Immigration Reform: A Prudential Matter

imagesCAEOBDF2Catholic Vote has published a response by Carson Holloway to an article written by Archbishop Jose H. Gomez of Los Angeles concerning the current debate on the issue of immigration reform.  In Two Points On Immigration Reform, Mr. Holloway correctly points out that immigration is a prudential matter on which Catholics in good standing can differ.  He also notes that those favoring the “comprehensive immigration reform” legislation now under consideration in Congress do not have a monopoly on compassion for their neighbors, as illegal immigration can and does negatively affect the wages and prosperity of our fellow Americans, both native born and naturalized.

Mr. Holloway’s points bear repeating.  Christ’s commandment to “love thy neighbor” is doctrinal, and therefore must be followed by all Catholics.  But how we go about doing that is a prudential matter on which Catholics may disagree without violating Church teaching.  When Catholic bishops favoring the immigration reform legislation before Congress do so without noting his fact, they imply that such legislation is favored by the Church and therefore should be favored by all Catholics.  Worse, when Catholic bishops insinuate that failure to support such legislation is uncompassionate (Archbishop Gomez characterizes immigration reform as a “measure of our humanity” and a “question of human rights and dignity”), they risk scandal by implying that the entire liberal/progressive “social justice” agenda – which is constantly being advanced under the banner of compassion – should likewise be supported by Catholics.

But all items on the liberal/progressive “social justice” agenda are not equal.  Archbishop Gomez’s characterization of immigration reform as “the civil rights test of our generation” elevates immigration reform above the issue of abortion.  Yet the Church teaches that abortion is an intrinsic evil.  Abortion therefore is not a prudential matter on which Catholics may disagree; it cannot be supported.  Would that Archbishop Gomez would address the true civil rights issue of our time – abortion – by calling on Americans to overturn Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, and expressly recognize immigration reform as a matter of prudence.