Tancredo vs. Benedict
From today’s New York Times article
about the pope and U.S. immigration:
Benedict has calibrated his immigration stance with care, stating the need to protect family unity and immigrants’ human rights, but pointedly avoiding any specifics of the American immigration debate, like the issue of whether to grant legal status to illegal immigrants. Yet last week his visit quickly stirred the crosscurrents of the debate.
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His comments drew a rebuke from Representative Tom Tancredo, a Republican from Colorado who has been a leading opponent of illegal immigration.
Accusing the pope of “faith-based marketing,” Mr. Tancredo said Benedict’s comments welcoming immigrants “may have less to do with spreading the Gospel than they do about recruiting new members of the Church.” Mr. Tancredo, a former Catholic who now attends an evangelical Christian church, said it was not in the pope’s “job description to engage in American politics.”
Brandon F. writes:
I lost a lot of respect for Tancredo after hearing his disrespectful and opportunistic remarks. Although I agree with him in principle on his immigration position, I thought his language was not only grossly inappropriate in light of the significance of the Pope’s visit but also an immature, slimy remark about a man who deserves nothing but deference and respect; a man who’s position should be nothing but compassion and love.
Mr. Tancredo took a low blow and did it in such a vile and public way that I will no longer give him any moral support. Since he is a former Catholic I am sure some of the impetus for his remarks are rooted in some kind of disdain for the Church in general.
I was listening to National Public Radio on Friday and thought, although their positions are contrary and sometimes hostile to the Pope, they were nonetheless respectful and at times reverential. It’s too bad Tancredo didn’t have the same deference and sense enough to keep his mouth shut.
Reckless words pierce like a sword,
but the tongue of the wise brings healing.
I just saw the bit about Tancredo that I quoted from the Times story, and it didn’t seem out of the ordinary or disrespectful. I’ve said vastly more critical things about both popes many times at VFR. What did Tancredo say that was low, vile, immature, and slimy?
Suggesting that Pope Benedict’s true reasons for his advocacy for illegals is a need for filling the pews is the low blow. Coming from a Congressman on the floor of the House of Representatives, which was the report I heard on a radio news report, is a much different thing than a blogger giving his opinion on a web site. No man is above reproach or critique but some tact and wisdom under certain circumstances is a must.
If the church pews are empty then we shouldn’t criticize the people filling them. We should examine the reasons why people are leaving them.
But, in all fairness, that has been a standard criticism of the Church’s immigration policy for many years. Immigration skeptics have said innumerable times that the Church favors Hispanic immigration in order to Catholicize the U.S., that they care more about increasing the number of Catholics in the U.S. than they do about America’s well-being, sovereignty, and survival as a nation. Church leaders have as much as said the same about their own motives. All you have to do is read the joint statement on immigration by the American and Mexican bishops, quoted approvingly by Mary Ann Glendon in an appalling article in First Things two years ago.
And this goes back further, to the original resistance to Catholics in America in the 19th century. That resistance was based on the view that Catholics will be more loyal to the Pope than to America. Over time, Catholics became accepted in America by “protestantizing” themselves, i.e., turning themselves into one denomination among others, and so becoming patriotic Americans and part of the American “thing.” But, as with every other minority or diverse group in the post-sixties world, now that the national/majority culture has given up its own legitimacy, the groups that formerly deferred to the majority culture are now returning to their “pre-assimilation” mode and asserting their respective group identities against America. And why shouldn’t they seek their own group agenda over all else, given that America doesn’t stand for anything any more accept diversity?
Brandon F. writes: “I thought his language was not only grossly inappropriate in light of the significance of the Pope’s visit but also an immature, slimy remark about a man who deserves nothing but deference and respect; a man who’s position should be nothing but compassion and love.”
Pope Benedict has decided to take sides in U.S. domestic politics. “Protect family unity” looks like a coded version of “family reunification,” a major immigration issue. A woman in the U.S. illegally gives birth to a child. That child is automatically a U.S. citizen. “Family reunification” then takes effect, with the mother now allowed to stay in the U.S., then her relatives “reunify” by coming to the U.S. as well. Chain immigration then ensues. Catholic spokespersons all along the U.S.-Mexican border have endorsed all manner of “services” for illegal aliens, all aimed at keeping them in the U.S. as long as possible.
Again, Benedict has chosen a side in U.S. domestic politics. For Brandon F. to declare him off limits for any criticism simply won’t do; we do not give other foreign leaders a free pass when they decide to meddle in U.S. affairs, and I fail to see why Benedict should get one.
As for NPR, they are infamous for their inconsistency. When the U.S. Catholic Bishops talk about abortion, NPR has no time for them. But when the Bishops endorse economic redistribution or other liberal causes, NPR suddenly has strange new respect for them. No doubt their reverence for Benedict has rather a lot to do with his choosing sides in U.S. immigration politics as well as addressing the United Nations.
I agree that Pope Benedict’s position should be nothing but compassion and love. However, that isn’t the case. He’s decided to meddle in U.S. politics, and that gives Rep. Tancredo full authority to criticize him.
Vincent Chiarello writes:
On the whole, I was not surprised, but disappointed: I thought he would come down harder on the non-Catholic Catholic colleges and universities. He also repeated—foolishly—the claptrap about the violence done to immigrants, which is totally untrue, and the Vatican knows this. Still, he is our best hope in revisions of the liturgy, and Traditional Catholics have no where else to go.
What especially gets me is the constant line about “protecting” immigrants. The liberal paradigm is that humanity consists of helpless victims in need of unending “protection.” Or maybe a better analogy is infants. Humanity, or rather, poor, non-Western humanity, is one vast infant needing our unconditional love and protection. That’s the image that comes to mind when you hear the pope talk.
Vincent Chiarello writes:
We agree on most matters regarding the decline of the Church, including its newly discovered post-Vatican II role as Defender, not of the Faith, but of individuals who are the victims, real or perceived, of human rights violations, and its extolling the glories of multiculturalism. Where we differ is in the areas where Church doctrine is silent, but the interpretation by the Church’s current hierarchy of many of those newly acquired responsibilities is questionable, especially in the light of Tradition. That is why when the pope and/or the hierarchy expand the Church’s role into “terra incognita” beyond the Deposit of Faith, the Church allows people like me to exercise “prudential judgment” and, if necessary, disagree with the actions of the Vicar of Christ. I believe, as I am sure you and Signor Tancredo also do, that a papal announcement requiring humane treatment for immigrants, including illegal aliens, may be admirable, but one of those areas where my prudential judgment allows me to disagree with the pontiff.
As disappointing as Benedict’s visit to these shores has been to many, which is understandable, one important aspect of his pontificate—at least to date—shows some chance of a return to the Tradition in an area that his two predecessor abandoned: the liturgy. That is may not be enough to cancel many of the practices that are seen as “throwing … Church under the bus,” but we can only play with the cards we are dealt from God.
Finally a point of clarification: Ortelio’s comment about the British pre-Reformation Church’s use of the “various “Rites,” the “Sarum (Salisbury) Rite”—more accurately, the Sarum Use—being the most widely practiced, was allowed as part of the recognition of the Anglo-Saxon conversion to Christianity in Britain. With the Norman Conquest, however, these mentioned “Rites” were steadily changed in order to follow the Roman ritual as much as possible. All of these “Rites” became moot after the Council of Trent basically codified the Mass. Even Mary Tudor’s attempt to resuscitate the Sarum Use was unsuccessful. But all did not disappear. If memory serves, Cranmer used some of the language of the Rites of the Sarum Use in the First Book of Common Prayer.
Ray G. writes from Dearborn, Michigan:
Perhaps Tancredo didn’t need to say anything about the Pope’s rather routine statements about immigration or “migrant’s rights” but nevertheless, Tanc is correct to point out how (especially in Los Angeles), the Church is heavily involved in petitioning for leniency with respect to illegal aliens. Church leaders seem to have forgotten—“Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s and unto God, that which is God’s.” Just civil authorities need to be respected too and immigration law is passed by the legitimate representatives of the American people and we expect said laws to be enforced, without regard to ethnic preferences, i.e., Mexicans/Latinos.
Vatican City has borders, laws and rules but apparently, Americans are expected not to have any such things and continuously allow millions and millions of people to “migrate” here illegally—use fake or stolen ID’s, commit social security fraud, evade income tax, drive without a license, etc., less we be called xenophobes, bigots and nativists. Ooh, scary words.
Remember, if all illegal immigration were stopped tomorrow, the U.S. would still allow more immigrants each year than all other nations in the world combined, each and every year.
Mark Jaws writes:
As a loyal Catholic of Jewish ancestry and inflicted with the Ashkenazic penchant for study and contentious contemplation, I have read the Catechism of the Catholic Church three times in the past six years and have often reflected on the duties of the Christian citizen living in a secular democracy.
Here is what the Catholic Catechism (paragraph 2241) has to say about illegal immigration:
The more prosperous nations are obliged , to the extent they are able, to welcome the foreigner in search of the security and the means of livelihood which he cannot find in his country of origin … 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.
It was then Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, who headed the Interdicasterial Commission for the most recent edition of the Catechism, so I am somewhat confused about his stance on illegal immigration as Pope Benedict. It is no wonder, then, that the Church doctrine of papal infallibility is confined to matters of faith and morals—and does not include immigration policies of sovereign nations.
Sage McLaughlin writes:
I think it’s entirely appropriate for Tancredo to criticize the Pope—it is his job, after all. But where I think the Tancredo goes off the tracks—and the reason I think some personal anti-clerical animus could be at work here—is when he says that such commentary is not in the Pope’s “job description.” I doubt very much that Sen. Tancredo would have said the same thing if the Pope’s comments had addressed, say, the sanctity of human life or the affront to reason that is homosexual “marriage.” These are both political issues, but they are also social and moral issues of the most profound significance. We are not speaking here of the design of the flag or the exact date of a federal holiday, which would both be well beyond the appropriate bounds of Papal opinion.
I happen to think the Catholic hierarchy here and in Europe is simply wrong in its advocacy of open borders, but the Pope did not actually advocate any particular policy. He spoke to some of the ethical issues at stake, and it’s pretty clear where he winds up coming down on those ethical issues, but only because we already know from past statements of his what his position is on such matters. Yes, there were “echoes” of family re-unification and all that nonsense, but it actually is in the Pope’s job description to speak to what he thinks are relevant moral concerns. For Tancredo to say that such musings are somehow meddlesome and beyond the purview of the head of the Catholic Church is simply going too far. It suggests that he probably believes that it is the Papacy itself, and its presumption of authority, which is illegitimate. That’s the Protestant view, but he ought to acknowledge that his objection is based on ecclesiology.
To what, after all, must the Pope confine his remarks, if he is not to touch on anything which might contain an echo of a shadow of a policy? My guess is that, while it might have something to do with the fact that he is an apostate, it is just as likely that Tancredo’s hackles were so raised by this because it’s his pet issue and he doesn’t want foreign spiritual leaders making his job any harder. If the statements came from any foreign dignitary whatsoever, he might say something similar, but in this narrow instance I think he’s wrong to declare such statements outside the legitimate sphere of that leader’s authority. Benedict is the Vicar of Christ, not the head of the Panamanian consulate, after all.
That’s the way the issue strikes me at nine o’clock on Monday morning, anyway, and I could be missing something big.
This is a rather odd article:
As far as I can tell from the quotes of what Benedict actually said, he was saying that it would be best for Mexicanos to stay in México Lindo, but that in any case everybody should work to try to keep their families together; but the reporters and all those except Tancredo whom they turn to for a response, are whooping it up as if he had been channelling the WSJ, La Raza, and Tamar Jacoby all at once.
Cardinal Mahony of Lost Angeles, by the way, should really be in prison for years of aiding and abetting child abuse. If he weren’t a shameless psychopath he would by now have taken a vow of silence and retired to a monastery in the desert—but, of course, instead here he is crowing to the Times how the Holy Father favors even more illegals to pluck chickens at Pilgrims Pride (and no doubt to fill Mahony’s pews with more choir boys.)
You wrote: “… now that the national/majority culture has given up its own legitimacy in the name of universalism,”
Exactly. This discussion leads me to ask: What is it we want to defend? Is Tancredo’s criticizing the Pope going to wake people up to our civilizational suicide? Are tough immigration laws going to inspire white Americans to start to explore and get serious about their identity? The answer is no. Traditionalist intellectuals will rightfully continue to decry to decline of Western Civilization. Demagoguing politicians will continue to propose tough laws. And the white hoi polloi will continue swilling beer, divorcing, partying, having abortions, and neglecting to acknowledge the Divine.
I honestly believe we are at the end of an age. Of course people like you should continue sounding the alarm in order to save some people. But there is no stopping the rot. Arrogant politicians criticizing a man of God will do nothing but make those same politicians, and the people who support them and their views, appear as fools.
Adela Gereth writes:
You write: “Well, but he does speak about Jesus Christ wherever he goes.”
True—but in what context? From the little I heard of his speech (I don’t even recall which one), he seems more focused on an “everybody play nice!” approach to human rights rather than the duty of Christians everywhere to show they follow the transcendent example of Christ by their treatment of their fellow man.
It’s as though Jesus has become a secularized role model for being a “good person” rather than exemplifying the sacrifices required of us by God and the sacred love He has for us.
I wouldn’t be surprised if the Pope said, “Let the little children come unto me” and then passed these out to the kidlets. http://timswine.com/blogart2/soccer2.jpg
Rachael S. writes:
It would be all right for Mr. Ratzinger to meddle in our politics if he advocated that the immigrants go home to their own countries and be Catholic there; that they enrich their countries of origin with their own labor, that they bring their children up in their own traditions without invading other people’s cultures and countries, that they stop enabling American cultural laziness, that they stop stealing jobs from the American working class, that they agitate to change their own governments for the better…. I could go on all day with the ways that the illegal aliens are being un-Catholic by coming here. Mr. Ratzinger is not preaching Catholicism, but the social “gospel” of the U.N. and the New World Order. -Rachael S.
Adela G. writes:
Brandon writes: “No man is above reproach or critique but some tact and wisdom under certain circumstances is a must.”
Posted by Lawrence Auster at April 20, 2008 12:33 PM | Send
Indeed. I question the tact and wisdom of any dignitary who visits a country and weighs in on the side of illegal immigration in such a way that shows disregard for that country’s law and national sovereignty. And that is precisely what he did when he refused to distinguish between those who come here legally and those who break our laws and breach our borders to come here for their own personal benefit.
In the Pope’s remarks I read, there was no mention of any obligation or responsibility to America on the part of immigrants, he spoke only of the need for family unity (no problem there if the illegals would just stay in their own country) and the obligations of American communities to “immigrants.”
From the NYT article Mr. Auster linked: “In Washington, Benedict encouraged the American bishops and their communities “to continue to welcome immigrants who join your ranks today, to share their joys and hopes, to support them in their sorrows and trials, and to help them flourish in their new home.””
I would not have minded if the Pope had exhorted all Catholics to show Christian charity to their brothers and sister, regardless of any disagreements among them. But to talk about the need to avoid breaking up families in a way that puts the onus of family preservation on the American government is completely out of bounds. The families of illegal immigrants would be in no danger of being broken up if they just stayed in their own country.
If the Pope makes remarks of a political and social nature, rather than confining himself to spiritual and religious matters, he and his followers should not expect that his remarks will be exempt from criticism on religious or spiritual grounds. He and they can’t have it both ways.
Besides, whatever happened to “render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s and unto God what is God’s”?