Left lures LA Catholics on illegal issue
Pilgrimage, A Journey of Rediscovery:
Tradition: The Latin Mass with Gregorian Choir
by Jack Cashill
It was one of those providential moments.
On Wednesday, April 19, I was in Los Angeles researching a book I am writing on the state of California. With an hour to kill between appointments, I decided to check out the city’s controversial new $200 million cathedral, a clunky modernist structure with all the spiritual allure of a grain elevator. Given the $3 per 20-minute charge to park, I intended to make the visit quick.
I emerged from the parking garage, however, right in front of a press table. “Are you here for the press conference?” asked the woman manning it. ‘Yes,” I answered. Dressed as I was in a sport jacket, and looking semi-respectable, I aroused no suspicion as I wrote “WorldNetDaily” on the press sheet and got my press pass. I still had no idea what the press conference was about.
I walked up another flight of stairs to a courtyard and saw about a dozen TV cameras arrayed in a semi-circle around a podium. “What’s going on?” I asked one of the cameramen, a generally more trustworthy media breed than the producers and reporters.
“Cardinal Mahoney is going to speak on illegal immigration,” he said. “When?” I asked. “In about ten minutes.” OK, I thought. I can hang around.
As it happened, the Cardinal did not speak but sent instead auxiliary bishop, Gabino Zavala, who was surrounded by about twenty workers and advocates, most of them wearing T-Shirts that read, “Justice for janitors, SEIU local 1877.” They were all part of what was called the “We Are America Coalition.”
The Bishop explained that on May 1, “International Worker’s Day,” the Archdiocese of Los Angeles would instruct its parishes to ring their church bells at 5 P.M. “as a symbol of solidarity” with workers and immigrants. On that same day Catholic schools throughout the diocese would stage various “teach in” activities to help students “gain an understanding” of various immigration issues. Church leaders meanwhile would march down Wilshire Boulevard to “demand” that Congress pass “just and humane” legislation.
As the AFL-CIO leaders who followed the bishop made clear “just and humane” means “genuine legalization now.” These leaders know full well that they such blanket amnesty is a political pipe dream. And for them, that’s just the point. The hard core hope to create from the discontent a permanent revolutionary cadre. The soft core will satisfy themselves with millions of new Democrats. “Today we march,” declared the banners. “Tomorrow we vote.”
The speakers also railed about “death and destruction” in Iraq, the need for universal health care, a higher minimum wage and a smorgasbord of other left wing causes. One can make a legitimate libertarian argument for open borders and free trade, but no such argument would have been suffered in these circles. Although the Bishop did not say so, the LA rally will likely be the greatest gathering of Hispanics on International Worker’s Day outside of Havana, May 1 being the Marxist 4 th of July.
Marxist or not, the LA Catholic Church has yielded to the siren song, and this, alas, is stirring a new wave of anti-Catholicism in Southern California and elsewhere. More than a few people with whom I spoke discerned a pecuniary motive in the church’s position. They argued that the Church needed to recruit new Hispanic troops to help pay for the cathedral and for the legal costs stemming from sundry sex scandals, real and imagined.
Motives, however, are rarely as simple as money. In reality, the noisy “peace and justice” cliques within the church have seized a new opportunity to lure the Church leftward. Troubled by the rightward drift of practicing Catholics on abortion and other cultural issues, they are attempting to make abortion just another issue by elevating workers’ rights to a comparable status. In the 2000 election, they tried the same tactic with the death penalty
Although Cardinal Mahoney treats it as such, abortion is not just another issue. Anyone who has doubts about the Church’s official position on this issue need only read the Pope John Paul II’s 1999 revisiting of Pope Paul VI’s historic encyclical, Humanae Vitae. In this Papal letter, Evangelium Vitae, the Pope’s language is unequivocal.
Depriving an innocent human being of life from conception on is “always morally evil.” This is not just his perspective, nor his wish for the world. Rather, as he notes, “This tradition is unchanged and unchangeable.” There can be no yielding, he adds, to “convenient compromises” or the “temptation of self-deception.” How can there be? “We are dealing,” says the Pope bluntly, “with murder.” On no other subject does the Pope or The Church use language as stark and straightforward as it does with abortion.
By contrast, the Catholic Church writ large has no official position on immigration, legal or otherwise. It does, however, have a position on law in general. In Romans 13:1-7, for instance, the apostle Paul counsels,
To be sure, there is an equally valid tradition of civil disobedience within the Church, but Cardinal Mahoney has shied from the same even on the issue of abortion. And no Catholic can doubt that America’s “governing authorities” have devised immigration laws far more “just and humane” than its abortion laws. To flaunt the former willy-nilly honors no known Catholic tradition. Unfortunately, the peace and justice crowd has found an audience among LA’s left leaning clergy and those centrists hungry for the occasional media bone.
Those same media and their European fellow travelers were horrified when the Catholic Church signaled a rightward shift exactly a year earlier, on April 19, 2005, by choosing as new pope, Cardinal Josef Ratzinger. Providentially too, I found myself in the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris at the very moment of announcement. “Hey, I know the guy,” I enthused spontaneously. I had interviewed the good Cardinal in Rome for a documentary I produced a few years earlier.
With some knowledge of Church tradition, and a buddy at the Vatican, I could not resist the urge to inject a note of realism into the media love fest that followed the Bishop’s talk.
“Bishop,” I blurted out during the Q & A, “what do you say to those Catholics troubled by your alliance with these obvious left leaning groups given their historic affection for abortion rights?”
The Bishop looked at me aghast. Owning the microphone, he had the better hand, but he misplayed it. “What are you talking about?” he sneered.
As respectful as I try to be to my Catholic clergy, I did not appreciate the sneer. “Let me tell you what I mean,” I answered and elaborated in more detail what I had already said.
“This isn’t about left or right,” he answered. “This is about justice.”
“Bishop,” I smiled, “International Worker’s Day?”
I had expected the other reporters to hiss, but they did not. My questioned seemed to remind them of the role that reporters are supposed to play,
“Bishop,” said the next fellow. “You keep saying that the Church is supporting immigration. Isn’t this really about illegal immigration?
I did not have time to listen to the answer. I had a 12 o’clock at Mountain Washington, and I had already spent $9.00 on parking. I only wonder how the Catholic clergy will respond to the Mothers On The March rally being held at noon today, April 28, at LA’s Crenshaw High. These mothers are marching “to protest the loss of jobs in the Black community to illegal aliens.”
Unlike abortion, “peace and justice” can be a sticky wicket.
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