Separating Families at the Border Is the Worst Crisis Ever…

…until the next Worst Crisis Ever.

I’ve avoided reading much on the illegal immigration situation occurring along the Mexico border. Mostly because it’s been difficult finding commentary not steeped in hyperbole, rhetoric, emotional manipulation, or biased opinions, where the writer comes across as a pompous, preachy jerk. You’ve read such posts and comments, so you know what I’m saying.

Some early commentary came off as attempts to get ahead of the story, which meant many – but not all – were also ahead of the facts. This is a complex situation with many moving parts, and few of us have enough information to make reasonable arguments. It hasn’t stopped unreasonable arguments from being made, though. Comparisons to Nazi Germany cheapen the horror of the Holocaust. Shouting “Abortion separates a baby from its mother, too!” denigrates the dignity and humanity of the immigrants, and distracts from the immediate issue. Yes, abortion is intrinsically evil, but for goodness sake, the comparison neither advances the argument nor addresses the problem.

The recently signed Executive Order won’t change anything, either. Politicians will still point fingers, and there will be even more hyperbole and rhetoric. I’ve seen some writers basically say, that if you don’t care about this as deeply as I do, you’re a rotten person, and not really pro-life. I’m pretty sure insults aren’t helpful, but hey, people can get hysterical, which leads to hysterical writing. It happens. I’ve found it helps to remember that hysteria is not a fruit of the Holy Spirit.

Which is why I was glad to read Fr Jonathon Morris’ post he shared on Facebook yesterday. It’s anything but hysterical. His isn’t the only reasoned, cogent, thoughtful post out there, but it resonated with me. I encourage you to read the entire thing, but here are the first and final two paragraphs:

Someone recently wrote me expressing dismay that he is being shamed by religious leaders, like the US Catholic bishops, and many others (including myself) for not being in favor of “illegal” immigration. “I am for LEGAL immigration”, he said, but not for anything “ILLEGAL”.

Allow me to share with you part of my response to him. Keep in mind I don’t write this from the comfort of a professor’s desk or as a politician seeking votes. This is my perspective as a pastor in the Bronx, New York where everyday I encounter the good and the bad of our immigrant communities.


I am not a politician so it is not my job to draft, propose, and pass the urgently needed immigration reform legislation I have lobbied for in this column. I do know, however, that whatever they come up with, if it is to be big and bold action, must decrease the incentive of illegal crossing and vastly increase the possibility of legal crossing, and legal employment, especially through temporary work permits. A federal e-verify system is a necessary component to this. Warning….any politician who rejects an e-verify system is telling us he or she is not really interested in solving the crisis.

Now I will go back to taking care of the people in my neighborhood, both the American citizens and the many new and old immigrants, here legally or not. That’s the moral mandate for a pastor. Let’s pray that our politicians will fulfill their moral and political mandate, for the good of all.

Fr Morris’ final paragraph nails it. We need to “go back to taking care of the people in (our) neighborhood”. Work in the field where God has you. If your field involves helping immigrants through various charities and resource groups, then God bless you. You are doing difficult work. If you believe God’s calling you to actively, directly help, that He wants you on that border – then follow His call to where it leads. Become that saint.

For the rest of us, though? Here’s my opinion, for what it’s worth. First of all, pray. It’s our first responsibility, and our greatest recourse. As Fr Morris wrote, Let’s pray that our politicians will fulfill their moral and political mandate, for the good of all.” Pray for everyone involved, that God guide, protect, and preserve them.

Secondly, just because you have an opinion, doesn’t mean you have to say it. It’s always better to stay quiet and let people think you’re ignorant, than to write something that removes all doubt.

Thirdly, know and understand Church teaching, and if asked to explain it, do so charitably. Always and without exception. If you don’t know what the Church teaches, rely on authoritative sources, like the Catechism and Church documents. Twitter is not authoritative.

Finally, social media has made the world so immediate and urgent, the needy neighbor outside our door risks being displaced. It’s turned every crisis into The Worst Crisis Ever – until the next Worst Crisis Ever happens. At which point the previous Worst Crisis Ever is forgotten and ignored. Ricocheting from crisis to crisis isn’t how the Christian life works. That’s just stupid.

I bet when St Damien cared for lepers in Molokai, he didn’t criticize US economic policy during the 1893 depression, or rail against the Spanish-American War. I bet when Blessed Solanus Casey ministered to the poor in 1950’s Detroit, he didn’t protest the Korean War. They worked in the fields where God placed them, doing His will.

The same goes for us. Work in the field where God has you. It will give you peace, it will save your sanity, those you serve will be better for it, and you won’t come across as a pompous, preachy jerk. That’s good for everyone.

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Former Football Player Set to Kick Off New Life as a Nun

Need an uplifting story for your Monday? Check out this video of a former football player who, upon finishing her career in Detroit, is about to profess her final vows, becoming a Franciscan Sister.

That’s not a typo. She really did play football, in the early 2000’s in a now-defunct women’s professional football league.

The Detroit Free Press ran a cover story in Sunday’s Sports section.

In March 2007, Yoches experienced what she says was her “call to religious life.” The moment happened while she was praying with someone else. Inexplicably, she says she felt the presence of the Holy Spirit and knew she had to dedicate the rest of her life to God.

She broke up with her boyfriend that night.

She told her parents and her two siblings, all of whom were supportive.

She told friends and co-workers, all of whom were taken aback.

“I lived a crazy wild party life before I converted,” Yoches said. “I kept my faith to myself before all of this, so people were very surprised that this was really who and what I wanted to do and be.”

God works in amazing ways. It doesn’t matter what you’ve done, where you’ve been, or who you are. He calls each one of us to Himself, and if we’re courageous enough to listen and respond, our lives will have greater depth and meaning and purpose. Our life’s trajectory will lead us to places undreamt of, and we’ll experience joy, contentment, and peace the world is incapable of providing.

I’m reminded of a line from Sherry Weddell’s Forming Intentional Disciples: “Simon, the fisherman, before his meeting with Christ, however thoroughly he might have searched within himself, could not possibly have found a trace of Peter.” Sister Yoches, I’m sure, can definitely relate.

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Newsweek: Church Imposes Purgatory as a Punishment

Chalk this up as another Great Moment in Religious Reporting.

Newsweek (they’re still in business?) ran a story covering the USCCB Spring Meeting, during which Bishop Weisenburger of Arizona suggested that Catholics who assist in the Trump’s administration immigration policy of separating children from their parents be subjected to ‘canonical penalties’. The writer, in an effort to be helpful, I’m sure, included a definition of canonical penalty:

“A canonical penalty is defined as a punishment imposed by the church, which could include purgatory or excommunication. Catholic church laws are outlined in the Code of Canon law, a system of laws for regulation within the church.”

Um, dude. The Church doesn’t have the authority or power to punish Catholics with Purgatory. You gotta be dead to enter purgatory – your local DMV or Verizon store doesn’t qualify. And once you’re dead, the Church can’t do nothin’. Purgatory is a state or condition of temporal punishment for those who, after death, are not entirely free of attachment to sin, and must be purged of all imperfections before reaching heaven. It’s where most Catholic bloggers are gonna end up.

I suppose it’s too much to ask a Newsweek reporter to understand Purgatory, though, when most Catholics probably don’t understand it either, based on how Catholic funerals tend to be unofficial canonizations. Still, he would’ve done himself and his reader a favor had he consulted a Catholic encyclopedia for his definition, and not a citation from the USLegal website.

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Bishop Proposes ‘Canonical Penalties’ for Catholics Who Remove Kids from Parents for Children’s Liturgy

[ACMPress] – FT LAUDERDALE, FL – An unidentified US bishop suggested that penalties be put in place for Catholics who help carry out any parish’s Worship Committee policy of separating families during Mass, when children are removed from the congregation for the Liturgy of the Word. He presented the recommendation while speaking Wednesday at the annual spring meeting of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

“Canonical penalties are there in place to heal, not punish,” he said, according to ACMPress. “And therefore, for the good and well-being of these people’s souls, it’s time we take a look at canonical penalties.”

A canonical penalty is defined as a punishment imposed by the church, which could include excommunication. Catholic church laws are outlined in its Code of Canon law.

Others joined the bishop in denouncement of Children’s Liturgy policies, which have been popular since the Second Vatican Council. The unnamed bishop read a statement at the event. “The Church has the discretion in our laws to ensure that young children are not separated from their parents and exposed to irreparable harm and trauma that the Spirit of Vatican II inflicts. Families are the foundational element of our society, and they must be allowed to pray together throughout the entirety of the Mass,” he said. “Separating babies from their mothers during the Liturgy of the Word is not the answer and is immoral.”

The USCCB is not expected to issue a similar statement recommending ‘canonical penalties’ for Catholic pro-abortion politicians.

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