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May 15, 2006

Comments

Rich Leonardi

We had active, faithful parishioners stand up and walk out of mass yesterday. This is going to be very divisive. I sure wouldn't want to be answering the phone in Cardinal Mahony's office this week!

Perhaps the office would be better served by routing calls to the seminary. The director of admissions seems adept at handling "complicated" matters like this.

Caroline

Were any unsigned cards handed back? Did cards just diappear into pockets or purses? Any way of knowing how many were returned signed with real names?

Were the cards bilingual? In SF we would need them in four to five languages.

It was certainly the wrong time and place to do this.

Was it done in all of Mahoney's parishes? I wonder if it will spread to other dioceses.

Chris S.

Rich, that bring up a question I meant to ask Jimmy Akin last week, but never got around to it. Perhaps I'll do it later this afternoon.

Q: Is it permissible to get up and walk out of Mass if something truly horrifying is going on, provided that you attend another one later (on a Sunday)?

I came VERY close to doing this at an Indult Tridentine Mass about a half year ago, when the old priest saying the Indult Mass called the current Vatican leadership "diabolic" during his homily. I stayed, but man was I fuming. It was on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, and there was another new rite Mass about an hour later.

Susan Peterson

Rich's link threatens to derail this thread before it even gets started. Let's NOT talk about homosexuals in the priesthood in this set of comments, please, as it is not what the article is about. Just my opinion, but I think we should talk about 1. what should and shouldn't be done at mass, and 2. immigration. I can see that we might go so far as to talk about hypocrisy and a double standard (different for 'left' political issues from that for 'right' political issues.)

And that's the point. I find myself, actually, agreeing with the wording of the letter the parishioners were asked to sign. But even before I got to the report of the writer, I knew they weren't doing this in mass for anything about abortion! And of course, plenty of good Catholics might totally disagree with me about these immigration issues. They shouldn't be put on the spot during mass over an issue on which good Catholics might disagree.

But then, during the first Gulf war I stood up and argued with a priest who was giving an antiwar "this is just about oil" sermon. I really resent having political issues on which Catholics can reasonably disagree, pushed during mass.

Susan Peterson

WRY

Two thoughts:
1. What parishioners are being asked to sign is substantially identical with what the US bishops have said about immigration. I don't see a big problem about asking people to sign it.
2. The fact that other causes have not been passed around the pew doesn't make this one invalid.

Rich Leonardi

Susan,

There's a certain context in which things take place in that diocese. Hence, Amy's reference to "Another coming storm ..." The trains on the L.A. line were derailed long before I posted the link.

JP

I agree with Susan.

The fact that politcs is injected into The Mass is worrisome. It would have been just as bad, if the card asked Mass attendees to support the president on issue A or B. The Mass is one of the few moments during the week when we approach our Lord unified as Christians. To inject such a controversal subject into the homily takes things way too far. What ever happened to the idea of Christian Unity? It is just cheap talk.

Rich Leonardi

And Susan, your last paragraph is spot-on.

Daniel H. Conway

"The Mass is one of the few moments during the week when we approach our Lord unified as Christians."

Very difficult if there is a claim that someone writing this writes a "balanced" blog entry:

"Of course we are. We actually believe in something."

Let this jihad rage on.

Patrick Rothwell

The way the postcard campaign was handled in that parish was outrageously coercive. I think I would refuse to fill out the postcard simply because I was pressured to do so.

Marc

Very sad. As has been pointed out, this is an issue on which faithful Catholics can disagree about how to solve this problem.

Given that, why not give a homily that teaches the faithful how the teachings of the Church apply to this issue (virtue of hospitality, legitimate desire to protect family/income, etc, solidarity with poor, etc). And then, stand back and let the people use that knoweldge to act. Is all the talk among "progressives" about "empowering the laity" earnest or not?

c matt

2. The fact that other causes have not been passed around the pew doesn't make this one invalid.

True. But the fact that they do this over immigration, but not abortion, speaks volumes about where the Bp stands morally and politically, and makes it that much more difficult to take him seriously.

I really resent having political issues on which Catholics can reasonably disagree, pushed during mass.

The fact that politcs is injected into The Mass is worrisome.

So which is it? Do we want homilies that incorporate the faith and how to apply it to the burning issues of the day, or do we want happy talk and the hymn from St. Barney ("I love you, you love me...")?

Handing out signature cards during the homily crosses the line, but stating the case for it and directing parishoners to action seems perfectly acceptable (just wish they would give pro-life issues one tenth the attention they give to other issues). Is our faith something hermetically sealed off from the world, or do we have Truths that clash with political events that we need to confront (and need guidance on)? So much for being salt - as long as we remain in the shaker.

Susan Peterson

I don't understand Mr. Conway's comment at all.

Rich....I know there is a larger context and that it is applicable to this situation. But the particular issue you brought up is one on which feelings run deep and strong and discussion of it, I thought, could prevent discussion of anything else.

Susan

Will Barrett

Q: Is it permissible to get up and walk out of Mass if something truly horrifying is going on, provided that you attend another one later (on a Sunday)?

I would say it is permissible and that you don't even necessarily need to go find another Mass. Seems to me that you made a good faith effort to fulfill your Sunday obligation. If attempting to fulfill it is a near occasion of sin, then I would say leave and realize that it wasn't for want of trying.

Now that being said, I think rather than thinking of getting to another Mass out of obligation, I would do it out of desire to meet Christ without the distraction that caused you to leave the other Mass.

midwestmom

First reaction? Report Mahoney to the IRS. Reasonable reaction? Let it go for now, but remind everyone of this the next time you want to put pro-life voters' guides on the cars in your church parking lot and your bishop/priest cries about losing the precious tax-exempt status.

In my parish yesterday, the KC's were in the vestibule handing out pre-printed postcards to folks to send to their senators about same sex "marriage" legislation. I'd bet money they didn't even ask our priest's permission.

I recently heard the bishops' spokesman, Mr. Leo Anchondo, present the bishops' proposal for immigration reform(www.justiceforimmigrants.org) and was definitely left with the impression that the U.S. is the "bad guy."

Dean

If the Presider or others are getting you upset/distrubing you from raising your heart to the Lord, to join with the angels, then they have done the devils bidding. Better to seek more holy grounds.

The L.A. Church should have left those cards in the back of the Church for the interested people.

midwestmom

"So much for being salt - as long as we remain in the shaker."

LOL! I like that!

Susan Peterson

I always ask myself the question, what if this were civil rights days?

A homily saying that negroes (the term in use then) are our brothers in Christ and that we ought to treat them as such, and that they deserve every human and civil right that we have, would have been the proper application of the Gospel to the issues of the day.

Passing around cards urging legislators to vote for, say, the act which made it illegal to refuse to serve a negro, or one which made it illegal to refuse to rent to one, would not have been appropriate. Some people believed that these laws unconstitionally violated people's property rights or their right to freedom of association. ( I think Sam ....what was his name...he was so incisive and impressive at the Watergate hearings...jog my memory, someone... had been of this opinion.)
This was a legitimate constitutional opinion.

A sermon should have said that people ought not to refuse to serve or rent to negroes...that it was morally wrong to so refuse...but it should not have required people to have a certain opinion on the constitutional questions, or to sign cards about it...and certainly not during mass.

Does this make the distinction clear, between what is proper application of the gospel to the issues of the day, and what is illegitimate use of the pulpit and of the requirement that people be at mass?

Susan Peterson

decker2003

In my parish in the LA Archdiocese, the presider simply included in the announcements that the Parish Social Justice Committee would be outside church collecting signatures on letters to our elected representatives asking them to pass "fair and just immigration reform." He then added that the Archbishop had asked all the faithful to add their signatures to the letter. This would seem to be exactly the approach the original post suggests should have been used.

I think we need to find out exactly what instructions were given to the parishes in the archdiocese.

WRY

c matt makes a good point: Are we scared of actually hearing what our church teaches just because it is controversial?
Liberals want the church to be liberal. Conservatives want the church to be conservative. Each is happy so long as their side gets the plug. Actually, maybe we should all squirm a little more.
It is worth noting too that the immigration issue is immediate, directly in front of congress at this moment. To me, that could justify a different treatment from more long-range issues or concerns. If a pro-life issue becomes as burning and immediate I would hope for a similar response. Will the people complaining now complain then that the church is being used for politics?

JP

"So which is it? Do we want homilies that incorporate the faith and how to apply it to the burning issues of the day, or do we want happy talk and the hymn from St. Barney ("I love you, you love me...")?"

cMatt, do we incorporate the Priest or Bishop's
personal politcal views into our faith? As has been stated earlier, most Bishops and priests rarely say anything about abortion during Mass, which is a far more serious moral problem than immigration.

As I see it, the Bishops wish to keep the staus quo on immigration. Here, for once they are in union with the captialists who exploit cheap immigrant labor. Should I follow the Bishops so I can enjoy inexpensive lettuce and tomatoes?

Lisa

If you look at the Archdiocesan website http://www.archdiocese.la/ you can see that there was a bulletin insert (not used at my parish) saying that the postcards would be available to sign after mass. Yet, in other text about the postcard campaign, the Cardinal states that the postcards are to be handed out during mass.

And yes, the postcards were bilingual.

Maclin Horton

No, I would say c matt presents a false dichotomy. There is a middle course between saying nothing and trying to dragoon people into taking a specific stand on a specific question on which there is no obvious Catholic position.

Maclin Horton

I was replying to WRY above.

Tony A

There are a couple of issues here. Having people write political postcards during a mass (on any issue) strikes me as stepping over the line. But homilies should definitely be used to teach about the entire catholic social teaching, bit just the pieces that satisfy your own political ideology. Most people around here seem (for reasons unknown to me) to be seduced by American secular individualism and nationalism. It would be good for them to hear homilies about just war, the death penalty, poverty, immigration, and social justice in general. Likewise, it would be good for so-called liberals to face homilies about abortion and the church's teachings on same-sex marriage.

WRY

Regardless of how folks feel about immigration, it seems a mite touchy to walk out over it. I've been asked in church to sign stuff that I didn't want to sign, so I just left it sitting on the pew. What's the big deal? You could have had to suffer through "Gather Us In" or (as I did once) an extemely long and boring finance committee report. You gonna let stuff like this keep you from Our Lord?

austin

John Paul wrote about faith and reason being the two wings of truth. Handing out postcards during Mass seems to be asking people to believe a certain political position,(without reasoned discussion,) based on faith and the authority of the bishops. There is no time to discuss these issues during Mass and bring up facts that bishops may not know about, since they all are clergymen insulated from the real world of income taxes, raising children, and needing to look for a job. I don't have any obligation to believe any political view of the bishops based upon faith that they are divinely infallible in matters of politics. Reasons MUST be discussed, because all truth is God's truth. Thomas Aquinas famously said that 'appeal to authority' is the weakest form of reasoning. A postcard after mass, or after a forum in which the issue is thoroughly discussed by the laity, is very different and would be appropriate, if one chooses to do so.

Papabile

Related issue...

I enjoyed how Bishop Loverde in Arlington required Priests to distribute pledge cards for the Bishop's appeal during Mass, while a layperson read a script, explaining how to fill it out.

My favorite part was when they told us, "Now, put in the amount you can give."

Now... I have no problem giving to the Church. In fact, I tithe fully 10 percent. I wrote Bishop Loverde a nice letter telling him where he could shove it, and included a copy of a check I wrote to the Missionaries of Charity instead.

Satisfying.

F C Bauerschmidt

I am in complete agreement with Cardinal Mahony on immigration questions, and I even admire his use of his Ash Wednesday homily to speak about the evils of a specific piece of legislation. But I think the passing out and collecting of petition cards at Mass is inappropriate. I would be fine with -- indeed welcome -- a homily on the Christian virtue of hospitality and the biblical mandate to welcome the stranger, coupled with an announcement in the bulletin of the availability of cards to sign after Mass, but the approach taken in the parish in question implies that there is absolutely no room for disagreement among Catholics on how the virtue of hospitality is to be embodied in our concrete situation.

WRY

Maclin,
I'd say the official position on a public policy issue by the USCCB *is* a defined church position, so far as Catholics in the US are concerned. The bishops are our teachers in faith, and when they speak together it may not be an infallible declaration, but it is certainly something swe have to pay attention to. The burden of proof is on those who disagree, not those who think with the bishops and thus with the church.
Also, see what B16 is saying somewhere else on Amy's page.

Donald R. McClarey

I would have crossed out the pre-printed message and written that I wished to see the immigration laws of our nation enforced and if that requires a committment of a corps of troops to do so on our Southern border, so be it. The idea that the Catholic position is to welcome illegal aliens to take up permanent residence in this nation is absurd.

JP

Here are Homily points dealing more directly with poor migrant workers-

Provide them food and clothing.
Offer Mass intentions for them.
Work with the Dioceses that there are Spanish Masses available, as well as other sacraments.

For those in the legal profession- offer pro bono work
For those in medical profession- offer pro bono work.
For those with a few extra dollars- donate to pay for chairity on the immigrants behalf.

Peggy

Papabile,

This story made me think of that day as well. Our priest gave the (obvious) instructions at the end of his homily. I thought the pledge card during mass was a bit pushy, myself.

Tony A

"The idea that the Catholic position is to welcome illegal aliens to take up permanent residence in this nation is absurd."

A perfect example of American secular nationalism in action. Not at all consistent with the teachings of Christ.

Maclin Horton

WRY and others, the cardinal's position, and that of many others more or less of the same mind, strikes me as either vaporous rhetoric or an implicit teaching that it's wrong for a nation to have borders, since they it's wrong to insist that they be honored. Either way, I don't feel the least bit guilty about ignoring it.

I can't find words to express my disdain for a hierarchy that would feel entitled to expect obedience on a specific public policy question but no obligation to insure that core doctrines of the faith are upheld in Catholic schools and seminaries, or that the liturgy is celebrated with dignity and reverence.

Just in case there's any misunderstanding, I have no objection at all to any cleric, whether cardinal or parish priest, telling us, in or out of church, that we're obliged to treat immigrants well. It's the clear implication that any restriction on immigration is unjust that I reject.

Eric

I am amazed to hear WRY say, "the official position on a public policy issue by the USCCB *is* a defined church position, so far as Catholics in the US are concerned."

Absolutely not. The USCCB cannot issue pronouncements binding on all American Catholics. Rome can bind me. MY BISHOP can bind me. But the USCCB cannot.

RC

Interrupting the Holy Mass in order to engage in an act of public policy campaigning is horribly wrong. I'd be against it even if the postcard were for a pro-life campaign. In the sacred liturgy, we are to "lay aside all earthly cares that we may welcome the King of all".

I'm going to guess that distributing postcards during Mass was not the Cardinal's recommendation. (Even though I don't approve of some of Cdl. Mahony's liturgical views, he's probably not that stupid.) Rather, it was probably the pastor's choice: after all, it is common to make parish announcements after the homily.

The recommendation to not criminalize immigrants or their allies may be a weak point in the Cardinal's recommendations. Vatican statements about immigration acknowledge the rights of nation-states to control immigration. This is probably not possible without some use of criminal statutes.

A public policy position by a committee of the USCCB is not church teaching. If I understand the rules aright, only unanimous decisions of the entire conference are binding, unless they obtain papal approval.

Eric

Amen, RC. I beat you to it, but just barely. If the conference voted unanimously on a particular issue, that means that my bishop signed on.

c matt

Does this make the distinction clear

Yes. Which is about the same as what I said.

false dichotomy

Or hyperbole (exagerration to make a point)

Should I follow the Bishops so I can enjoy inexpensive lettuce and tomatoes?

If you followed the Bishops (rather than the capitalists), your lettuce and tomatoes wouldn't be that cheap.

I just find it interesting that, had some priest given a homily on same sex marriage or abortion and been waiving a petition to abolish same, he would have been hailed as hero by one crowd (episcopal spine alert issued), and told to stop mixing politics and religion by another. When its immigration, or war or something else - same applause and condemnation, but in reverse.

And if there is not a single Catholic position on immigration, there are certainly "un" Catholic ones.

Grant Gallicho

Any reason to get verification for this?

chris K

Even God respects our free will! After reading what the faithful seemingly must agree with, I don't understand the incompleteness of (5). That could infer many different possibilities to those with questions. Is there not even room for questioning about, say, how a one time blanket decision for one case may be a precedent for bad results down the road?

C. Mahoney always comes across as a micromanager for his particular pet movements. Yet, everyone always gives the reason for not speaking out from the pulpit (or even bulletins) against abortion or contraceptives, or, for that matter, proper preparation for receiving the Holy Eucharist, as not wanting to turn people away or harm someone's sensibilities, an "in your face" push for agreement on a topic of the day...for some...is way out of proportion or expectation for adherence.

My thinking goes more along the lines of Patrick and Marc.

There is a history where the country itself has been complicit in getting us to this point. That should be taken into consideration before any condemnation or scapegoating, but there should be a new plan for the future and this postcard signing doesn't deal with all of the sticking points...esp. by those who are more violated, either in property or person.

c matt

Thomas Aquinas famously said that 'appeal to authority' is the weakest form of reasoning.

I can only wonder what he must have thought of that old fuddy-duddy that said Roma locuta est; causa finita est.

AnnF

This issue reminds me of a favorite childhood memory of my father from the early 70s. One Sunday, the priest used his homily as an opportunity to lecture us about the migrant farmworkers situation that was in the news at the time. (I don't really remember what it was about. I was pretty young, but I can imagine.) Anyway, the priest told us to boycott grapes and lettuce to support the farmworkers. My father, who I'm sure was sympathetic to their plight, was still outraged to be lectured by a priest about politics in the middle of mass. "This is CHURCH," he said. When we left mass, he drove straight to the grocery store and bought grapes and lettuce.

See you Tuesday in Cleveland, Amy.

Roz

Let's see, the unacceptable elements here were:

1) That action was coerced from a position of pastoral power (or, at least, influence) on an issue on which to disagree or choose an alternate action would not be a sin

2) That the presider at what the Byzantine Catholics so eloquently term Divine Liturgy would be instructed to divert attention from God himself to political action of any kind

3) That the diocese's and parishes spiritual leaders be so glaringly revealed to be what St. Paul referred to as "conformed to this world" (Rom 12:2) and grounded in the political system instead of relying on God and issuing a call for conversion of the hearts of the parishioners to virtue and genuine charity.

And, less out of outrage than amusement, it occurs to me that if Cdl. Mahoney wanted to go to all this trouble to get people on record on the issue of immigration, he could have at least composed text that would have some meat on its bones. What does it mean in this context to "protect our civil liberties" when you are asking for rights to be given to people who currently are not entitled to them? And what does the good Cardinal intend to do about the immigrants and their families who are not "hard working?"

Kevin Jones

How can one get a living wage for the working class when all this illegal labor is being dumped on the market? Even if the illegals' situation is normalized, their numbers will still depress wages.

Colleen

Kevin, it's because as much as we b**** and complain about 'earning a living wage' and 'illegal and/or immigrant labor' we don't want to pay $2.00 for a head of lettuce or $4k to have our houses painted when we can buy the same product for $$$ less due to illegal and/or immigrant labor.

Some of the biggest beefs about WalMart (killing the little guy, import from China, etc.) come from people I know who shop there because it's cheap.

Most of us want it both ways!

Colleen

Oh, and I think it's terrible that a postcard is filled out and the issue discussed DURING Mass. Mass is for one thing only. Any political diatribes need to be saved for AFTER Mass has ended.

The gay marriage thing here in Massachusetts: Church teaching was talked about in bulletins and there were petitions to sign (mentioned after the Mass had ended) in the parish lobby.

Larry

WRY writes :

If a pro-life issue becomes as burning and immediate I would hope for a similar response


Do you have any idea how many unborn babies are killed in Los Angeles County alone everyday. (Hint)It's more than the amount of immigrants who have access to free healthcare.

JP

Coleen,
I am for a guest worker probram for Hispanics that is mirrored on the one Germany uses for Turks; however, as you and others pointed out, this would increase the wages and therefore the costs of Hispanics labor. Employers who now exploit the illegals would refuse to employ them, as the only thing the illegals have going for them is thier willingness to work well below the poverty line. The Law of Unintended Consquences would come to play(There would be less work for the legal guest workers. To find work, they would have to go "underground" again). As long as employers are willing to exploit, and the laborers are willing to be exploited the problem will remain.

The Bishop's stance makes no sense other than grandstanding. It is one thing to remind parishoners of thier duty to perform acts of mercy, it is another thing to take an active part in exploitation.

c matt

Maybe I'm just wrong, but I thought the homily was where today's rubber meets the scriptural road. Handing out petition cards may have crossed the line, but Church teaching on topics of the day should not be banished from the homily to the bulletin.

JP

"Maybe I'm just wrong, but I thought the homily was where today's rubber meets the scriptural road. Handing out petition cards may have crossed the line, but Church teaching on topics of the day should not be banished from the homily to the bulletin."

That is unless the Homily was extracted from The Contract With America, or the DNC Talking Points. Since the Homilistis speaking in person Christi, the content of his sermon shouldn't invoke partisan politics.

Chris Sullivan

Well this sort of thing happens all the time.

You ask Father if you can collect signatures for some political campaign in support of the Church's doctrine and sometimes he says yes and sometimes he says no and sometimes he just goes ahead and organises it himself.

I think when pastors take action to encourage the faithful to take some political action in support of Catholic Social Teaching that they ought to be appluaded, even though there will always be times when they don't want to do what one thinks they ought to do.

C'est la vie !

God Bles

WD

"Maybe I'm just wrong, but I thought the homily was where today's rubber meets the scriptural road. Handing out petition cards may have crossed the line, but Church teaching on topics of the day should not be banished from the homily to the bulletin."


At this particular parish, the postcards were passed out after the homily and before the creed. The homily had nothing whatsoever to do with immigration reform or any kind of social justice. A thoughtful homily on this issue would have been welcome, with an announcement that for those who are interested there would be postcards to sign, a la Mahony, available outside of church after mass.

The double standard that Mahony has for his pet issues, in this case immigration reform, and other important moral and social issues, like the Parental Consent initiative, is shameful.

Maclin Horton

But that begs the question, Chris. Our point is that this is not necessarily Catholic Social Teaching. Those who have been bringing up the exploitation angle, and the effect on the wages of low-income Americans, reinforce the point that this is not the simple good vs. evil question that Cdnl. Mahoney seems to see.

As many commentators have pointed out, support for unrestricted immigration from Mexico is an odd alliance between big business and the left.

Donald R. McClarey


""The idea that the Catholic position is to welcome illegal aliens to take up permanent residence in this nation is absurd."

A perfect example of American secular nationalism in action. Not at all consistent with the teachings of Christ."

Give me a break Tony! All nations have laws against illegal aliens. As it happens, Mexico has very stringent laws against illegal alies within the borders of Mexico. The idea that seeking to enforce laws against illegal aliens is contrary to the teachings of Christ is ridiculous and is not supported by the history or teachings of the Church.

Donald R. McClarey

"alies" should be aliens. I should further note that my late mother was a resident legal alien in this country, and eventually became a naturalized American citizen. I still have the little American flag that was given to her on the date she became an American. Legal immigrants yes! Illegal aliens no!

Phoenix

What Mahony did could be viewed as improper lobbying under IRS tax-exempt rules, and could jeopardize the tax-exempt status of the diocese.

Chris Sullivan

Maclin,

I think what was on the postcard is pretty much in conformity with Catholic Doctrine :-

Dear Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist: I urge you to enact realistic and humane comprehensive immigration reform this year that: (1) includes a path to citizenship for hard working immigrants and their families. (2) provides an effective visa program for future immigrants that protects their rights and includes a path to citizenship. (3) keeps families together, (4) protects our civil rights and civil liberties, and (5) does not criminalize immigrants or their allies. Our immigration laws and our leaders should recognize that immigrants strengthen our economy and contribute to the fabric of our country.

Although I guess the exact interpretation of "does not criminalize immigrants" calls for prudential judgement (which is certainly within the rights and perogitaves of the Bishop).

The following from the Catechism of the Catholic Church spring to mind :-

1911 Human interdependence is increasing and gradually spreading throughout the world. The unity of the human family, embracing people who enjoy equal natural dignity, implies a universal common good. This good calls for an organization of the community of nations able to "provide for the different needs of men; this will involve the sphere of social life to which belong questions of food, hygiene, education, . . . and certain situations arising here and there, as for example . . . alleviating the miseries of refugees dispersed throughout the world, and assisting migrants and their families."

One way to assist migrants and families is by taking political action in their favour.

2241 The more prosperous nations are obliged, to the extent they are able, to welcome the foreigner in search of the security and the means of livelihood which he cannot find in his country of origin. Public authorities should see to it that the natural right is respected that places a guest under the protection of those who receive him.

Political authorities, for the sake of the common good for which they are responsible, may make the exercise of the right to immigrate subject to various juridical conditions, especially with regard to the immigrants' duties toward their country of adoption. Immigrants are obliged to respect with gratitude the material and spiritual heritage of the country that receives them, to obey its laws and to assist in carrying civic burdens.

According to the Catechism, the richest country in the world, is obliged to welcome such immigrants.

2433 Access to employment and to professions must be open to all without unjust discrimination: men and women, healthy and disabled, natives and immigrants.

Forms of unjust discrimination would involve denying immigrants the right to work, for example by criminalising.

And for those who wish to disassociate the mass from support for the poor and for immigrants :-

1351 From the very beginning Christians have brought, along with the bread and wine for the Eucharist, gifts to share with those in need. This custom of the collection, ever appropriate, is inspired by the example of Christ who became poor to make us rich:

Those who are well off, and who are also willing, give as each chooses. What is gathered is given to him who presides to assist orphans and widows, those whom illness or any other cause has deprived of resources, prisoners, immigrants and, in a word, all who are in need.

To take such action in the context of the mass (although better done at the end) is entirely in accord with what the catechism teaches.

God Bless

Tim F.

"What Mahony did could be viewed as improper lobbying under IRS tax-exempt rules, and could jeopardize the tax-exempt status of the diocese."

Well the IRS better get on the ball if they are going to beat the lawyers to the pot of gold Mahoney is making available to everyone.

Hey maybe they will have to sell the Cathedral!

Maclin Horton

I'm sorry, Chris, but I see nothing in those quotes from the Catechism that would oblige one to support the specific legislation that Mahony endorses. There is nothing in it to suggest that there is no distinction to be made between legal and illegal immigration.

Although I will say if the Catechism has declared the existence of national borders to be contrary to the Faith, I do have a problem.

Maclin Horton

"Nothing in them", I should have said. I.e., nothing in the quotes from the Catechism, not the postcard.

JP

Maclin,
The other question is this: What if we did implement into law a program that closley follows The Cdl's "advice", but the migrant laborers ignored it? Which is what happened in 1986-87. What then? Would the Bishops draft a pastoral statement to the illegals reminding them of thier duty to follow established civil law?

Mike Petrik, tax lawyer

"What Mahony did could be viewed as improper lobbying under IRS tax-exempt rules, and could jeopardize the tax-exempt status of the diocese."

I'm afraid not. Tax exempt organizations are given pretty wide latitude to engage in grass roots lobbying regarding proposed legislation related to their mission, and that includes churches on matters pertaining to social justice. There are, in fact, limits, but they are pretty difficult to transgress.
Grass roots lobbying stands in contradistinction to "political" or "campaign" activity wherein a particular party or candidate is targeted for support or opposition. Churches and other tax-exempt organizations are absolutely prohibited from engaging in such activity and violations can result in withdrawal of exempt status, although that is rare.
In my experience Catholic churches do a better job than most in honoring the "legislative lobbying" versus "political campaigning" distinction -- certainly far far better than predominately African-American churches.

While I think the activities described above were out of line, I don't think they were violative of federal tax law. They were out of line because they were heavy-handed in application and involved admonitions that are either prudential or platitudinous in character, depending on how one interprets them.

Caroline

Let us depopulate Mexico through open borders and then let us annex that unproductive but endowed and emptied land become wilderness and turn it into the paradise nature intended joined to the present 50 states as 51 and then some. The downtrodden inhabitants, the pathetic governments, the Catholic Church, devotion to Guadeloupe Herself have created nothing more than an impoverished people in an impoverished country which most of them would gladly flee. The duty of their haven is not only to welcome them for one or two generations but to lead them triumphantly back to their home land as conquerors and restorers. The Manifest Destiny of the USA in 1846 was aborted through fear of spreading black slavery to the south; that same Manifest Destiny is yet to be accomplished through the absorption of Mexico, first through the assimilation of Mexicans through immigration, and secondly through the annexation of the then wilderness of Mexico itself.

From the land of Emperor Norton for those who understand.

Christopher Fotos

If I'd gotten a card like that in the middle of Mass, I would have torn it up on the spot and looked for an appropriate place to toss it.

fbc

Re: walking out of Mass --

I once sat through the beginnings of a homily in which the priest (not the pastor, but a priest in residence at that parish) began his homily by casting aspersions on the "superstitious" practice of "Confession."

I looked at my wife, told her to get up and bring the children. We walked out from the second row.

I did this because I could not stomach having my children hear a priest denigrate a sacrament of the Church. Before we stalked out, I sat there for a while listening to the modernist BS he was spewing. It wasn't until I realized that my children were hearing every word of it, that I decided I had to act.

Was it wrong? I don't believe it was. In fact it was the only rational choice.

Phoenix

Dear Max,
I'm a tax lawyer, too. :) It may be difficult for them to lose their tax exempt status, but they could be sanctioned if Mahony crossed the line. This is what the IRS website says:
"An organization will be regarded as attempting to influence legislation if it contacts, or urges the public to contact, members or employees of a legislative body for the purpose of proposing, supporting, or opposing legislation, or if the organization advocates the adoption or rejection of legislation." According to the letter that Amy posted, all of the above was done.

richard

Well...
1. Q: Is it permissible to get up and walk out of Mass if something truly horrifying is going on, provided that you attend another one later (on a Sunday)?

Of course it is.

If it is a near occasion of sin - the liturgy is prfanized, no longer licit, and a grave scandal to the faithful, then of course leaving is acceptable - though obviously one would try to find another mass.

On something like this? Harder to say.

2. WRY is correct that just because Cardinal Mahoney is once again wildly inconsistent - and inconsistent in ways which make his life much easier among the chattering classes in LA< especially the major media who might otherwise make his life more difficult in digging into his handling of the sex scandals in his bailiwick - in his application of the Church's moral teaching does not invalidate any instances where he might in fact be correct in making a push.

But the question is: Is that what's happening here?

What we're getting to is the Church's social teaching and doctrine, which I feel some very small and limited competence to speak to since I just finished my Masters thesis on it. Because the fact is that the Church *has* a social teaching, which is to say an udnerstanding of the principles which inform the ordering of a just society which allows man to seek the good, the true and the beautiful - not just individual virtues, but a natural ordering of society which allows and promotes their attainment.

But where does immigration fit in?

John Paul has written on the subject, and certainly the US bishops have as well. And what they have written is something which we as faithful Catholics simply cannot ignore. Likewise, therefore, a pastor is within his rights to speak on social teaching from the pulpit - to remind us of the importance of justice, and our role in furthering it.

And yet...

We have to admit that, whatever policy formulation we all each distill out of this body of teaching, the magisterial specificty on immigration is on a different level than on other aspects of its moral teaching, particularly in regards to abortion, euthanasia, or marriage. To put it another way, these questions are identifiable, as Germain Grisez might put it, as moral principles rather than moral conclusions of the natural law. You need only go to the Catechism to see what I mean. Abortion is plainly called "a moral evil." Period. Whatever Chuck Curran might say, that's what the Church's self-understanding on core principles of natural law has always been.

On immigration, such distinctions are lacking in the Catechism. Which is not to say that broad principles of social teaching which apply to the question can't be found in #1897-1948, or in the social encyclicals. There are justice considerations which are due to these fellow men, and as Catholics we cannot simply think they're fulfilled with a nice donation in the Sunday plate or to the St. Vincent de Paul Society. Nonetheless, there's room for prudential consideration in the development of national policy, and the Church has never denied to the state a right to control its essential sovereignty - a principle of which is some level of control of its territory and, therefore, who may enter or leave it.

Because the reality is that unlimited immigration and amnesty are not necessarily unalloyed goods. If many immigrants better their material lot to some degree, other beneficiaries of a more questionable nature also exist: businessmen who profit from cheap labor they can exploit (and if they treated these workers as Church social teaching suggests they ought to in terms of pay and working conditions, they likely would not lack so badly for native workers, thus drying up much of the demand for immigrant workers), and native governments, such as that of Mexico, who obtain a financial and social windfall which allows them to avoid urgently needed social and political reforms. And then there are the unstated costs: migrants ripped out of their native cultures, and the considerable costs born by taxpayers, the latter of which cannot be regarded simply as virtues when compelled by the state to meet the costs.

Therefore I agree with pastoral efforts to urge laity to get involved politically on this issue, and understand the principles of Church social doctrine which should inform that involvement. But to push these cards with very specific policy proposals which involve considerable prudential elements...I find that hard to defend. It is hard enough when you are talking about fundamental "non-negotiables" on things like life issues as it is.

Chris Sullivan

richard,

While I agree that some of the specifics of immigration policy are a matter of prudential judgement on which good Catholics can and do in good faith disagree (as is the case with much of the detailed political implementation of the Church's Social Doctrine), there are more "intrinsic evils" than simply abortion.

In his encyclical Veritatis Splendor, Pope John Paul II outlined a few of them :-

80. Reason attests that there are objects of the human act which are by their nature "incapable of being ordered" to God, because they radically contradict the good of the person made in his image. These are the acts which, in the Church's moral tradition, have been termed "intrinsically evil" (intrinsece malum): they are such always and per se, in other words, on account of their very object, and quite apart from the ulterior intentions of the one acting and the circumstances. Consequently, without in the least denying the influence on morality exercised by circumstances and especially by intentions, the Church teaches that "there exist acts which per se and in themselves, independently of circumstances, are always seriously wrong by reason of their object".

The Second Vatican Council itself, in discussing the respect due to the human person, gives a number of examples of such acts: "... whatever is offensive to human dignity, such as subhuman living conditions, arbitrary imprisonment, deportation, slavery, prostitution and trafficking in women and children; degrading conditions of work which treat labourers as mere instruments of profit, and not as free responsible persons: all these and the like are a disgrace, and so long as they infect human civilization they contaminate those who inflict them more than those who suffer injustice, and they are a negation of the honour due to the Creator".

So, some of the conditions immigrants face such as "subhuman living conditions, deportation, trafficking in women and children; degrading conditions of work" (as defined by an Ecumenical Council) are also stated by the Pope to be "intrinsically evil".

God Bless

WB

"An organization will be regarded as attempting to influence legislation if it contacts, or urges the public to contact, members or employees of a legislative body for the purpose of proposing, supporting, or opposing legislation, or if the organization advocates the adoption or rejection of legislation."

A large Episcopal Church in L.A. County was recently subjected to IRS scrutiny because of a homily preached against the war in Iraq two days before the presidential election, bringing the churchs tax-exempt status into question. I don't think that what Mahony did with his post card campaign is any less of an attempt to influence legislation than the Episcopal priest's was with his anti-war homily.

Chris Sullivan

WB,

So what should the Church do ?

Stop opposing pro-abortion laws and stop supporting anti-abortion laws out of fear of loosing tax status ?

Oughtn't the Church's first responsibility be to stand up for the Gospel ?

God Bless

A Catholic

You guys are talking about a Bishop who uses "liturgical dancers" in the sanctuary during the consecration. He didn't need to pass out postcards to prove his lack of respect for the Eucharist. Mahoney is a Protestant.

Mitchell Young

Susan Peterson,

Surely you can see the difference between people , 'negroes', who were the descendents of those brought here against their will and whose ancestors have lived in the country since before it was a country, and those who caming here consciously breaking our civil laws (thus damaging democracy), make demands on our society, and make the lives of our own poor harder (as anyone who has read the economic literature on immigration understands.)

Second it is well to remember, we are not talking about "immigrants" here -- there is already a pathway to citizenship for legitimate immigrants. We are talking about people who knew and know quite well they are breaking the law and don't give a fig about it. Of course, that goes for their employers also, I'd love to see a few McDonald franchisees in the pokey.

As for JPII's ideas on immigration, I would agree with everything Chris Sullivan quotes, except for the deportation. But change that ',' to 'and' and I would agree. Arbitrary deportation is wrong, but deportation of those who have no right to be here is enforcing a just law, a law which protects our less fortunate and helps avoid all the other things (human trafficking etc) that JPII found evil.

Here's a thought experiment. Suppose 30 million Russians crossed the border into Poland illegally, set up their own communities, demanded citizenship in Poland, education in Russian, elected Russians to political posts. Would the old pope have been sanguine about that? I don't think so, but who knows?

Mike Petrik

"Dear Max,
I'm a tax lawyer, too. :) It may be difficult for them to lose their tax exempt status, but they could be sanctioned if Mahony crossed the line. This is what the IRS website says:
"An organization will be regarded as attempting to influence legislation if it contacts, or urges the public to contact, members or employees of a legislative body for the purpose of proposing, supporting, or opposing legislation, or if the organization advocates the adoption or rejection of legislation." According to the letter that Amy posted, all of the above was done."

Thanks, Phoenix. The IRS explanation is correct, but it is just part of the story. Going by memory here, but unless an organization's legislative lobbying activities are "substantial" relative to all its activities there is no problem, and "substantial" generally is measured by organizational expenditures (there is an elective 10% safe harbor as I recall) -- which is not even a remote possiblity for the Catholic Church. Bottom line is that Mahony may be off base (and I happen to think he is), but the concern that he is placing the exempt status of the archdiocese at risk is just misplaced.

WD

So what should the Church do ?
Stop opposing pro-abortion laws and stop supporting anti-abortion laws out of fear of loosing tax status ?
----------------------------------------------

Of course not. But realistically, what would happen to our already strapped-for-cash parishes if our tax exempt status was lost?
Why couldn't people pass out Mahony's post cards on the sidewalk in front of the church, just as our Respect Life group did to collect signatures for the Parental Notification initiative? Preach homilies on social and moral issues, make announcements after mass. But do NOT interrupt the Most Holy Sacrifice of the Mass to pass out post cards and ask for signatures.

---------------------------------------------------
Oughtn't the Church's first responsibility be to stand up for the Gospel ?
----------------------------------------------------

The Church's first responsibility is to preach the Gospel and administer the Sacraments. Isn't that the right answer?

Chris Sullivan

Mitchell,

The quote in Veritatis Splendor is taken from Gaudium et Spes, 27. On the Vatican website it's translated as :-

Furthermore, whatever is opposed to life itself, such as any type of murder, genocide, abortion, euthanasia or wilful self-destruction, whatever violates the integrity of the human person, such as mutilation, torments inflicted on body or mind, attempts to coerce the will itself; whatever insults human dignity, such as subhuman living conditions, arbitrary imprisonment, deportation, slavery, prostitution, the selling of women and children; as well as disgraceful working conditions, where men are treated as mere tools for profit, rather than as free and responsible persons; all these things and others of their like are infamies indeed. They poison human society, but they do more harm to those who practice them than those who suffer from the injury. Moreover, they are supreme dishonor to the Creator.

I'm also surprised that "deportation" is ruled out. Perhaps the "arbitrary" in "arbitrary imprisonment" also pertains to the "deportation" ?

I expect one needs to go to the official Latin version to obtain the exact meaning.

God Bless

Chris Sullivan

WD,

Action for justice is a constitutive dimension of the preaching of the Gospel as the World Synod of Catholic Bishops in 1971 proclaimed in "Justice in the World" :-

Action on behalf of justice and participation in the transformation of the world fully appear to us as a constitutive dimension of the preaching of the Gospel, or, in other words, of the Church's mission for the redemption of the human race and its liberation from every oppressive situation.

See http://www.osjspm.org/cst/jw.htm

It doesn't seem possible to seperate preaching the gospel from action on behalf of justice.

Personally, I'd rather not have the mass disrupted by people filling out cards but they do exactly this in our parish when they want everyone to fill out some paperwork for the parish.

I think having people distributing cards on the sidewalk outside goes too far in the other direction.

What works well in our parish is for the altar servers to hand out such important material to parishioners as they leave mass.

God Bless

Chris Sullivan

In his 1999 post-synodal apostolic exhortation "Ecclesia in America", Pope John Paul II taught :-

In its history, America has experienced many immigrations, as waves of men and women came to its various regions in the hope of a better future. The phenomenon continues even today, especially with many people and families from Latin American countries who have moved to the northern parts of the continent, to the point where in some cases they constitute a substantial part of the population. They often bring with them a cultural and religious heritage which is rich in Christian elements. The Church is well aware of the problems created by this situation and is committed to spare no effort in developing her own pastoral strategy among these immigrant people, in order to help them settle in their new land and to foster a welcoming attitude among the local population, in the belief that a mutual openness will bring enrichment to all.

Church communities will not fail to see in this phenomenon a specific call to live an evangelical fraternity and at the same time a summons to strengthen their own religious spirit with a view to a more penetrating evangelization. With this in mind, the Synod Fathers recalled that “the Church in America must be a vigilant advocate, defending against any unjust restriction the natural right of individual persons to move freely within their own nation and from one nation to another. Attention must be called to the rights of migrants and their families and to respect for their human dignity, even in cases of non-legal immigration”.

Migrants should be met with a hospitable and welcoming attitude which can encourage them to become part of the Church's life, always with due regard for their freedom and their specific cultural identity.

[My Emphasis]

God Bless

JP

Chris,
There is no exhortation in JPIIs letter to allow illegal immigrants into our nation.

Chris Sullivan

JP,

Agreed.

But the Pope clearly says that even illegal immigrants and their families have rights and are due respect.

And he talks of a "natural right of individual persons to move freely within their own nation and from one nation to another" which may not be unjustly restricted.

I don't have any argument with a just restriction of the right to migrate but I think that's the essence of the current debate - are the current or proposed restrictions just ?

God Bless

Peggy

JP2's letter that Chris cites speaks of "unjust restrictions" on migration and of welcoming "migrants" (general term which could refer to legal or illegals) into the Church--not into legal status in a country. This letter is at a very general level and doesn't expect a nation to concede its borders nor to provide citizensship or legal status to all who enter--by any means.

TomU

This is a great BLOG. I love the back and forth and reason used in these discussions. As a Catholic, I was on the fence on this, but this has definitely made up my mind. I think I stand with the enforcement side. If you support the other side, you have to take your argument to its logical conclusion of not have any borders. I do not see how that will help anybody. Maybe some people will benefit in the short term, but the long term consequences could be disastrous for the immigrants as well as the US Citizens.

Patrick

I'm curious if there is any official US Bishops position on the conditions in the countries these immigrants are coming from which makes them feel the only way to feed their families is to go through a terrible ordeal, break the law, just to earn bad wages most of which they send back home.

These aren't bad people. And Mahoney is right not to demonize them. He's wrong for not putting the attention where it needs to be, on those so-called Catholic countries who have such conditions as to inspire illegal immigration.

Where is the outrage against the cause, not just the effects?

Chris Sullivan

TomU,

I'm trying to argue a third position.

Not that of open borders but that of justice for immigrants and their families and solidarity with them.

The key point seems to me be that of whether or not current and proposed restrictions are just. It seems to me that if there really are some 7 million illegal immigrants that this suggests the current situation is unjust. It certainly has unjust consequences in terms of exploitation of immigrants and the use of such exploitation to drive down wages and conditions in general.

Yesterday the Holy Father, speaking of immigration of Muslims into Europe, said "Christians must particularly open their hearts to the lowliest and the poorest,
in whom Christ himself is especially present"

I think the Holy Father's point is important to keep in mind in this discussion - we're not talking of abstract "immigrants" but of Christ himself who is really present in poor immigrants.

God Bless

Richard

Hello Chris,

"What works well in our parish is for the altar servers to hand out such important material to parishioners as they leave mass."

That seems to make much more sense than what what happened to Amy's interlocutor.

I wouldn't have near the problem with that. In the liturgy, the focus must be on Christ, most especially as he is sacramentally present in the sacrfice of the Eucharist.

This what has gone wrong with both the liturgy and homiletics in so much of the post-conciliar Church - it is not that social justice does not have an essential place within Church teaching, but that the proximate good of social justice is so heavily focused on that sight is lost of the final good of our end in God, the one end which all other ends serve. This simply exacerbates the excessive horizontal transformations of the divine liturgy as put into practice - especially in the archdiocese, alas, of Roger Cardinal Mahoney.

The Gaudium et Spes passage you reference is certainly worth noing, not least because it highlights the need for a proper contextual reading of it. Many ofthe evils denounced - the exploitation of workers, for example - are precisely what mark much of the motivation for and lived reality of heavy illegal immigration to the U.S. In a word, most of them are really being exploited by businesses addicted to cheap, pliant labor, the kind of thing so vigorously denounced in Rerum Novarum and Quadragesimo Anno and plenty of other social encyclicals. If RN and QA were really followed by these businesses...well, the demand for much of this labor would, as I said, dry up. Concomitant with all this is the real harm done, as others have noted, to low and middle wage workers already in America, many of them recent immigrants. Their wages are depressed, and jobs are given instead to even more desperate workers. And this has to be factored into any social teaching basing itself on Veritatis Splendor and Gaudium et Spes, and why on this score prudence comes into play in a way which it does not with abortion, euthanasia, marriage, etc.

Mahoney's push unfortunately elides all these difficulties, and the result is a social teaching cheapened or even discredited for many parishioners. Which is a shame, because he was on very solid ground (whatever his motivations) in pronouncing that lay and religious Catholics and churches could not be and would not be turned into enforcement officers for the INS.

TomU

Hey Chris, the only reason the present situation is unjust is because we let it become unjust due to the lax enforcement on the border. If we start to enforce the border and the laws against present employers, I think many of the illegals here will go home and pressure the Mexican government for real reforms instead of pressuring our government. I think in the long run that is the best solution. Let the laws be enforced for a few years and then we can talk about the current illegal immigrants. I think that is the most compassoinate thing to do at this time. By encouraging more illegal immigration, you are encouraging more innocent people to try and come here instead of facing the real problem. The Mexican Government. Last time I checked, it was democratically elected.

Ben Van Johnson

Christians have a duty to obey lawful and valid authority. Is the government of the United States of America valid and lawful with a right to expect obedience of its citizens? St. Paul said ...not for nothing does the ruler wear a sword...; therefore, to disobey is not just criminal but sinful. Is Mahoney, as bishop of Los Angeles, superior to the lawful authority of vaild government just because he disagrees in this instance? The 8th commandment says, "Thou shalt not steal"; therefore, I have a God given right the profits of my labor, to dispose of as I see fit. Mahoney has no authority, duty, right or privilige, to rob me by proxy via the welfare system of this nation to feed and shelter people here illegally, people he has actively participated in causing to be here. Forsooth, his eye is primarily on the money. After all, "it's a rich country..." Wasn't it Judas who complained the the perfume used to anoint Jesus' feet could have been sold and the money ... given to the poor... How much of the Churches property has Mahoney sold to feed and house those he seeks to bring here? Remember that each of us flushes the toilet 6 or seven times a day, using about 6 gallons of fresh water per flush - last year 11 million ILLEGAL aliens used more than 66 million gallons of fresh water per day or 25 billion gallons of fresh water last year alone. Electricity? Gas? congested roads? Air polution? Do you really think that God gave Mahoney a crown inorder to impose these and other costs on us? Please don't bring other people here and then tell me to take care of them!

Chris Sullivan

In the liturgy, the focus must be on Christ, most especially as he is sacramentally present in the sacrfice of the Eucharist.

For sure.

But it seems from what Amy's correspondent wrote that the postcards were filled in "after the homily and before the Creed" ie before the liturgy of the eucharist. So it seems they wouldn't distract from the eucharistic sacrifice (unless, of course, some parishioners got so upset by the postcards that it upset their participation in the sacrifice, which sadly seems likely).

Still, some parishioners can get similarly upset about something in the homily.

I come back again to what Pope Bendict XVI said yesterday - Christ is really present in the poor and exploited immigrant so it does seem appropriate to also focus on his presence there during the mass. It's not actually distracting us from Christ but focusing us on him.

God Bless

c matt

btw, that posting verification thingy is extremely annoying - I can barely make out the characters half the time. Is there a better way (or am I the only one with bad eyesight)?

A. Siebenaler

I feel it is about time that our CARDINAL and politicians start distinguishing between immigrants and ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS. I'm for immigrants but not those who aren't willing to come over by the rules. Why should our kids follow any rules when we have the illegals being rewarded for breaking our rules. Further more they aren't willing to fit in with our society,learn our language nor honor our country but only their own country. I feel the cardinal and our politicians are only looking for new members to the church and votes.

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