An Easter Reminder to Roger, Cardinal Mahony—Thou Shalt Not Bear False Witness
April 14, 2006, 05:00 AM
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Several years ago, when I was on the Californians for Population Stabilization staff, then-Executive Director Tom McMahon and I had many long conversations about the Roman Catholic Church.

McMahon was a former Maryknoll missionary and I, as a young man, had wanted to be a priest.

Although we had both fallen away from the church, McMahon and I agreed that it was impossible to leave Catholicism fully behind us.

So when Holy Days like Easter roll around, my thoughts inevitably return to the time when during the three-day period from Good Friday to Easter Sunday, I served as an altar boy and spent a large part of each day at church

This Easter my attention is still focused on Catholicism, albeit on an entirely different aspect of its activities.

I am dumbfounded at the church's role in encouraging lawlessness and promoting open borders.

And, specifically, Roger Cardinal Mahony, Catholic Archbishop of Los Angeles, appalls me with his promise to defy (and to push others to join him in his defiance) H.R. 4437 should it become law. [Email can be sent to mediarelations@la-archdiocese.org]

Mahony has long been an advocate of more immigration and, posturing as a civil rights crusader, an activist for, as he calls it, "justice for immigrants."

Born in Hollywood in 1936, Mahony claims that his empathy for aliens began early in his life. When he was 12, Mahony says that while working at his father's poultry plant in the San Fernando Valley, an INS raid became the foundation for his pro-immigrant lobbying.

Recalls Mahony:

"I will never forget them bursting through the doors. I was terrified by it. And I thought, these poor people; they're here making a living supporting their families. It had a very deep impact on me throughout the years." ["Cardinal Joins Fight for Undocumented Workers Rights," Washington Post, April 6, 2006]

Throughout his early to middle adult life, Mahony was always close to California's agricultural pulse. He attended the seminary in Camarillo, was ordained in the Fresno Diocese in 1962, named first Chairman of the California state Agricultural Labor Relations Board in 1975 and appointed Bishop of Stockton in 1980.

Curiously though, during Mahoney's formative years the Catholic Church—which you would assume had a powerful influence on his thinking—was an adamant pro-American worker and anti-bracero force. (The Bracero program was a guest labor scheme in which 1-2 million Mexican laborers worked temporarily in the United States. It was jointly operated by the U.S. and Mexican government and lasted from 1942 to 1964.)

In 1964, shortly after Mahony was ordained and as the bracero program was ending, because of U.S. labor union opposition, the Catholic Church began a vigorous national campaign to support American farm workers. (My source for what follows: Bracero Politics: Longest Crap Game in California's Agricultural History, by William Turner, Ramparts Magazine, September 1965, not online.)

At a labor hearing, Jesuit James L. Vizzard of the National Catholic Rural Life Conference said:

"I have no tears to waste on those who have been crying disaster at the prospect of losing the previously readily available agricultural workers from Mexico but who in the meantime have taken no realistic steps to secure an adequate and dependable U.S. labor force."

Then Vizzard took aim at the politicians:

"I can only deplore those politicians who feel they must cooperate with the growers in their continued refusal to face the demands of individual justice and the common good…Since these growers show no signs of self-reform, they need to be told emphatically and with finality that the approximation of slave-labor conditions which they have perpetuated will no longer be tolerated by this nation. They need to understand in what century and in what kind of economy and society they are living and operating."

Concluded Vizzard:

"They must be made to realize that to exploit the poverty of other nations in order to beat down and crush the poor of our own country is the grossest kind of immorality."

That was in the 1960s, remember! But Vizzard was not a lone voice in his scathing (and still valid) denunciation of the abuse by growers of agricultural workers at the expense of America's unemployed.

Supporting Vizzard were Msgr. George Higgins of the National Catholic Welfare Council, Reverend Wayne C. Hartmire, Jr. of the California Migrant Ministry of the National Council of Churches and Father Thomas McCullough, an activist Catholic priest who rallied on behalf of American farm workers.

But even putting this Catholic tradition aside, Cardinal Mahony's sixty-year-old memory of the INS raid hardly seems sufficient reason for his ultra-radical stance on giving amnesty to illegal aliens today.

Not only is Mahony endorsing breaking existing immigration laws and encouraging more illegal immigration, the Cardinal is violating one of the Ten Commandments: Thou Shalt Not Bear False Witness.

Mahony has repeatedly and knowingly lied about what the federal government proposes in new immigration legislation.

In his March 22nd New York Times op-ed titled "Called by God to Help," Mahony deceitfully wrote (and shame on the NYT for letting it pass unedited) that H.R. 4437, if enacted:

"Would subject [priests], as well as other church and humanitarian workers, to criminal penalties. Providing humanitarian assistance to those in need should not be made a crime, as the House bill decrees. As written, the proposed law is so broad that it would criminalize even minor acts of mercy like offering a meal or administering first aid."

As Mahony certainly knows, his statement is completely untrue.

Indeed, Mahony has been so consistently outrageous and inaccurate on the proposed legislation that on April 5th Chairman of the House Judiciary F. James Sensenbrenner, Jr., Chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee Peter T. King and Chairman of the House International Relations Committee Henry J. Hyde wrote an open letter to the U.S. Catholic Bishops. 

The letter (read it here) can best be summarized as a plea to stop lying about the provisions of H.R. 4437 although its formal language politely requested "a thoughtful and respectful dialogue"—something that Mahoney is not engaged in.

Here are the key points in the Sensenbrenner-King letter:

  • "Many have misconstrued the House's good-faith effort to bring human traffickers to justice as a way to criminalize humanitarian assistance efforts. The House bill does no such thing, nor did it intend to."

  • "Just as under current law, religious organizations would not have to 'card' people at soup kitchens and homeless shelters under the House bill's anti-smuggling provisions. Prosecutors would no sooner prosecute good Samaritans for 'assisting' illegal immigrants to remain in the U.S. under the House bill than they would prosecute such persons for 'encouraging' illegal immigrants to remain in the U.S. under current law, which has existed for nearly 20 years."

  • "We know many of you are concerned about the House bill's provision making illegal presence a felony. We share that concern. As you should know, during the House debate, Chairman Sensenbrenner offered an amendment to reduce the bill's penalty for illegal presence from a felony to a misdemeanor. Unfortunately, this amendment was unsuccessful, primarily because all but eight of our Democratic colleagues decided to play political games by voting to make all illegal immigrants felons. A felony penalty is neither appropriate nor workable. We remain committed to reducing this penalty and working with you to this end."

The letter closes with an offer to "work together"—which, according to a conversation I had with the House Judiciary Committee's media relations department, has not been accepted.

(Note: the provision in the House bill that illegal presence in the U.S. would be a felony has been dropped)

Mahony's cavalier attitude to the truth about H.R. 4437 should be no surprise. Although some readers will regard this as a low blow, it must be said that a similar pattern emerged during Mahony's 2004 deposition regarding the allegations of sexual abuse by priests of minors.  In his LA Weekly News article "Cardinal Untruths"  (December 16, 2004) Jeffrey Anderson reports that the Cardinal was caught in numerous lies and evasions.  Psychotherapist and former priest A.W. Richard Sipe, who witnessed the deposition, concluded of Mahony's statements

"Lawyers might call that perjury, but a lay person would say, 'My God, that's a lie.' Even if he [Mahony] had a genuine memory lapse it raises questions about his ability to lead."

And in a broader indictment, Sipe concluded that:

"You are seeing the philosophy of the Catholic hierarchy, which is, 'I only lie when I have to.'"

Yet despite Mahony's two decade involvement in the cover up and mismanagement of multiple incidents of pedophilia among his priests, the MSM treats him with kid gloves when he promotes illegal immigration.

Can you imagine the field day those same newspapers and reporters would have if a leading figure in the immigration reform movement had Mahony's track record?

Yet Mahony remains one of the leaders of the no-credibility cabal. His is a case of preaching to the choir—literally.

Here's the Easter question: Who among us is the sinner?

Is it Mahony, an anarchist, a demagogue, and a liar?

Or is it us who promote obeying the law and working for America's common good?

Joe Guzzardi [email him], an instructor in English at the Lodi Adult School, has been writing a weekly newspaper column since 1988. This column is exclusive to VDARE.COM.