As I Was Saying
"In my own jog-trot journalistic existence, I have generally tried to keep this balance, and to distribute abuse and vituperation in such elegant and well chosen proportions, that no nobody can be offended or feel that he has been left out of the fun."
G. K. Chesterton
(I criticized the Catholic hierarchy quite recently; perhaps I can find something bad to say about Presbyterians fairly soon, in order to achieve "balance". But once again, I'm not attacking Catholicism, but its Bishops.) A correspondent wishing to remain anonymous (and remember to tell us if you don't want your name and e-mail address published) writes:
I still think the reconquista stuff is easy to exaggerate, but I was looking at the L.A. Roman Catholic Archdiocese web page today and found something interesting. There's Spanish all over the place, obviously, but that's not what's most notable. In the English version of the pull-down navigation menu (top right corner), there is a listing for "Ethnic Groups Ministry". In visiting the page, you see reference to the "Asian Pacific, Native American Indians, Arab Catholics, and European groups within the Archdiocese", but not Hispanics. Likewise in the listing of "Religious Ethnic Feast Days," which lists Polish, Filipino, you name it, but no Mexican holidays, like the Feast of the Virgin of Guadalupe (St. Stephen's Day is an "Irish/Italian" holiday, while various English and Scottish are also generously included).
Why? Apparently Mexicans are not an ethnic group warranting outreach but rather the native people of L.A. (though how did the Indians turn into "ethnics"?). In other words, the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles considers itself a Mexican church which has special ministries for those out of the mainstream, such as "Europeans." This is almost comical, because despite the nominal Catholicism of most Mexicans, they are relatively indifferent to the institutions of the Church. This does appear, though, to reflect the worldview of the Church elite in L.A. that Mexicans, however recently they may have snuck across the border, are indigenous while Americans and other immigrants are guests.
It may be that the Archdiocesan office is not including the Spanish-Americans in their English-language ethnic section because they don't expect them to speak English.
The LA hierarchy is certainly committed to continued immigration. The Cardinal, Roger Mahony, Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio, and AFL-CIO President John Sweeney signed a joint letter on immigration, which proclaims that "Immigrant workers, regardless of their status, are vital participants in our economy," and calls for "the legalization of immigrant workers and their families, especially those who come to the United States fleeing oppression and destitution."
Cardinal Mahony called for an immigration amnesty last year. On the website of an immigrationist organization, you can find him complaining that Congress should correct a 1997 law that allows Nicaraguans and Cubans to apply for permanent residence, "but leaves other similarly situated but less politically popular groups without similar access."
Of course, the difference that makes the anti-communist Nicaraguans and Cubans "politically popular" is that they are friends of the United States. The "less politically popular" groups include enemies of the United States.
Our correspondent (above), asks if the Church thinks of itself as a Mexican Church, in partibus anglicanis. It's true that the diocesan history makes no mention of the change from Mexican territory to American statehood. According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, the diocese didn't get an American-born bishop until 1896, 48 years after the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. All previous bishops had been born in Spain.
Of course, the Catholic Church is meant to be an international body, on the perfectly valid principle that Christ came to save all mankind. In America, Catholics have proved themselves loyal to their nation (including, of course, loyalty to the South during the Civil War). American Catholics like Father John Courtney Murray, as First Things Editor Richard Neuhaus puts it, made "the case, finally ratified by the Church, that the kind of democratic pluralism experienced in the United States is compatible with Catholic teaching.
But in the last century clergymen of all faiths have been moving leftward (it's the "nature of the priest"), and are abandoning salvation in order to create a "preferential option for the poor," "social justice," and other happy phrases for a social system that "starts with a 'C' and ends with the fall of the Iron Curtain" as Scott Adams puts it.
For example, the Archdiocese of Los Angeles has published on its website a "Mission Statement." It does not mention "sin." But it does state that as part of the church's apostolic mission:
With Christ, we affirm the bonds that unite us. We commit ourselves to remove the barriers that divide people in the large, complex, and multicultural society of Southern California.
Looks as if, for the LA hierarchy, one of those "barriers" is the Mexican border.
June 20, 2001