The Corner

Wisdom from the Pews

My posting this morning on the fading prospects for amnesty mentioned the Roman Catholic hierarchy’s lobbying push, which included instructions that Sunday’s sermons were to have focused on immigration. No one I’ve heard from, at parishes around the country, heard a sermon on immigration or even saw a letter from their bishop on it in their church bulletins.

But there were some places where it came up. Today’s Boston Globe’s ran a story on the homiletic lobbying campaign, including one mass where the celebrant “told the parishioners to call their congressmen or the White House and speak their minds about immigration laws.”

The story included this dissent from one of those parishioners:

However, Jose Martinez of East Boston, who came here from El Salvador about 20 years ago, said he believes the church is a place for prayer, not activism.

“You can’t mix politics with Christian life,” said Martinez, who attended Most Holy Redeemer’s 10 a.m. English-language Mass, which was presided by the Rev. Thomas Domurat. “Jesus Christ is Jesus Christ, and lay-life is lay-life. You can’t mix one thing with another; everything has a time.”

It’s a little more complicated than this, of course; our religious beliefs will shape our approach to many political issues. But immigration is a contingent matter, like farm subsidies or telecom regulation, where prudential judgment is key, rather than black-or-white moral pronouncements. And in that context this rank-and-file believer is wiser than the lobbyist priests (and lobbyist ministers) who denounce their opponents as immoral.

Mark Krikorian, a nationally recognized expert on immigration issues, has served as Executive Director of the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) since 1995.

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