« Vocal opposition to SAVE is urgently needed! | Main | Metro traffic stops lead to most deportations »

April 22, 2008

Pope Speaks Up for Immigrants, Touching a Nerve

By DANIEL J. WAKIN and JULIA PRESTON
April 20, 2008
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/20/us/20catholics.html

"Even as he was flying to the United States, Pope Benedict XVI spoke of protecting immigrant families, not dividing them.

He raised the issue again in a meeting on Wednesday with President Bush, and later that day spoke in Spanish to the church’s “many immigrant children.” And when he ends his visit to New York on Sunday, he will be sent off by a throng of the faithful, showing off the ethnic diversity of American Catholicism.

The choreography underscores the importance to the church here of its growing diversity — especially its increasing Hispanic membership.

Of the nation’s 65 million Roman Catholics, 18 million are Latino, according to the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, and they account for more than two-thirds of the new Catholics in the country since 1960.

Millions of other recent arrivals come from Asia and Africa. More and more parishes depend on priests brought from abroad to serve the flock.

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.

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.”

On the other side of the issue, some members of the Catholic hierarchy said they were shocked that on the same day that Benedict and President Bush affirmed in a joint statement the need for a policy that treats immigrants humanely and protects their families, federal agents were conducting raids at five chicken plants. They arrested more than 300 immigrants accused of being illegal workers.

The timing was coincidental, immigration officials said, and it was not clear whether the pope had known about the arrests when he met with Mr. Bush.

But the raids surprised some American Catholic leaders, who are often on the forefront of advocacy for immigrant rights...".

Posted by VisaLawyer at April 22, 2008 09:51 AM

Comments

Post a comment




Remember Me?

(you may use HTML tags for style)