"`We cannot go on simply ignoring and tolerating the plight of our brothers and sisters,` Cardinal Egan said. `Families are being damaged by cruel separation and in all too many instances shameful advantage is being taken of men and women in the work force who do not have proper papers.` " [Immigrants Rally in City, Seeking Rights by Steven Greenhouse. New York Times, October 5, 2003]Your Eminence:I am a faithful Roman Catholic, loyal to the Magisterium and the doctrines of our Church. I am also an American whose family on both sides has been here since Colonial times.With great sadness, I must express my disagreement with, and indeed disgust at, your singularly ill-chosen remarks at the mendaciously-misnamed "Immigrant Workers Freedom Ride" rally this past Saturday at Flushing Meadows Park.The rally you shamefully dignified with your presence was, in truth, an enormous gathering of people in criminal violation of the immigration laws of the United States—and of those who, for political or business reasons, support the continued importation of these illegal aliens.By addressing this mob in Spanish (a language I speak fluently and greatly admire; nevertheless the American vernacular is English) you contribute to the multicultural balkanizing that is fracturing our country.By endorsing the claim that illegal aliens are what they are not—immigrants—you both insult legitimate immigrants and undermine the democratically enacted laws of your own country.You encourage illegal aliens to break American law; next will you be exhorting New York`s Catholics to stop paying their taxes?The organizers of this celebration of criminality try to draw an analogy with the Freedom Rides of the 1960s. This comparison is not merely strained, it is utterly false. The Freedom Riders of the 1960s were Americans seeking the equal protection of American law. Today`s bogus "Freedom Riders" are not. They are criminal interlopers, rudely demanding that laws they are breaking—our laws—be ignored for their convenience.Were the situation reversed, were a group of Americans in Mexico loudly demanding that Mexico`s (very strict) immigration laws be set aside so they could squat there, your voice would no doubt be loud among those denouncing their Yanqui imperialism.The illegal alien marchers should have been met at Flushing Meadows not by a prince of the Church, but by the Border Patrol.All that American law should guarantee illegal aliens is humane treatment as they are removed expeditiously from our country.You are a prince of the Church, a preacher of our Lord`s Gospel and a minister of His Sacraments. As such, I appreciate your concern for the "plight of our brothers and sisters." But your solicitude in this case is largely misplaced. The brothers and sisters to whom you referred are criminals. The "cruel separations" to which you alluded occur only because illegal aliens choose to leave their homes and families to break into the United States.To hint, as you did, that these separations are somehow caused by heartless Americans is not merely disingenuous, it is—again—insulting. Those cruel separations can end as soon as illegal aliens return to their own countries.As New York`s Archbishop, your primary duty is to your flock, the Roman Catholics of your Archdiocese.Has it not occurred to you that many of the illegal aliens whose presence here you so thoughtlessly celebrate are putting many of New York`s Catholics out of work?That their presence here, their demands on our schools and hospitals, expenses to which most illegal aliens do not contribute through taxes, erode the living standards of your Catholic flock, both native-born and legally-immigrated?As with most of the country, Roman Catholicism is in a crisis in New York. Mass attendance has plunged. The practice of regular Confession has practically vanished.You may suppose that by importing millions of nominal Catholics you will retain the Church`s power base, and perhaps even "re-evangelize" American Catholics.That is a mirage. I humbly suggest that you study the history of the Church in Mexico since that country`s independence, to give only the most important example, to determine how unlikely it is that mass immigration from there might revitalize American Catholicism.Of course, I am not asking that the Church turn its back on illegal aliens. But I do ask only that you, and the Church, not violate the Church`s own history and teachings by openly advocating the breaking of legitimately-enacted civil and criminal laws.Devoutly though you might wish it, everyone in the world cannot move to the United States.Firmly though you might deny it, Americans have the right to live in their own country with as many, or as few, immigrants as they choose.Your Eminence, please concentrate your efforts on ministering to your American flock. Instead of betraying them for the politically-correct pottage of illegal alien amnesties, stand firm on the Church`s teaching about law and the legitimacy of the national community.Personally, I long for the day when you, or any bishop of this state, will hold an elected official who calls himself Catholic accountable for flouting the Church`s authoritative teaching in the matter of abortion. You might start with our own Governor Pataki.When you do that, and when you cease to abet the violation of law that coddling illegal aliens is, you will regain my respect.As matters stand, I must say with great regret that you have lost it.Yours in sorrow,Howard Ramsey Sutherland The writer is an attorney in New York. To contact the Archdiocese of New York, click here.