June 10, 2016

Be Our Guest / Mark Gasper

Reader says editorial offers word games, semantics that confuse faithful Catholics

I don’t understand what has happened to my Catholic Church. I truly don’t. I’m not a perfect person, just a sinner working toward a place in heaven through the grace of God.

I was taught from childhood to love God, to obey the law, to show charity toward others. I believe in charity. I also believe in obeying the law—all laws.

In the May 27 issue of The Criterion, Editor Emeritus John F. Fink made numerous assertions regarding the contentious subject of “illegal aliens”—his words—in his editorial.

According to any interpretation or definition of the word “illegal,” the word is synonymous with “against the law.” I don’t understand why something that is against the law, or someone doing it, can be a source of confusion or multiple interpretations.

It seems that Fink is asking Catholics to apply a selective application of the law in some instances, or to turn a blind eye in other instances. He also wants to change the word “illegal” to “unauthorized.”

As a law-abiding Catholic, I am confused as to how to view such games of semantics. Am I now allowed to pick and choose which activities I consider “illegal,” which I consider “unauthorized” and which I consider “justified”? Would someone with heavenly insight please explain?

Here are verbatim extracts from Fink’s editorial, not interpretations of his meaning or his words—these are his actual words. I ask all people of faith, Catholics and otherwise, to decide their level of comfort or outrage at his assertions:

  1. “The number of unauthorized immigrants in the United States … leveled off to 11.3 million in 2014.”
  2. “The Mexican unauthorized immigrant population … has declined … to 5.6 million in 2014.”
  3. “ … for more Hispanics to enter this country legally. Right now, it’s nearly impossible because quotas fill up so quickly, and the usual wait is 10 years. Would you wait that long?”
  4. “Should there be a ‘national law enforcement effort to deport’ all immigrants here illegally? … 17 percent of the public favored such an effort.”
  5. “Unauthorized immigrants make up … 5.1 percent of the U.S. labor force.”

One might consider such facts from Fink as being damning for anyone who is in favor of condoning and encouraging further illegal immigration. But he chooses to treat these facts lightly, and to condemn those who oppose further illegal immigration. Is this how we were taught? Is this how our Lord and Savior taught us? Are we to obey the laws which are convenient, and ignore those which are not? Are we to base our actions on polls, opinions, editorials and word games?

I need to know. Catholics need to know. We also need to stand up for what is dogmatically right, and not for an ad hominem attack on a person or group because they hold a different constitutionally protected viewpoint.

(Mark Gasper is a member of St. Mark the Evangelist Parish in Indianapolis.)

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