Secular Right | Reality & Reason

Jun/14

1

Wenski Demands Action: Please Fill My Pews

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WenskiHere’s Miami’s Roman Catholic archbishop Wenski writing from, so to speak, his tax-exempt pulpit, with an attack on the position that the Republican-controlled House has taken on immigration ‘reform’:

As the Archbishop of Miami, a region with more than one million immigrants who came to America seeking a better life, I was pleased and hopeful when the U.S. Senate passed a bipartisan immigration reform bill endorsed by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

But that was almost a full year ago. Ever since then, the leadership of the House of Representatives has offered a litany of delays and excuses for inaction and obstruction. These political whimpers stand in contrast to the cries of torn-apart immigrant families that echo in parishes across the country. Parents of American children are deported. Eleven million of our neighbors live in constant fear of losing their loved ones, their jobs, their place in a country that has become home.

A nation of immigrants and a beacon of democracy can surely do better. Now is the time for the House to pass common-sense, comprehensive immigration reform that the American people support and the American economy needs…

Wenski appears to know about as much about economics as his (quasi) Peronist boss in the Vatican. The American economy does not “need” immigration reform. And America’s unemployed (the sort of people for whom, incidentally, priests are supposed to care) do not need yet more competitors for the jobs that they would like to have and, in an age of increasing structural unemployment, are likely to find it ever more difficult to secure.

Wenski thunders on:

I believe Speaker Boehner (R-Ohio) knows that passing comprehensive immigration reform is the right thing to do, and that there are enough people of good will in the House to get it done. What remains to be seen is whether these legislators understand the fierce urgency of the situation. Criticism from the partisan base might loom larger than the plight of an altar boy whose father awaits deportation, but which is more important?

This priest, it seems, is not too happy with democracy (or, as he would term it, “criticism from the partisan base”).

Naturally Pope Francis’s notorious Lampedusa talk gets an implicit plug:

Pope Francis…condemns a “globalization of indifference” that takes immigrants’ lives.

Here, again, is some of what Theodore Dalrymple had to say about that particular piece of demagoguery:

In his homily, the Pope decried what he called ‘the globalization of indifference’ to the suffering of which the tragedy of the drowned was a manifestation and a consequence. Our culture of comfort, he said, has made us indifferent to the sufferings of others; we have forgotten how to cry on their behalf. He made reference to the play of Lope de Vega in which a tyrant is killed by the inhabitants of a town called Fuente Ovejuna, no one owning up to the killing and everyone saying that it was Fuente Ovejuna that killed him. The West, said the Pope, was like Fuente Ovejuna, for when asked who was to blame for the deaths of these migrants, it answered, ‘Everyone and no one!’ He continued, ‘Today also this question emerges: who is responsible for the blood of these brothers and sisters? No one! We each reply: it was not I, I wasn’t here, it was someone else.’

The Pope also called for ‘those who take the socio-economic decisions in anonymity that open the way to tragedies such as these to come out of hiding.’

With all due respect, I think this is very loose thinking indeed of a kind that the last Pope would not have permitted himself. The analogy between the two situations, the murder of the tyrant in Fuente Ovejuna and the death by drowning of thousands of migrants, is weak to the point of non-existence. After all, someone in Fuente Ovejuna did kill the tyrant; no one in the west drowned the migrants. Is the Pope then saying that Europe’s refusal to allow in all who want to come is the moral equivalent of actually wielding the knife?

By elevating feeling over thought, by making compassion the measure of all things, the Pope was able to evade the complexities of the situation, in effect indulging in one of the characteristic vices of our time, moral exhibitionism, which is the espousal of generous sentiment without the pain of having to think of the costs to other people of the implied (but unstated) morally-appropriate policy…..

And that’s just fine with Wenski.

Of course, we need to remember that what Wenski is preaching has very little to do with compassion, and a great deal to do with power, and more specifically, the power of numbers. Latino immigration fills pews, and (often) adds support for the Roman Catholic Church’s ideological agenda.

As The Economist explained a month or so back:

Together with a general migration from the north-east and Midwest towards the sunbelt, the number of people leaving the faith has led to a shrinking of Catholicism in its former heartlands…

This shrinking has been offset by growth in the South and southwest of the country. The number of Catholics in the archdiocese of Atlanta has increased by 180% in 2001-11. In these growth areas two-thirds of all Catholics are Hispanic. Hispanics tend to have larger families and their children are more likely to stick with the religion than the offspring of white Catholics. This is causing a big change in the ethnic makeup of the faithful. About a third of American Catholics are Hispanic, but for those under 40 the share rises to almost half.

And that’s what Wenski’s advocacy is really about.

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7 comments

  • BehindTheLines · June 2, 2014 at 3:33 am

    “Our culture of comfort, he said, has made us indifferent to the sufferings of others; we have forgotten how to cry on their behalf.”

    Ironically, the opposite is true. It was only when the industrial revolution raised the income of the average person to the point where he had a surplus and did not have to worry about his family starving did people start to be much concerned with the plight of the poor. A 1750s Londoner could walk by a starving man on the street and not give it much thought. That was not true in 1900, because by then people had money to give. Private charities, and later the welfare state, are only possible because of science, capitalism, and all that other Enlightenment stuff that the Church has never been big on.

  • yoshi · June 2, 2014 at 4:55 am

    “The American economy does not “need” immigration reform”

    Anyone who doesn’t acknowledge that our current immigration policy isn’t damaging our economy is more delusional than your average catholic bishop.

    “do not need yet more competitors for the jobs that they would like to have”

    What jobs do Americans like to have? Because i have 50 open positions that all pay 100k+ that i can’t fill. So those jobs are going to other countries.

  • Richard · June 2, 2014 at 3:12 pm

    I’m always disappointed when Stuttaford resorts to the “attack the motive” fallacy and conspiracy mongering when criticizing the bishop’s stance on immigration reform. (What exactly is this “ideological agenda” of the Catholic Church that Stuttaford is so afraid of? That sounds like something out of a 19th century No Nothing pamphlet.)

    More Catholic immigrants might increase the number of people in the pews, yes. But they’re not going to be throwing much in the collection plate if they’re working minimum wage jobs. If anything, more parishes full of low income immigrants will be a financial strain on the dioceses, the way that they’re a strain on health care, schools, etc. I don’t agree with the bishops’ position on immigration, but I believe that in good faith they are trying to apply Matthew 25:31-46.

  • LiveFreeOrDie · June 3, 2014 at 6:52 pm

    Um, I want them all to go back home, but…
    they don’t have to be legalized to attend church,do they?

  • Author comment by Andrew Stuttaford · June 7, 2014 at 4:04 pm

    Richard, ‘Ideological agenda’? This story here is the sort of thing I was thinking of.

    It’s important to remember that bishops owe (as they should) a strong loyalty to the institution in which they have flourished. It is perfectly natural that they should wish to support developments in the US political sphere that enhance that institution’s influence.

    The bishops may well have the sort of charitable beliefs that you ascribe to them (and the Catholic Church has never been entirely comfortable with the idea of the nation-state) but they also are men whose job description brings with it an obligation to recognize the realities of the world in which we live, and play the political game accordingly.

  • Author comment by Andrew Stuttaford · June 7, 2014 at 4:08 pm

    Yoshi, take a look at the labor participation rate. As for your ’50 open positions’, in what field are they? There are very few areas of genuine labor shortage in this country. There are however plenty of employers who are not prepared to pay up.

  • Acilius · June 12, 2014 at 4:18 pm

    Well, not only has Protestantism been growing rapidly in Latin America in recent decades, but immigrants from Latin America to the USA are the one group of Latin Americans who are most likely to leave the Roman Catholic church. So while I don’t doubt that the locked-in pro-immigration mentality that characterizes Roman Catholic bishops in the USA has its roots in the wish that immigrants will solve the problems that declining church attendance has presented to those men, I am quite sure that no such wish will be granted.

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