Friday, May 28, 2010

Morality and the Immigration Question

Catholic News Agency recently published a very interesting interview with Archbishop Jose Gomez, who will be Archbishop of Los Angeles sometime in the next year. The interview is actually much broader than the immigration question, in that ++Gomez is asked to talk about "the future" of Hispanic Catholics.

(Note on symbols. "++Name" is a British online way of saying "Archbishop", "+Name" means "Bishop" and "Name+" means "Priest". I like it, it is short and sweet, and I'll use it.)

The most interesting general response (and relevant for non-Hispanics as well): "Hispanic ministry should mean only one thing—bringing Hispanic people to the encounter with Jesus Christ in his Church."

++Gomez also makes the following key point, which again should be of interest to all American Catholics:
I believe that in God’s plan, the new Hispanic presence is to advance our country’s spiritual renewal. To restore the promise of America’s youth. In this renewed encounter with Hispanic faith and culture, I believe God wants America to rediscover values it has lost sight of—the importance of religion, family, friendship, community, and the culture of life.
He repeats those five qualities a bit later, affirming that they are values shared by Americans new and old, Hispanic or not, thus depicting such values as unifying themes between Hispanics and other Americans.

On the immigration question, he states very clearly,
I’m not a politician. I’m a pastor of souls. And as a pastor I believe the situation that’s developed today is bad for the souls of Americans. There is too much anger. Too much resentment. Too much fear. Too much hate. It’s eating people up.
Notice, not just bad for the souls of Hispanics, but of all Americans. That's a refreshing point of view!

I am not personally convinced that "racism" is as important as he and others think it is, but that's just my opinion -- I realize that impressions are important, and if we -- American citizens -- give the impression of being racist, others will interpret such impressions to believe we are racist. It's just that personally I don't feel like race is of any importance, and I'm pretty sure "Hispanidad" is not a racial characteristic anyway, but rather a cultural one. But, those are not major points.

The interview should be read in its entirety. ++Gomez does speak like a spiritual Shepherd, and although he is not unconscious of current politics on the immigration question -- what American could be? -- his analysis is Christian and religious, and clear. And could be used for mental prayer, and examination of conscience.

One specific suggestion relates to how illegal immigrants ought to be punished, instead of deportation: "intensive, long-term community service would be a far more constructive solution than deportation. This would build communities rather than tear them apart. And it would serve to better integrate the immigrants into the social and moral fabric of America".

Perhaps it should not be so very long-term (unless eventually compensated), but that would be a remedial solution, i.e., one which provides a "remedy" rather than a "penalty", and if properly implemented, contains the promise of integrating the immigrants, much like military service has done for immigrants of all kinds, including the Irish some of whom were conscripted right off the boats during the Civil War (by both sides).

Something to think about.

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