May 19, 2006

Be Our Guest / Lisa Dovey

Church’s support of immigration movement
is hard to swallow

I am writing to you in response to the article in the May 5 issue of The Criterion. The article, “We are all immigrants,” ended with a quote that totally blew me away.

Franciscan Father Arturo Ocampo was quoted at the end of the article saying that immigrants are the salt of the earth that keep the rest of us from rotting. He also said that they preserve us in our faith, and that they purify us.

There would have to be several assumptions for this statement to be true. First, one would have to believe that all immigrants have the good of others in the forefront. I believe we have seen from Sept. 11, 2001, that immigrants are capable of incredible evil. Immigrants are people just like the rest of us: there will be a percentage that commit crimes.

His statement that immigrants purify us “from the evil that wants to kind of creep in and just take over” is very difficult to swallow. Some of the immigrants have already broken our laws by coming in illegally. And that is supposed to purify people? I thought Christ was the only one who could purify any of us.

The other assumption is that all immigrants are Catholic, otherwise how can they preserve us in our faith? If he is speaking for all immigrants, this cannot be true because the United States has immigrants of all nationalities and faiths, many of whom are not Christian.

Yes, we are a nation of immigrants. So is Mexico. The true Native Americans were here before the Spanish or other Europeans set foot on the land of America (the United States and Mexico). Both of our countries have a shameful history of how the native peoples were and still are being treated. I wonder why the Catholic Church hasn’t taken up the cause of the true Native Americans?

If the immigrants were not Catholic, would they still be the “salt of the earth”? Would we still be purified if the immigrants were non-Christian? Would the priests still march in the streets with immigrants?

I have a very difficult time with our Catholic Church supporting a movement that encourages people to stay home from work and school. I am not convinced that the leaders of this movement nationally have the interest of the truly needy people at heart, either. My observation is that they have a different agenda that involves power and politics. Is this what the Church wants to embrace?

There is anti-American sentiment coarsing through this movement. Teenagers in California put the Mexican flag up over the U.S. flag that was flown upside down on May 1. It is very difficult as a U.S. citizen to support a movement that has a segment that is so anti-United States.

I am sure that Father Arturo is very passionate about his parishioners, and that they are undoubtedly nice people. However, not all immigrants have been good citizens.

I don’t believe that immigrants are going to purify this nation: Only by the grace of God can we be protected from evil.

(Lisa Dovey is a member of St. Pius X Parish in Indianapolis.) †


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