Mark: The idea that the bishops would advocate a particular position on immigration for the sake of “organizational continuity” is fairly obtuse. In fact, it’s really, really obtuse. The Catholic Church has been around for 2,000 years despite periods of massive public unbelief and even active persecution. The Pew survey isn’t about to bring it all crashing down around us.
Moreover, immigration is a real loser for the Catholic Church from a financial perspective, more than it is for other churches. You argue consistently that Hispanic immigrants are a drain on the state. Do you think they have hidden caches of gold that they plunk down on the plate every Sunday? It costs money to run their churches — money they don’t have. Catholic schools educate many thousands of students who can’t pay the full price, many of them children of illegal immigrants. And Catholic hospitals…well, you get the picture.
A much better explanation is that Catholic clergy are accustomed to dealing with scores of Hispanic immigrants — many illegal — on a daily basis, because they are Catholics and they go to Catholic churches. The priests see that they are human beings. They deal with these people’s immigration and non-immigration related problems. They visit their families. They say masses for their dead parents. They hear their confessions. Later, those priests become bishops, and they make pronouncements. It’s as simple as that.
It doesn’t mean they’re necessarily right on immigration or that they can claim expert status on the topic. But the human aspect of the issue is often more persuasive than perfectly valid objections to illegal immigration based on law and order, economics, national security, etc.
There isn’t some dark, hidden motive here, just people being people, and treating others as they’d hope to be treated in the same situation.