It has been widely reported that the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops is calling on U.S. Catholic bishops and priests to turn their prayerful pulpits into political bully-pulpits this Sunday, September 8th. Patriotic American Catholics—of whom I count myself one—must think about how to respond to this indignity should they be subjected to it.
The USCCB’s immigration-mad professional bureaucrats want bishops and priests to harangue the faithful—who come to Mass to worship their God and Savior, not to be a captive audience at political pep-rallies—with stump speeches in favor of the nation-destroying Gang of Eight bill the Senate so recklessly passed and that now looms in the House.
Of course, the mass-immigration dogmatism of U.S. Catholic bishops is not the Magisterial teaching of the Roman Catholic Church on immigration and the right of countries to defend their national character.
A look at what the Church has consistently taught about nations and peoples—teachings grounded in Scripture and almost 2,000 years of tradition—must lead any honest reader to conclude that no nation is compelled as a Christian duty to throw open its borders to the point of seeing its distinctive culture and character drowned by a flood of foreign migrants.
The liberal fetish for diversity, something most of America’s Catholic bishops have adopted, is nowhere found in Holy Writ. Indeed, the dissolution of nations and their distinctive cultures into a monoculture—the end-state for Open-Borders fanatics, who see America as a “proposition nation” rather than an organic ethno-cultural entity—is exactly what we are warned against in Genesis’s story of God’s confounding the arrogance of the builders of the Tower of Babel.
No faithful Catholic is obliged to suffer in silence misguided proselytism for Amnesty and Open Borders from any priest, no matter how eminent. On the political, economic and, yes, racial issues that immigration raises, bishops and priests are not arbiters. Their pronouncements cannot bind the faithful. These are matters of prudential judgment, not of faith and morals.
A reading of the USCCB’s posted position on immigration makes that clear—it is far too incoherent and unintelligent to be an authoritative statement of Church doctrine. Others have dissected this mish-mash of fallacies and emotionalism, so I won’t belabor it here. One of its clauses, however, is particularly noteworthy as a remarkable combination of left-over ‘60s-style liberalism wedded to a peculiarly American arrogance:
Addressing Root Causes: Congress should examine the root causes of migration, such as under?development and poverty in sending countries, and seek long?term solutions. The antidote to the problem of illegal immigration is sustainable economic development in sending countries. In an ideal world, migration should be driven by choice, not necessity.
[Catholic Church's Position on Immigration Reform, The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, August 2013]
“Driven by choice” indeed—but the bishops obviously believe that the native-born who must bear the influx of immigrants should have no choice about that.
Even more divorced from reality, and smacking of Americanist hubris, is the notion that “Congress should examine the root causes of migration … and seek long-term solutions.”
So the U.S. government, at Americans’ expense, should so enrich countries that send America immigrants that the locals won’t want to leave? And how is it the duty of the U.S. Congress to examine and solve the problems of scores of other countries? Isn’t that just what America’s Founding Fathers warned their fellow-citizens against?
Lord knows (Catholic bishops should too), America has problems by the score of her own—and none will be solved by inundating America with the indigent of the Third World.
We can’t know until after this Sunday’s Masses just how enthusiastically America’s Catholic priests will respond to this call from the United States’ Catholicism Central.
I am a member of the Pastoral Council of our Catholic parish in a Northeastern town. Our pastor is quite liberal; his number two less so. Our bishop has a reputation for being very liberal. I went to the diocesan website to see if there were any announcements about pro-Amnesty events for this Sunday. To my pleased surprise, I did not see any (although there are links to pro-Amnesty articles from the USCCB web site).
Neither of our parish’s priests has said anything about special homilies or events in response to the USCCB appeal. There is nothing on our parish web site.
I take those to be good signs. I hope to worship at Mass this coming Sunday undisturbed by pro-“immigration reform” politicking.
Nevertheless, heavyweight Catholic prelates are certainly out there right on cue beating the drums for Amnesty. Just today (September 6) Timothy Cardinal Dolan, Archbishop of New York and President of the USCCB, has an overbearing column in New York’s Daily News: Immigration reform: A moral imperative. “Immigration reform” of course means the Gang of Eight’s disastrous scheme. In Dolan’s view, America must remain a “welcoming nation”; the cost to Americans doesn’t matter.
Dolan’s column is not really worth quoting. Anyone used to Open-Border propaganda could recite most of it sight unseen: America the nation of immigrants; the “undocumented” in “the shadows,” whom Dolan insists on calling our neighbors instead of more accurately describing them as trespassers; etc. Dolan even works in the “Rev. Martin Luther King.” (I’m surprised the Daily News editors let him get away without including the usually obligatory “Dr.”).
So what should a faithful and patriotic Catholic do this Sunday if the priest at Mass does insist on delivering a pro-amnesty pitch instead of a real homily?
Some suggest that congregants get up and walk out. That appealed to me at first, but I think it would backfire. The primary reason for attending Mass is to take Communion—and that happens after the homily. Should one walk out and then walk back in? Pretty awkward and not very respectful to our Lord, whose house a church is.
Also, it’s very likely one’s fellow-congregants would find such a move disrespectful—and those on our side of the issue should not be doing anything that might give offense and make the priest pitching amnesty appear the aggrieved party.
So I will not do that. Nor will I interrupt the homily—that would be a serious breach of etiquette and even more potentially alienating.
However, in our church, the priest greets the congregants individually as they leave the church after Mass—a receiving line in reverse. I believe is a nearly universal custom in American Catholic churches.
What I’ll do, should the need arise: politely yet firmly tell the priest that I disagree with the substance of a pro-Amnesty message and that I believe that the Mass is not the place for political activism.
I will not make restrictionist arguments. There won’t be time, and it would be rude to others waiting their turn to greet the celebrant. I will follow up with a letter to our bishop—in it I would state the basic restrictionist case—saying that I disagree with the message and the misuse of the Mass to propagate it. I will send a copy of that letter to the USCCB.
Catholic immigration patriots are not questioning the bishops in areas where they have legitimate authority. But we have the right and duty to protest an improper intrusion of politics into worship—and to defend our nation.
Henry McCulloch (email him) writes regularly for VDARE.COM.