The USCCB, short for United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, is a powerful collegial body that articulates the U.S. Church’s position on numerous issues. These include voting. In its exhortation, “Forming Consciences For Faithful Citizenship,” sub-titled “Catholics Care. Catholics Vote,” the bishops told their flock that abortion was an intrinsic evil and that any Catholic who voted for a candidate who supports an intrinsic evil risks salvation. Parenthetically, the document talked less about war, a whole lot less.
Reunions of damned Catholic Democrats are being organized in hell but there’s no need to RSVP. God knows who you are. Having told the faithful to vote for Trump, (he was the only candidate on the ballot opposed to abortion), the Bishops might live to regret betting so heavily on the come. Out of America’s 11.1 million illegal aliens, 6.2 million are from Mexico and 1.78 million come from Central and South America, according to immigrationprocon.org. That’s a whole lot of presumptive Catholics who’ll be getting the boot. Fortunately for clerics, they are immune.
The bishops declared that all moral failings are not equal and elected to oppose one, abortion, essentially, over all others. That is their right, but now they must contend with a President who wants to break families as he snatches up millions of Catholics. It’s a pity that some will die at the hands of those they had fled. The de-facto orphans that mass deportations may create is, likewise, tragic. A great many of the expelled will face an unknown future that’s, likely, to be more abject than heavenly.
The bishops traded these people, their people, and others, too, from all over the world, for a chance to have the, now legal, abortion laws articulated in Roe overturned by a nine member Supreme Court. It’s a big bet considering some expect the Chief Justice, John Roberts, to go rogue anytime, now. He did once, already, on another big-ticket item, Obamacare. In their rectories, meanwhile, the bishops are pondering a cogent response to the impending dragnet for illegal aliens.
To make his deportations easier, Donald Trump has pledged to withhold federal funds from “sanctuary cities.” Although the definition of a sanctuary city is fluid, it’s used, broadly, to designate any city that tolerates illegal immigrants or provides them services. Los Angeles was the U.S.’s first sanctuary city, earning that title in the 1970’s. What is now a national movement began at La Placita, or the Church of Our Lady Queen of the Angels, the oldest church in the city, located feet away from the spot where Los Angeles was founded by 22 adults and 22 children in 1781. All of them hailed from Sonora, Mexico.
The current Archbishop of Los Angeles, Jose Gomez, was born in Mexico. That is unremarkable, though, because Hispanics are so prevalent in Los Angeles that you can find Mexican Sushi chefs there. Colonized at the behest of King Charles III, of Spain, the City has never lost its Hispanic roots. The State of California, all told, is home to, approximately, 25% of all U.S. illegal immigrants and, in a 2013 article, the Christian Science Monitor reported that 1 in 10 Angelenos was an illegal. It is the front line of a brewing war.
Migrant tent cities have existed, before, in courtyards of Los Angeles churches, but there is, hardly, room for the millions of illegals that will soon be running from federal lawmen. LAPD Chief, Charlie Beck has said, pre-emptively, that he won’t cooperate with any federal swoops and grabs. “It’s a matter of principal,” Beck told a press conference, adding that he fears a deterioration of a sometimes-delicate relationship between the minority community and his officers. He, also, predicted increased crime if his force is diverted to federal purposes.
Now that the election is over, the bishop are going to have to accept the consequences of choosing to Tango with Trump and, not to forget, the people in their own pews. We’ll see if they’re as courageous as Chief Beck. Governor Jerry Brown, L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti, and the Democrat controlled California Legislature are, all, expected to take similar stands.
The bishops have a lot to worry about. In some Catholic churches in Los Angeles there are no English masses, but plenty in Spanish. There is no middle ground in the Hispanic community on the deportation issue. Many of those likely to forcibly leave have been here for years, pay taxes, though ineligible for benefits, and consider themselves to be Americans. Even schoolchildren are worried at the prospect of Trump’s promise to cleanse the nation of the undocumented.
The bishops, if for no other reason than self-preservation, will have to oppose large-scale deportations. It was easy enough for them to ignore the slaughter of Christians in Aleppo. It’ll be harder to ignore the veil of tears from the faithful when the flock is scattered and winnowed, like wheat from chaff.
Pope Francis has urged his Church to be less centered on just two things - abortion and homosexuality. He said there’s more to talk about than these two topics. The bishops of the United States, however, have chosen to disregard him and are now faced with fierce battles, not only on migration but, also, prejudice, income inequality, health services, and the environment, just to name a few. The howling, and gnashing of teeth, that’s sure to come from the American successors of the Apostles will ring distinctly hollow to many, Catholic and non-Catholic, alike, because the bishops have invited consequences that will last far longer than the Trump presidency.
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