In America`s Struggle for Immigration Reform, Is The Catholic Church Public Enemy #1?
October 22, 2005, 05:00 AM
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For the Roman Catholic Church, the chronicle of sexual abuse of young boys by priests keeps getting uglier. For Catholics like me who were trusting young altar boys during that period, the news is especially disheartening.

Last week's story in the New York Times, Los Angeles Files Recount Decades of Priests' Abuse, John M. Broder, [October 12, 2005] revealed that incidents of predatory child molestation date back as far as 75 years.

In many cases, as reported by Broder, the Los Angeles diocese was warned about the on-going perversions but failed to act. Instead Cardinal Roger Mahony urged the priests to seek counseling and later reassigned them to other parishes. Sadly, their behavior often continued.

The case files, said by defense attorneys to be edited of much of the most damaging material, were released in anticipation of a civil suit involving 560 accusers.

(The documents are posted here: Archdiocese of Los Angeles Assistance Ministry and here: LaClergyCase.com.)

Since the Archdiocese of Los Angeles is the nation's largest, the settlements will likely exceed any of those awarded since the sex scandals first came to light in 2002. To date, monetary awards range from $7 million paid by the Diocese of Springfield, MA. to $120 million by the Diocese of Covington, Ky.

However, these continued nauseating revelations have not shamed the Catholic Church into maintaining a lower profile.

In fact, just the opposite is true. With various amnesty and guest worker bills floating about Congress, the Catholic Church is gearing up to lead the charge for more immigration— as it always does.

When I read the Times story, the church had already been much on my mind. During a recent trip to Washington, D.C. I had an opportunity to spend some time with Dr. James C. Russell, one of America's foremost scholars on the impact of American churches on immigration policy.

Russell, who narrowly lost the Republican Congressional primary race in New York's 18th District, is the director of Christians for Immigration Reform. [e-mail him

While I was with Russell, who authored the indispensable book Breach of Faith: American Churches and the Immigration Crisis, he brought me up to date on the role the Catholic Church will play in the upcoming Congressional fight for amnesty for millions of illegal aliens.

Russell emphasized the sheer power that the Catholic Church brings to the table. Through Catholic Charities, the single largest U.S. charity that lobbies for aliens' rights, the church operates more than 1,600 local agencies. In 2002, the Catholic Charities revenue base totaled nearly $3 billion dollars.

Government grants and contracts account for 61% of all revenue. [e-mail Catholic Charities]

In addition to its massive financial muscle, Catholic Charities operates with relentless precision regarding its immigration agenda.

According to Russell, and as detailed in his book, Catholic Charities divides political issues into four advocacy levels. Not surprisingly, among the highest priority issues is pushing immigration legislation that will accomplish the following:


  • Restore 245 (i) toward family reunification.


  • Support comprehensive immigration reform.

Now, despite its current abysmally low standing in the public's eyes, the Catholic Church is ready to ratchet up its efforts to legalize illegal aliens and increase the numbers of refugees.

In what can only be described as a devious plan well outside the realm of its true mission, the Church will use its parishioners to lobby for more immigration.

As unveiled on a new website Justice for Immigrants, conceived by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Committee on Migration and the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, INC. (CLINIC), the church has officially made "comprehensive immigration reform, with special emphasis on legalization" a major public policy priority.

The "Catholic Campaign for Immigration Reform" will:

"Provide tools and information for diocesan and community-based organizing, education, and advocacy efforts."

Furthermore, the campaign:

"Encourages you to visit this site often, as we will be updating it frequently, with resource materials, action alerts, and other information we hope you find useful."

To help parishioners "to oppose harsh and restrictive immigration measures," a "parish kit" will be provided that will include:

"Hints for homilies, prayer petitions, talking points, and curriculum for adult study on the topic of immigration in light of Catholic social teachings as well as different tools to organize within your dioceses such tools will enable you to lead focused dialogue, build sustainable coalitions, and provide you with resources for working with the media."

And, making it easy to "work with the media," the Justice for Immigrants site will provide a database of newspapers and reporters.

But will the parish-based concept be the success that the Church anticipates or will it backfire?

A 2004 Pew Foundation Survey found that 80% of American Catholics favor restricting immigration…a strong indication that the church may meet heavy resistance in its recruiting efforts among parishioners.

And even the most highly-placed Catholics admit that the sex scandal has taken its toll on the church's standing among the lay population.

Earlier this week, Christian for Immigration Reform's Russell attended a Fordham University School of Law Faith and Freedom seminar recognizing the 40th anniversary of Vatican II. Russell reported back to me that Rev. J. Bryan Hehir, formerly the president of Catholic Charities and currently a professor at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government, reluctantly admitted that the scandal has seriously compromised the church's credibility as a source of moral teaching. (e-mail him.)

But despite Hehir's admission, the church will certainly press on with its insidious efforts.

Nearly 29,000 diocesan and 15,000 religious-order priests form a mighty and influential army of immigration enthusiasts.

Let's not kid ourselves. We can no longer consider the Catholic clergy as merely our spiritual advisors who have our best interests at heart.

We have to acknowledge that the cardinals, bishops and priests are daunting foes who have become leftwing, open borders radicals—as much our enemy, and America's, as the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Foundation, the League of United Latin American Citizens or the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Moral: Patriots who work for immigration sanity must beware the wolf in the clerical collar.

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.