals?

            God bless

            Richard W Comerford

          • Eric

            I honestly was not aware of this , can you provide any documentation or direct me to article where i can read more on this please ?

          • Richard W Comerford

            Mr. Eric:

            You may visit “ignatian solidarity”.

            But you may also question AB Gomez as to why so many Catholic Pols, Bishops, priests and Church bureaucrats in California publicly call for the establishment of sanctuary parishes, schools, colleges, cites and even States.

            And then you might ask who is responsible when an illegal foreign national protected by the Roman Catholic Church in America murders or rapes and American citizen – or passes on a communicable disease to innocent Americans?

            And you may question why the Roman Catholic Bishops remain silent when gender study courses calls for the elimination and replacement of the American working class with illegal aliens.

            And kindly do not forget that the “christeros” were betrayed by both teh Mexican and American Catholic bishops.

            God bless

            Richard W Comerford

          • Richard W Comerford

            Mr. Eric:

            And where are the American Catholic Bishops efforts to provide the Sacraments to Catholics from Mexico living illegally in the USA?

            Why do the American Catholic Bishops accept vast sums of taxpayer dollars from the US government to facilitate the movement and settlement of Catholic illegal immigrants from Mexico?

            Why do Catholics in Mexico have to leave a very rich country in order to illegally enter the USA and reside here?

            Why should the heavily taxed U.S. Working Class pay for the illegal movement and re-settlement of foreign nationals in the USA ?

            Why do we see in Europe and now in the USA the Catholic Church bureaucracy supporting the replacement of native populations with foreign nationals who do not speak the native language and make little or no attempt to adopt their host country’s customs and even laws?

            God bless

            Richard W Comerford

        • Richard W Comerford

          Mr. Eric:

          Why do Catholics from Mexico have to flee their native land in the first place to find work in the USA?

          God bless

          Richard W Comerford

          • Eric

            My family sponsors a young kid in Guatemala through a Catholic Relief program. We know all to well the realities these people live in, well as much as possible without actually living there. There is a really good article that highlights part of the problem , of you google Uncovering the Emigration Policies of the Catholic Church in Mexico you will find it.
            The reasons they are leaving are many but in short they wish to find a better life which I’m sure your aware. This is why I am convinced that the USCCB , which Bishop Chaput has spoke about on several occasions , is right in their belief of creating policies that target the root of the problem as to why they are coming over to begin with. Th corruption in Mexico is huge and we all know it, we do very little about it.
            I agree with Bishop Chaput that the enforcement only policy won’t work in the long run, it must be a mix of enforcement , foreign policy targeting the countries to help stop them from coming, and enforcing the laws already on the books to the companies who hire them.
            In this political atmosphere I do not believe any of this can get accomplished. I also believe a wall is a temporary fix at best and a enforcement only policy hurts us. So where does that leave me. I feel stuck in the middle in a huge game of tug off war. Either I can build a wall or have complete open borders , I choose neither .
            God Bless

          • Richard W Comerford

            Mr. Eric:
            Re: A Better life?

            A better life for Hispanic Catholics in the post Calvinist land of contraception, abortion, divorce, euthanasia, pornography, eugenics and sodomy?

            And where are the Hispanic immigrants going to live: in South LA, Chicago, NYC or maybe even D.C.? (All sewers controlled by the Democrat Party and Catholic Arch Diocese chanceries for the past 50 to 100 years.)

            And where are the Hispanic Catholics going to go for Mass and to receive the Sacraments? (The Catholic Bishops have closed all of the old big city parishes.)

            And why are the Catholic Bishops accepting $100-million a year from the US Government to facilitate the establishment of a Hispanic under class always beholden to American elites?

            God bless

            Richard W Comerford

  • James

    You do realize that many of these immigrants are Catholic? And you are aware of how immigration policy breaks up families and sends people back to dangerous countries of origin? Or do you just not care?

    You can tell who’s in the Cafeteria when the menu changes.

    • Zmirak

      If I favored them over other immigrants because they share my religion that would be a sin against justice and patriotism. Enforcing our laws breaks up families of lawbreakers all the time–for instance when it imprisons people. Shall we stop doing that too?

      • James

        Welcome to the Cafeteria, Mr. Zmirak.

        • Chris C.

          One who is a Catholic first is well aware that the catechism teaches reciprocal duties and obligations, including the duty of those migrating to a new country to respect its laws. There is nothing in the Catholic teaching that demands that a host nation ignore violations of its laws or its borders, or forbids it from defining and enforcing the rights and duties of immigrants.

          • Eric

            As a Cathlic first what exactly are you advocating. If a suspected illegal immigrant shows up at your local parish should the priest deny him the sacraments, should the priest call a government hotline and have him deported?

            As a Catholic first can you prove your slander unlike Mr Zmirk, with all due respect , ,who accused Bishop Chaput of advocating for open borders. When has Bishop Chaput demandied a nation to ignore its laws or forbiding a nation from enforcing immigration ?

          • Chris C.

            Adherence to CCC sec. 2241, including the duty to obey the law. I’m not sure exactly what it is that you take exception to in my last post. Do you disagree, that those who would enter our nation are bound to respect its laws?
            As for the priest’s duties, they would include counseling the “suspected illegal immigrant” on his duties under 2241. If he willfully refuses to perform those duties, I’d expect him to use his judgment as to whether admission to the sacraments is appropriate. That is unless we are all free to disregard the law when we find it too inconvenient to obey.
            Mr. Zmirak of course can speak for himself but I would think it a reasonable inference anyone who makes it clear that they intend to frustrate enforcement of our immigration laws by abetting those in violation of those laws is an open borders supporter in fact if not word.

          • Eric

            No. 2241 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which states: “The more prosperous nations are obliged, to the extent they are able, to welcome the foreigner in search of the security and the means of livelihood which he cannot find in his country of origin. Public authorities should see to it that the natural right is respected that places a guest under the protection of those who receive him”

            The whole debate is over “the extant we are able”. I’m unsure why you keep quoting the next part of the ccc 2242 while disregarding 2241 and use it to imply a priest should withhold sacrements and contact customs and immigration , And suggesting that if they do act in such a manner as you advocate , the priest are somehow abetting criminal activity and support open borders.

            This debate reminds me of the Protestants who constantly attack Catholics and accuse them of worshiping saints, Catholics can say 1000 times we don’t worship Saints but because they do not understand the accusations keep coming. I guess the Bishops in the same way can say 1000 times they do not support open borders and support the right of a nations sovereignty to protect its borders and there are going to be those who can not understand and constantly accuse them of supporting open borders.

          • Chris C.

            You’ve aptly quoted but a portion of Sec. 2241 while ignoring what follows: “Political authorities, for the sake of the common good for which they are responsible, may make the exercise of the right to immigrate subject to various juridical conditions, especially with regard to the immigrants’ duties toward their country of adoption. Immigrants are obliged to respect with gratitude the material and spiritual heritage of the country that receives them, to obey its laws and to assist in carrying civic burdens.”-
            What you’ve not done, and what few Catholic leaders have done, is present a clear directive to prospective migrants of these clear duties which are limited not to the United States alone, but which extend to Christ and His Church.

            You have in my view, dishonestly implied that I have urged priests to deny the sacraments to someone. You can cite nothing in support of that. I have urged them to counsel all who come to them on matters of Catholic teaching appropriate to their unique circumstance, which if it implies anything, supports the notion that they avail themselves of the sacraments in a manner consistent with Church teaching including the making of a good confession with firm purpose of amendment, and the reception of communion worthily. It is the duty of the individual priest to determine whether or not a professing Catholic has done so. As for individuals who have broken the law of their host nation, presumably that would include reminding them of their duties as set forth in CCC sec. 2241.

            The matter of “to the extent they are able” hardly seems to be one within the particular competence of our bishops. It involves a prudential political judgement more likely to reside within the competence of faithful Catholic laity. Our nation is some seventeen trillion dollars in debt, highly indebted to numerous foreign nations, and has huge unfunded liabilities that will no doubt increase its debt sizably in the decades to come. In view of these facts, that matter of “the extent [we] are able” is at a minimum highly debatable and hardly fit for exacting doctrinal judgments, save for the provisions of the catechism which I have quoted as they do reflect Catholic doctrinal teaching without question.

            Glad to know that the bishops quoted in the article don’t support “open borders”. Unfortunately that phrase can be used in a very elastic sense to mean almost anything. When almost any proposal to enforce immigration laws including but not limited to, enhanced border enforcement, enhanced deportation efforts, and a resolute refusal to cooperate with public authorities charged with enforcing immigration laws, one can rightfully wonder exactly what this non-support of “open borders” is worth.

            Finally I can’t account for what reminds you of what or why you relate “[t]his debate” to the attack of some Protestants on points of Catholic doctrine. Since immigration policy is largely a matter of prudential judgment, and no one is advocating anything not clear supported in Catholic teaching ( see CCC sec. 2241 for details) and in contrast the Catholic teaching on the saints is a matter of doctrine, I have no idea why you’d connect the two. I think it’s a connection that exits in the confines of your head.

          • Eric

            If you were not implying the withholding of sacraments for breaking the law and entering the United States illegally, then I apologize , that is how I interpreted what you were saying. I did not attempt to make a false accusation.

            To the extant possible is exactly what’s going on . Mr Zmirak knows and has talked about this . This is not a doctrinal isssue as you suggest, Mr. Zmirak has rightly pointed out the Bishops have no authority to force this issue . This is a policy issue and we’re using the guidance of the CCC to help inform our decisions.

            The USCCB or Bishop Chaput has never endorsed a refusal to cooperate with authorities or immigration. How many times must they defend themselves. This is exactly why I made the Protestant anogly in hopes you would understand. You can choose to say the Bishops are misleading on open borders by saying the phrase is elastic , your saying they are stretching the truth, , let’s be honest that’s exactly what’s going on here , but I’ll digress..

            Bishop Wester clarified this in an interview published in Our Sunday Visitor. He stated: “Despite assertions to the contrary, the U.S. bishops do not support ‘open borders,’ but support generous, but reasonable, immigration policies that serve the common good.

            He went on to state that the bishops’ vision for illegal aliens would be to “register them with the government, require them to pay a fine and any taxes owed, and require them to learn English and work as they wait in the back of the line for a chance for citizenship.”

          • Chris C.

            Regarding the sacraments I wasn’t implying anything, only affirming the duty that all Catholics have to confess sin and receive absolution by manifesting a firm purpose of amendment, and in turn affirming the duty of priests to ensure that those who have violated the principles set forth in CCC Sec. 2241, repent of their actions. This priestly duty would include a determination not to encourage directly or indirectly by thought, word, or action, others to commit sin or to be apathetic about any sins they have committed. In view of these duties, I leave it to individual priests to determine suitability for receiving the Eucharist.

            The links in John Zmirak’s article contain plenty of documentation in support of his claims. In particular, those supporting the “Modesto Message” are by implication, urging defiance of U.S. immigration laws, at least in particular circumstances which they have failed to carefully define so as to differentiate them from circumstances warranting deportation.

            The statement you cite of Bishop Webster is indeed encouraging. Waiting in the back of the line, would include I hope, waiting behind those who have not violated our laws and in many cases have waited to years for permission to enter our country legally.

          • Richard W Comerford

            Mr. Eric:

            The problem is that Mexico is a very prosperous nation. However the prosperity is shared only by the ruling elite. And neither Mexican nor American Bishops will mention this fact.

            There is no security in the USA. This is the land of abortion, euthanasia and sodomy. Human life means little here. Mexicans are safer in Mexico.

            This is not the land of prosperity for illegal aliens. Unless one wishes to become a welfare queen. Illegal aliens provide cheap labor and fodder the corrupt school systems.

            And the burden of paying for all this falls onto the shoulders of the working class and working poor; who are already crushed by taxes.

            The Bishops cannot morally do an evil (crush teh working class) in order to acheive a dubious good (establishment of a new servile class.

            God bless

            Richard W Comerford

          • Richard W Comerford

            Mr. Eric:

            You posted in part: “If a suspected illegal immigrant shows up at your local parish should the priest deny him the sacraments”

            The Catholic Bishops have made no provision to provide the Sacraments or even preach the Good News of Jesus Christ to illegal aliens while at the same time taking about $100-million a year from FEDGOV to facilitate the entry and settlement of said illegal aliens.

            Conflict of interest with, among other things the Graet Commission.

            God bless

            Richard W Comerford

    • John Flaherty

      These insinuations of Our guilt in these matters are getting really old, James. Moral obligations that We, the People (of the US) have toward Our brethren south of Our border do not negate the obligations of the governments and peoples of these nations to themselves. Various groups within the Church could have organized any number of humanitarian relief missions to locations in Central or South American throughout the past 50 years. Instead, they have constantly leveled a guilt trip against Americans–US citizens–for not demanding such action from the US government. Do not try to thrash Us for callousness now when liberal/progressive factions have stubbornly refused to act on their own. I think such groups of people lack genuine charity more than anyone else.

    • Chris C.

      James, the nation of Mexico has a very strict policy on unlawful immigration which it does not hesitate to apply to those crossing its borders from Central America. I have never heard of any opposition from either the Mexican bishops, or anyone in the Catholic hierarchy to these practices, which suggests selective outrage and something other than pure principle may be at issue.

      • Eric

        There a really good read on The Catholic Church in Mexico immigration stances over the last 100 years. I sent a link but The Stream won’t let me post it. If you google
        Uncovering the Emigration Policies of the Catholic Church in Mexico You should be able to find it.

        • Chris C.

          Found it and read it. What about it did you find particularly pertinent? It dealt with emigration from Mexico to the U.S., not immigration of the destitute from Central America to Mexico.

    • Richard W Comerford

      Mr. James:

      Allow me to pass on some observations from Mexican Catholics on this matter.

      1. Not all immigrants are immigrants but temporary workers who wish to return to Mexico.
      2. Mexico is a very rich country controlled by a tiny all powerful elite.
      3. The Mexican elite as a matter of policy push workers north into the USA.
      4. By pushing Mexican workers into the USA the Mexican elite avoid revolution and keep power.
      5. The USA is in effect stealing Mexico’s best workers.
      6. The broken up families still visit and communicate back and forth over the boarder.
      7. The US Catholic Church bureaucracy is raking in government funding to facilitate boarder crossing.
      8. The US Catholic Church bureaucracy is making no effort to provide the Sacraments to immigrants.
      9. Mexican immigrants are converting to Protestant Bible Churches.
      10. Some immigrants are criminals, gang members, terrorists and narco-thugs.

      Catholic immigrant,s and even the US Catholic Church bureaucracy, have a serious moral obligation to abide with the laws of the USA. If said laws are unjust then change them by peaceful means.

      God bless

      Richard W Comerford

      • James

        So immigrants are both mooching off welfare and stealing our jobs. They are both both criminals and “Mexico’s best workers”.

        Got it.

        • Richard W Comerford

          mr james

          than you for your reply

          and where did i say that?

          God bless

          Richard W Comerford

        • Richard W Comerford

          Mr. James:

          I could not help but notice that you failed to reply to my inquiry. Namely: “and where did i say that?”

          So allow me to say that the criminals in this matter are the Mexican and American elites (to include the Catholic Bishops of both countries) who refuse to speak out about the very unjust conditions in Mexico which force fit, hard working young Mexican men to illegally cross the boarder and work in sub-standard condition in the USA all for the benefit of the aforementioned Mexican and American elites.

          Exploitation of workers is one of teh four sins that cry to Heaven for vengence.

          God bless

          Richard W Comerford

  • John Flaherty

    If His Excellency believes We need to be Catholics first, Americans second, he is welcome to insist that the Hispanic crowds be bothered to learn something of Irish, German, and American cultures themselves. I have seen no indication at all that Abp Chaput or any other have any intent to defend America’s right to Her own culture and existence. If anything, the bishops seem to determined to allow Hispanic culture to over-run almost anything else, THEN brand it “American”.

    • Eric

      Bishop Wester clarified this in an interview published in Our Sunday Visitor. He stated: “Despite assertions to the contrary, the U.S. bishops do not support ‘open borders,’ but support generous, but reasonable, immigration policies that serve the common good.”

      He went on to state that the bishops’ vision for illegal aliens would be to “register them with the government, require them to pay a fine and any taxes owed, and require them to learn English and work as they wait in the back of the line for a chance for citizenship.”

      • John Flaherty

        Eric, I will take the bishops at their word on these matters when they put their own butts where their mouths are professed to be. When they cease cajoling the US government for money and organize Church-sponsored humanitarian aid missions, I will begin to take them seriously. When they begin promoting ALL the Caucasian cultures and Our American culture, then I will consider them serious about human dignity.
        For the most part, they have been content to promote or tolerate a mostly progressive agenda, one which thrashes the US for failing to be a welfare state to the world. I am not interested in hearing from leaders who insistently make the Church into a mere run-of-the-mill NGO with a cutesy Catholic stamp.

    • mr. producer

      AB Gomez is the worst of these offenders, that man is openly racist against whites in this country. It’s ALL about hispanics when it comes to this guy, you’ll never hear him talk about whites that are murdered by illegal Mexicans. And now he ‘s trying to make the claim that because of Our Lady of Guadalupe, that all of the North and South Americas should be “one”. Yeah, no thanks you scandalous, sorry excuse for a bishop.

      • John Flaherty

        I’m afraid he has plenty of company. A few years ago, when EWTN covered a celebration of Mass for Our Lady of Guadalupe, though they were definitely in the United States–Los Angeles, I think–Mass was in Spanish, though this nation tends to speak English. Then again, I believe Bishop Vasa had tried connecting the founding of Spanish Missions in California with the founding of the United States. Though both certainly were/are worthy, they do not have much correlation. Not in the sense he seemed to imply, anyway.
        For the sake of fairness, I think it worth remembering that St Pope John Paul II HAD emphasized Our Lady of Guadalupe as a unifying figure when he visited a few decades ago. Trouble is, …those who promote this idea never seem to recognize the value of anything that isn’t Hispanic. They are very alike to “multiculturalists” who can’t seem to recognize cultural value in someone who isn’t black or African-American.

        • mr. producer

          Yes, I remember that about Bishop Vasa, I believe that happened during the canonization of Junipero Serra. It was always my understanding that OLG specifically appeared in what is now Mexico, because the indigenous people were cruel pagans at the time (see Mel Gibson’s movie “Apocalypto”). And in some instances, they still are — look at the rising popularity of La Santa Muerte. And we are supposed to be welcoming to that culture here in the U.S.? I agree, its multiculturalism.

          • John Flaherty

            That’s my understanding of OLG as well. I think it very sad that “multiculturalism” has come to mean anything except multi. I would not object to Hispanic cultural presentations if I saw equal vigor requested from the Church for other groups. I can’t help but remember that JP II vigorously encouraged the Polish to more fully embrace their own culture, as well as their Catholic faith. I think it would be marvelous to see and hear more from the Irish, the Germans (those are the two that my ancestors were), other European cultures, and Americans. Sadly, I have not seen this happen.

        • Chris Whittle

          Yes he does. The U.S. bishops want illegals from South America because they think they’re going to replace the white parishioners due to their historic Catholicism, but it ain’t working! 10 million quit in Brazil since Francis came on the scene and many Hispanic immigrants who are more social conservative (the non TLM ones) will become evangelicals or go to a storefront church with the sign in Spanish.

          Finally, the USA (aka “America”) was founded by the 13 Original Colonies. The Spanish and French missions were originally Mexican or Canadian.

  • Dean Bruckner

    If it is right for popes, cardinals, bishops and priests to use their authority to usurp God given government by short-circuiting the governing process, then it is right for political leaders who are not priests to conduct the Mass.

    If the latter offends you, then so should the former.

    • John Flaherty

      Your second comment would seem to declare that you believe government as we have it to have been given to us by God. I think that very difficult to reconcile with history.

      As for the actions of clergy, it seems you believe they have wrongly failed to make proper use of government effort. Care to elaborate on what you mean by this?

      I would contend that government is almost as close to necessary evil as to God-given gift. I also contend that clergy have been very prone to using government agency far too much, failing to act on their own capacity.

  • Richard W Comerford

    Mr. Z:

    THank you for addressing a difficult topic so well.

    God bless

    Richard W Comerford

    • Zmirak

      Thanks for your worthy and helpful contributions!

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