It should not be limited to just a few weeks out of the year, but come December, the words, “Peace on Earth and goodwill toward men” seem to resonate a little more for most of us. “Peace on Earth” may be beyond our capacity, but “goodwill toward men” is something each of us can practice 365 days a year. We Americans can take pride in the fact that as a nation and as individuals we are the most generous people on Earth. Surveys tell us that Americans are the most charitable people in the world, in good times and in bad.
It is a proper and necessary function of our religious leaders – of all faiths – to remind us constantly that we must always be looking out for ways to do more for those in need. In that spirit, I will ascribe the best of all possible motives to a recent letter signed by 33 of the nation’s Roman Catholic bishops. In the letter, released on December 12, the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, the bishops call, yet again, for amnesty for illegal aliens and immigration on demand for those who wish to come here. “We recognize that every human being, authorized or not, is in the image of God, and therefore possesses infinite value and dignity.”
I have but one word in response: “Amen.” As a public representative of the nation’s most prominent organization advocating enforcement of immigration laws and more limited immigration, I remind myself every day that every human being must be treated with respect and dignity. On that score, there is no dispute between FAIR and the Catholic bishops.
But here is where we part company. The bishops, like many other religious leaders, look at immigration solely from the perspective of the immigrants themselves. Of course immigration always benefits immigrants. No one picks up and leaves one country for another – legally or illegally – unless it serves some very substantial self-interest.
But what the bishops and many other sincere people consistently overlook is the impact that mass immigration has on the lives of many millions of their fellow Americans. Mass immigration, legal and illegal, affects people’s jobs, their ability to command a living wage, their children’s educations, their tax dollars, the nation’s environment – in short, everything that is important to them.
In reality, what the bishops and other religious leaders are advocating is not charity. There is no moral, ethical, or religious code that allows one to be charitable with other people’s resources. The parish priest in the pulpit cannot be charitable with the construction worker in the pew’s job. He cannot ask the woman in the church choir to sacrifice the ability of her children to get a quality education when those kids find themselves in overcrowded classrooms, where half the kids don’t speak English.
The Catholic Church is right to be concerned about the plight of those who want nothing more than a better life for themselves and their kids. Fortunately, the Church is uniquely positioned to be a force for positive change. The majority of illegal aliens and prospective migrants hail from countries in which the Catholic Church is a powerful force and a voice of moral authority. Perhaps no entity could be as influential in bringing about much needed social, economic and political reform in the Latin American countries that are the source of so much out-migration.
The Catholic bishops have no moral authority to impoverish or disadvantage people in this country to benefit people who have broken our laws. They have all the moral authority of the Bible to use their influence and considerable financial resources to affect change in countries that ignore the most basic interests of their citizens. In doing so, they might not only exhibit “goodwill toward men,” but would go a long way toward fulfilling the ultimate goal of “peace on Earth.”