Support for allowing Title 42 to expire has come from several Catholic prelates. This is somewhat inconsistent coming from bishops, who like Seitz, closed down their churches and withdrew the Sacraments from their congregations, preventing even Extreme Unction from the aged and infirm.
In June of 2019 Roman Catholic Bishop of El Paso, Mark Seitz, personally accompanied across the border seven immigrants who had previously been denied asylum. Bishop Seitz then had some words for his country.
“This government and this society are not well.”…“We suffer from a life-threatening case of hardening of the heart.”
Describing Mexico, and Ciudad Juarez in particular, he had less than flattering comments. “Every day, the US is sending up to 300 asylum seekers to one of the most dangerous places in Mexico with nothing and no one to help them.” He decried the Remain in Mexico program, which requires asylum seekers to wait in Mexico where “inhumane and unsafe conditions” often prevail. Bishop Seitz does not criticize or diagnose who or what is responsible for the reprehensible conditions south of the border. After remarking on the condition of Mexico, he saved his most pointed criticisms for his home as he began to “diagnose the soul of our country.”
“We have found a new acceptable group to treat as less than human…Would we rather they die on the banks of the Rio Grande than trouble us with their presence?” Seitz’s vision of America is harsh. Indeed, it is surprising that so many people are still interested in coming.
Again, Bishop Seitz has waded into political waters. This time, Breitbart reports, as chairman of the US Bishops’ Committee on Migration. This week he has written a letter criticizing a new piece of border-securing legislation. Writing about the “harmful measures” in the proposed Secure the Border Act, Seitz raises concerns about the bill, which he claims endangers unaccompanied children and hampers access to asylum while adding removal practices and border wall funding, which he has long opposed.
What is difficult to get past is the irresponsibility, myopia, and gall of Bishop Seitz to criticize the most generous country in history while the country is facing financial, medical, and infrastructure crises. Further, one struggles to remember a time in recent memory when race relations were more bitter. There is simply no metric to which the Bishop can point which suggests that this country is prepared for greater immigration. Moreover, with the pandemic era Title 42 coming to an end later this month, Customs and Border Protection are pointing to record-high apprehensions, with some estimates that there are no less than 900,000 border crossers in columns on the way. That is greater than the populations of five states: Wyoming, Vermont, Alaska, or the Dakotas.
Title 42 was an order put in place by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to limit migration from countries experiencing spikes in contagious diseases. According to CDC, it was a necessary step to reduce the spread of Covid-19. The expiration of Title 42 on May 11 throws the country to potential exposure when we are just reclaiming our lives. Support for allowing Title 42 to expire has come from several Catholic prelates. This is somewhat inconsistent coming from bishops, who like Seitz, closed down their churches and withdrew the Sacraments from their congregations, preventing even Extreme Unction from the aged and infirm.
Consider a couple of questions that the activist Bishop has spurred: Why not mention the causes of crime and corruption rampant in our southern neighbors and offer missionary help to improve those inhumane conditions for people? Do Mexico or the parents of the unaccompanied children who have been abandoned or entrusted to a Coyote bear any of the responsibility for the situation at the border?
To be clear, this is the civic ring into which the bishop has opted to enter. It’s one that the Church has vaguely left to politicians. According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church (no 2241), “Political authorities, for the sake of the common good for which they are responsible, may make the exercise of the right to immigrate subject to various juridical conditions, especially with regard to the immigrants’ duties toward their country of adoption. Immigrants are obliged to respect with gratitude the material and spiritual heritage of the country that received them, to obey its laws, and to assist in carrying civic burdens.”
In layman’s terms, this verse says that immigrants should obey the law (presumably even immigration laws) and that a sovereign country has the right to meter immigration when necessary. Holding those positions is not inherently or objectively evil. On prudential matters, men of good will may disagree.
One issue for Catholics, that up until now has not been left open for prudential judgment is abortion. It presents an interesting comparison. For his entire tenure in Congress, former Congressman and presidential candidate Robert Francis (Beto) O’Rourke has represented El Paso, which is Bishop Seitz’s Diocese. Robert Francis earned a perfect NARAL Pro-Choice Rating of 100% in his final three years in office. In separate interviews during O’Rourke’s failed 2022 Gubernatorial bid, both O’Rourke and Seitz told columnist Christopher Manion that the two had never spoken about abortion and that O’Rourke has never been corrected publicly or privately for his 100% support for abortion. Final question for His Excellency: in comparison to tearing apart families at the border as you fear, is tearing apart babies equally hard-hearted?
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