Skip to comments.(Catholic Priest) Cites Church Stand Against Illegal Immigration [Ecumenical]
Posted on 04/29/2010 3:47:35 PM PDT by Pyro7480
Fr. Patrick Bascio, an author and retired priest of the Holy Ghost Fathers, recently had published On the Immorality of Illegal Immigration, a book that he says has been sent to many bishops to help inform their views. Fr. Bascios book was published by AuthorHouse, Bloomington, Ind., 800- 839- 8640, www. authorhouse. com. Bascio, who served in the United States, the Caribbean, and Africa and whose e- mail address is paj bascio@ yahoo. com, engaged in the following edited e- mail interview with The Wanderer.
Why do you think a Catholic priests book on the immorality of illegal immigration is needed? Do you think your experience as a priest gives you a special perspective?
A. I believe that a book on the subject from a priest is badly needed. My experience is that there is universal belief on the part of the average Catholic Christian that since the American bishops have, at times, approved of the demonstrations [about illegal immigration] to the point of sometimes advising their priests to break the law and give illegals sanctuary, that this must be the official position of the Church.
However, the Vatican has made clear that although it wishes bishops to assist any immigrant with special care, since they are usually very poor and dislocated, it also has made clear that this assistance must always be within the laws of the host nation.
Q. You have worked with poorer people in other countries. How did your pastoral background assist you in addressing the argument that large-scale illegal immigration must be accepted or encouraged because it helps the poor from other countries?
A. Helping the poor from other countries must be placed within the context of the larger picture of justice for all peoples. If we approach the problem in that way, we cannot rule out indeed we must rule in the fact that for every person from a foreign country who finds work in the United States, an American loses that job.
And since we are talking about many millions of people, we can see immediately that what we are doing is putting into poverty millions of Americans while at the same time enriching the many owners of American industries andcorporations who are getting further enriched by hiring illegal aliens and paying them far less than they do Americans.
That suffering Americans have experienced not having work because illegal aliens have taken their jobs is not a new phenomenon, but todays experience is much worse, due to bad fiscal and regulatory management that goes back about 20 years, at all levels of our government.
Unfortunately, American religious leaders rarely, if ever, addressed the problem of unemployment with a good economic understanding. They need to be much better educated in this area. There is an abundance of well- educated priests and laymen in our many Catholic universities who could be called upon to help the bishops understand the nature and causes of poverty in rather large pockets of our nation.
Q. Often U.S. bishops, even respectable, religiously orthodox bishops, will speak only of assisting immigrants when they specifically, directly mean illegal aliens. When they apparently fear to speak clearly and openly about their intentions, what are we to think about the failure to use honest language?
A. On the matter of illegal immigration the bishops have boxed themselves in by taking a position in treating illegals that is not in agreement with that of the Vatican. How that should happen to a group of men who have at their disposal all the Vatican documents, and experts to read the documents for them, is beyond me.
To have not only allowed but encouraged their clergy to assist illegals by offering them sanctuary violates the Vatican position that all that can be done for illegals should be done, but within the framework of the host nations laws. To aid and abet lawbreaking violates not only the civil law but all the teachings of the Church on that subject.
This is not to say that there can never be a circumstance where assisting someone to avoid the law could have a moral basis, but surely that is the exception rather than the rule, especially in the situation where it is assisting Americas poor to remain poor.
Q. You mentioned to me that as a retired priest of a religious order, you dont have to worry about being deprived of your living, and you can speak openly. Do you think some clergy fear for their financial well- being and assent to, or at least decline to openly oppose, political correctness on illegal immigration?
A. I would put it this way. Since there is always a desire among the priests to reflect to the people in their parishes a view that is not in contradiction to their local bishops, the priests will put aside their own personal views for what they consider the greater good of Church unity.
This is a laudable intention and for the most part should be their view of what position they take and what positions they should not take. However, in the case of illegal immigration, they should also consider what suffering they might bring on their own parishioners as a price for that unity. Perhaps the price to pay is too high, because it means abandoning the needs of the poor in their own parishes.
I would advise all priests to get on the Internet and see what the Vatican policies are in this matter. I do not believe that the policy should be that of being hypersensitive to the bishops position on this subject, if their position is not in union with Rome.
We need to look at the clerical- life culture, which is, to my brothers in the priesthood, to back each other up, etc. the usual characteristics of a fraternity. It happens in all larger groups, as we often see among the members of Congress or workers for a large corporation, etc. A certain natural bonding takes place. So, to go against the tide in any organization including the priesthood especially in units that are localized, like a diocese the unity is more natural than for a member of a religious order that has often multilingual, multinational members. In the case of a religious order, our authority comes from Rome. All religious orders now have their headquarters in Rome, and they have a different worldview, let us say, than the bishop of a small diocese in Texas or Oklahoma. So since we are to some extent detached from the local bishop and whatever his philosophy is, we tend to be more informed by our confreres and superiors who are not Americans.
In Rome or Africa, or wherever we work, we see the Church in a slightly different light, i. e., as more universal with regard to custom and attitudes. This gives us more freedom and opportunity to view Church in a different light, not confined to local issues.
lower salary than you are making. That makes every job in America vulnerable on any given day, because unscrupulous businessmen themselves arrange for groups of foreigners to enter the nation illegally to fill their workshops. American opposition to illegal immigration is merely a question of natural self- preservation, but self- preservation based on rights as an American citizen.
My experience in Harlem and elsewhere gives me, I believe, a better perspective on this subject than a priest from a diocese who only remotely understands the complexities of the immigration issue. And, certainly, the American diocesan priest is not thinking of the complexity of this problem, which involves the need for foreign governments to develop industrial bases of their own, so that they can keep their citizens at home.
Q. Two years ago a Mexican-American attorney living on the Arizona side of the border, who works with businessmen, told me of hundreds of thousands of Mexicans living in cardboard boxes and desperately needing work. What solution would you offer, both during poor economic times for the U. S., such as under the current Obama economy, and good economic times? Instead of illegal immigration, a guest- worker program?
A. Once again this question and its solution go to the fact that these nations do not invest in their own people, do not build economic infrastructures that can maintain their own people in jobs that will support their families.
Here is a good example of why the Mexican bishops are abandoning their duty. They are taking the easy way out: Go to America to find a job. These bishops would be raising a cry for their own rich capitalists to invest in their own nation. But not only do the Mexican bishops not do that, they encourage their people to emigrate and they pressure their brother bishops in the United States to support them. That is a corrupt system and must be changed.
With regards to the illegals problem in the U. S., there is pretty much unanimity between liberals and conservatives, except for the rich businessmen who participate in actually bringing in busloads of illegals for temporary work. These men are not really interested in discussing the question. They simply want to enrich themselves off the backs of an illegal working man or woman.
Liberals and conservatives are equally convinced that illegal immigration is bad for our nation. They showed that in the 2007 congressional fight to pass any laws supporting illegals. So, on this particular subject, there is no distinction between liberals and conservatives, in practice.
Q. Would you please state your view about why big business and left- wing activists, as well as politicians from George W. Bush to John McCain to Charles Schumer to Barack Obama, are determined to encourage and legitimize unrestrained illegal immigration to the U. S.?
A. With reference to politicians, both Republicans and Democrats are thirsting for this huge Latino vote, both legal and illegal, that will probably determine the outcome of elections for the foreseeable future. We Americans have put ourselves in that position byignoring our porous borders for years and years. Right now the Democrats have an edge, but Republicans are trying hard to catch up.
Then you have another group, which I belong to, who reads the encyclicals and is aware that the official Church teaching favors a European form of capitalism, with a strong socialist component in matters social health care, the backing of unions, etc.
Then there are Christian conservatives who are against the capitalist/ socialist combination that the Catholic Church advocates. This is fine for non- Catholic Christians since they are not obliged to follow Catholic teaching. However, in reality, if you look at the teachings of all the major Christian denominations, they heavily favor unionization, universal health care, etc. So, what we have is a major defection of Christians from the teachings of their own churches. This is the subject of the new book I am writing.
Then you have the rest of Americans, who choose whatever suits them and reject whatever does not suit them. They are Christian in name only. So, the crisis of Christianity shows its head over all these social issues.
Q. While the Church can clearly be identified as opposing raw Manchester capitalism, was not John Paul IIs encyclical Centesimus Annus regarded as showing an appreciation of capitalism properly practiced? And the Churchs historical preference for subsidiarity is hard to reconcile with the socialist systems of big government. Pius XIs admonition is recalled atop
The Wanderers front page each week, No one can be at the same time a sincere Catholic and a true Socialist.
A. I do not know what sort of familiarity you have with the European form of socialism, but it fills the bill as far as the papal encyclicals are concerned. France, England, Italy, and Germany are as capitalist as can be. They simply have provided what the Church maintains as a right, the right to universal health care. The Church is very adamant on that subject. And it curbs excessive capitalism in the sense that the wealthy are heavily taxed, since all the encyclicals insist that wealth must be shared, but in the sense that wealth is produced by a combination of labor and investment.
. . . Let me give you a concrete example. Paolo Best, an Italian and very good friend of mine, in his Milan factory produces the machine that makes the machines that make carpets. The machine is about as high as a two- story building. He is the worlds largest producer of that machine.
He pays 60% of his profits as taxation. This leaves him enough money to own a gorgeous yacht, 110 feet long; a large garage with each member of the family owning a car of their choice; a luxurious home on Lake Como, etc. His children, like all European children, go to the university free of charge. They also have a free apartment to live in if the university is x amount of miles from their home. So his lifestyle is somewhat eaten into by such high taxation, but he is hardly suffering.
Now if you compare that with Cuban socialism, North Korean socialism, etc., then we get into the bad stuff. That is why it is necessary to use the word European before the word socialism, so that we know the difference.
Q. Regarding illegal immigration, as Pope Benedict was flyingto the U. S. for his 2008 visit, he said in his airborne news conference: The fundamental solution is that there would no longer exist the need to emigrate because there would be in ones own country sufficient work, a sufficient social fabric, such that no one has to emigrate. Therefore we should all work for this objective, for a social development that permits offering citizens work and a future in their land of origin. And this January, Catholic News Service quoted Bishop Howard Hubbard, chairman of the U. S. bishops Committee on International Policy: The first principle of the U. S. bishops with regard to immigration is that migrants have the right not to migrate in other words, to be able to find work in their own home countries so they can support their families in dignity. Migration should be driven by choice, not necessity.
It sounds like those who favor amnesty instead of improving the home countries are the ones out of step with the Church.
A. Yes, but I believe that is a relatively new position with the U. S bishops. . . . I suspect Rome wrote quietly to the fellows here and said that the official position is that of the Pope. In any case, that bishops statement is very welcomed, regardless of his motive for writing it. We are on the right track.
Copies Sent To Bishops
Q. What has been the public reception of your book?
A. It has been more than I could have expected. The recent, dramatic change on the part of at least some bishops I attribute to their having read my book, because I received many letters from the public telling me that they sent copies of my book to their local bishop. . . . So, I am hopeful that the book will help turn the tide and defeat whatever legislation [ Barack] Obama puts forth.
Q. Tell us about your educational background, which includes a bachelors in philosophy and a masters in psychology, and also news about your health and recent operation.
A. My most formative formal education was the Ph. D. that I did at Fordham, because it was focused on the morality of political and economic systems at least it was the most important part for me.
My health is not good in the sense that the docs fully expect that I will die from the persistent and pernicious form of cancer that they have been extracting from my body. And now they can cut no more. So, the next time, it appears I will probably be put in a VA hospice to finish off my days.
I had two operations on the base of my tongue. The first one did not disturb my speech much. But after I went a few weeks, they discovered more cancer at the base of the tongue. They had to remove the flap, that part of the throat that enables one to swallow. Since I cannot swallow, my mouth is constantly flooded with sputum, making it quite difficult to speak.
Now, if you are in the same room with me, it is not bad because I can turn on the suction machine and suction my mouth and resume speaking. Trying to do that while on the phone is just practically impossible.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church says:
2241 (b) 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.
The Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, paragraph 298, says:
Regulating immigration according to criteria of equity and balance is one of the indispensable conditions for ensuring that immigrants are integrated into society with the guarantees required by recognition of their human dignity.
The moral and social view propounded in the Catechism is my guide, and it is excellent.
The U.S. Bishops who sponsor, excuse and enable the massive illegal network which is bringing people into this country unlawfully, are clearly in the wrong.
This is clericalism at its most obnoxious, because these Bishops are wrongly clothing themselves in episcopal authority while usurping the role and responsibility of the laity, which is action for righteousness in the political sphere.
If anybody here, Catholic or not, stands with the Catechism and against the USCCB clerical bureaucracy, they will find an ally in me.
Thanks, Pyro and Mrs. Don-o!
This looks like a good read — how long til his Bishop threatens to suspend or excommunicate him? It appears Catholics can support healthcare reform that kills babies thru funding abortion, and support schools like Notre Dame that teach all sorts of deviant philosophies and anti-Chrisitan, anti-life concepts with church money — but I figure this priest will get in a heap o’ trouble for questioning the Church on supporting Illegal Immigration.
God bless Fr. Bascio. Common sense — something lacking in many of our bishops.