05-30-2005, 11:50 AM

By: Robert Klein Engler RightConservative

(CHICAGO--29 May '05) Lost amid all the reams of paper, stacks of videos and bites in e-space about President Fox's view of African-American workers is a more troublesome comment coming from an overlooked source. reports that "Even Cardinal Norberto Rivera Carrera, the archbishop of Mexico City, criticized U. S. immigration policy as ridiculous and defended Fox's comments, saying: "The declaration had nothing to do with racism. It is a reality in the United States that anyone can prove."

That's not the whole of Cardinal Carrera's comments about immigration. He also has criticized the United States for "xenophobic attitudes" toward Mexican immigrants, calling it inconsistent to promote international free trade but refuse to let people cross the border for the basic human right to work. "Just as the borders are open to merchandise, that is all the more reason that the borders should be open to the human being," said the Cardinal.

Why is the archbishop of Mexico City getting involved in the illegal immigration dispute between Mexico and the United States and defending President Fox and his remarks. Does this mean there is a line we can follow from the Vatican, through the barrios of Chicago, past the Arizona desert and Mexico's president Fox to the Cardinal?

Cardinal Norberto Rivera Carrera of Mexico City is the spiritual leader of the world's largest Roman Catholic diocese. Cardinal Rivera has more than 7 million Catholics in his care. The Catholic News Service maintains that the archdiocese of Mexico City averages about 150,000 baptisms a year--more than the entire Catholic population in many dioceses around the world. You'd think with all these baptisms the Cardinal would be too busy and stay out of the illegal immigration debate. There must be a reason why he sides with illegal immigrants and wants an invasion of Mexicans into the U. S.

Catholic News Service says that since he became archbishop of Mexico City in 1995 he has been in the news often, speaking on a wide range of social issues. To his credit, he has criticized Mexico's drug cartel and government corruption and its complicity in the drug trade on numerous occasions.

But when the U. S. ambassador took Mexico to task for ineffective enforcement of drug laws, he issued a rebuke. "I don't think the United States has the moral authority to criticize us," he said. "They, too, suffer from this problem and haven't been able to solve it."

Placing the blame elsewhere does not solve the Mexican drug problem. Nor does disrespect for our national sovereignty solve the immigration problem. Certainly Cardinal Carrera must know that all Catholics are encouraged to follow the laws of the country where they live. Also, he must understand that the suffering of the poor in Mexico cannot be solved by encouraging them to flee to another culture and work for slave wages. Mexico's social problems must be solved in Mexico, not in the U. S. by illegal immigrants.

Could there be political reasons why Cardinal Carrera and even the Vatican would like to see an invasion of poor Mexicans to the United States? I have not talked with representatives from the Vatican, but I can surmise that there might be such reasons. The war in Iraq and the issue of American secularism and abortion may be some of them.

In January 2003, as U. S. and British forces were preparing to invade Iraq, Cardinal Carrera joined Pope John Paul II in criticizing the invasion plans. "There does not have to be a war. It would be a disgrace to humanity if we go down this path," the Cardinal said. What better way to make this point than to send millions of illegal immigrants from Mexico across the U. S. border to say it over again in Spanish.

Abortion politics may also motivate Cardinal Carrera to support Mexico's President Fox in his Northern Strategy. It is no secret that the Catholic Church wants to take on the secularism of North America and would like to see Roe v Wade overturned. What better way to do that than increase the number of Catholics living in the United States and involve them in the political process. Illegal immigrants from Mexico can be the foot soldiers for the Vatican foreign policy of defeating both secularism and legalized abortion. Indeed there is a line that runs from Chicago through the Mexican border to Vatican City.

Cardinal Carrera should be reminded that it is a principle of Thomistic theology that both the family and the state are natural and necessary for our earthly happiness. Respect for the family means respect for marriage and respect for the state means respect for its laws and borders. Furthermore, respect for the culture of indigenous peoples is no different from respect for the unique culture of those living in the United States. It is hard to imagine how following Thomistic theology we can justify illegal immigration or in the Cardinal's words, "that the borders should be open..."

Although Cardinal Carrera is in favor of national unity when it comes to things Mexican, he seems not to be in favor of national unity when it comes to the U. S. protecting its borders. During the 1995 rebellion in Chiapas he made a plea for national unity and worried that Mexico might run the risk of coming apart, but when the U. S. decides on the national unity that comes with the enforcement of its immigration laws, he opposes such an effort.

The tone of the illegal immigration debate in the U. S. will change if Vatican politics meddles in it. None of this meddling will help the poor of Mexico find jobs or gain a living wage in their own country. Nor will it force Mexico to come to grips with its growing population problem, perhaps the most important underlying cause for poverty and unemployment there. The violation of U. S. immigration laws is not the way to Cardinal Carrera's goal of social justice.

Robert Klein Engler lives in Chicago. He is an adjunct professor at Roosevelt University. His book, A WINTER OF WORDS, about the ethnic cleansing at Daley College, is available from

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