Early in the days of the apostolate, Fr. Pablo Straub — God rest his soul — was a close friend, confidante and counselor for us. One day, when some news was emerging about some corruption of doctrine here or there in the Church, he looked at me and said directly, "Michael, when the liberals show up, the games begin."
He nailed that — what he meant was you can't trust them. They're always angling for something other than what appears to be the case. They've always got some hidden agenda other than what they are talking about, so they play games, mind games, political games, all sorts of games, to win.
A week or so ago, the bishop of Tucson, Edward Weisenburger, did a little soft shoe around statements he made earlier in the month at the bishops' semi-annual meeting in Fort Lauderdale. At that meeting, he raised the question of invoking canonical penalties against Catholics who are involved in either legislation or enforcement of existing laws surrounding illegal immigration and the issue of separating children from adults — sometimes their parents, other time merely posing to be their parents.
A flood of rightly deserved criticism came from every direction at the bishop, thus prompting him to release a "clarification" statement which is just as flawed and misleading as his original thoughts expressed in Fort Lauderdale.
We're going to look at his comments and explore what he did not say or reference, which causes his whole release to fall flat on its face as far as faithful Catholics are concerned.
First, nowhere does the bishop reference or admit the point that the immigrants are breaking the law. He refuses to use the term "illegal" immigrants and prefers the political leftist's vague term of just immigrant. There is a huge difference between illegal and legal immigrants — one played by the rules and went through the process, the other did not.
Does the bishop himself just let anyone walk into his own house or office unannounced, or does he first have them vetted? So, to lump both into the same bland generic description of immigrant does a great disservice to those who played by the rules.
Nowhere does he reference in his document that, many times, the adults with the children are not their parents but human traffickers and drug gang members who are using the little ones as pawns to game the system. That was the reason, in fact, the original law was written to get the children away from such adults, who oftentimes sexually abused the children and still do.
In a striking departure from the opinion of a majority of Americans, nowhere does the bishop say that the parents — if and when they actually are the parents — are responsible. They brought these children across dangerous open country knowing that they were going to be in a position that, if captured, they would lose control of their children.
How about it bishop, do they have any responsibility or blame in this — any whatsoever?
There are other things the bishops completely fails to mention - perhaps the most egregious and the one that stuck in the craws of almost every Catholic worth his weight in salt - the complete hypocrisy in threatening to level ANY penalties against Catholics involved in this and the complete silence regarding the actual murder of children by Catholic politicians.
He uses abortion as an example of something being legal but immoral but never calls for its abolition or, more to the point, canonical penalties leveled against the very Catholic men and women who have for nearly half a century been responsible for abortion achieving such an exalted legal status.
And that point will be made further during the upcoming Supreme Court confirmation hearings when Catholic-in-name-only senators will sit there and grill the nominee and posture for the cameras over the sacred right to abortion being threatened.
Will the bishops get together and do their barnyard dance when denouncing attacks against pro-life nominees by subversive Catholic pro-aborts? That he can't see the sheer idiocy of his logic in this regard is frightening, in the least.
He also fails to mention that the bishops' social justice agencies, as well as a good number of individual dioceses, receive rather large sums of money from the federal government to address the illegal immigration issue.
Now, to extend some benefit of a doubt to His Excellency, perhaps all he wanted to do was confine his clarification to the question of penalties and so forth — fair enough, but he doesn't get to do that. He opened this can of worms by raising the possibility — out loud with other bishops — of going after Catholic lawmakers or immigration workers.
Given the lack of credibility of the bishops in so many many areas of their duties, where they have demonstrated a massive dereliction of duty time and time again, he couldn't seriously expect that all of this would not be considered fair game, could he?
How, given the climate of abortion and what the Pope himself has labeled a "throwaway culture," could you not give even a mention of the need to go after pro-abortion Catholic politicians? Surely, they have, without a doubt or hesitation, brought more death than any U.S. government policy regarding illegal border crossings — yet Catholic ICE workers draw your ire and Catholic child killers get a pass?
You and your fellow Democrats in robes at the bishops' conference are not being paid attention to by Catholics who care about the Church because of your willful blindness. You would be well-advised to issue yet another "clarification" about using the weight of canon law against child-killer Catholics — but, we won't wait for that any time soon.
The same party that sanctions the child killing is the same one who hands all of you money in the social justice swamp you wallow in. What is perhaps most disturbing is the tone of all this from not just Weisenburger, but the conference of American bishops as a whole.
They go to great lengths to make it seem like they speak authoritatively on this question — they do not. They demonize those who call out their imprudent prudential judgments, they moralize over the gnat and swallow the proverbial camel and they make money from the people they will not denounce.
Indeed, when the liberals show up, the games begin.