Catholic Bishops to Left of Flock on Immigration

Julia Duin, Washington Times, April 18, 2006

A new poll shows U.S. Catholics, like Americans at large, oppose granting amnesty to illegal aliens, despite their bishops’ stance in favor of such a path to citizenship.

“Catholics appear to be slightly to the left of the American public at large on the issue of immigration,” said Zogby spokesman Fritz Wenzel, adding they are not as liberal as the U.S. bishops, who have issued six pastoral letters on immigration in the past 20 years.

When asked “Do you support or oppose amnesty for undocumented workers who are already in the U.S.?” 34 percent of Catholics said they support it, 49 percent oppose it and 15 percent were unsure. Fifty-two percent of Americans overall oppose amnesty while 32 percent support it, according to a Zogby survey taken from March 31 to April 3.

“Catholics are slightly more in favor of granting amnesty to undocumented workers already working in America,” Mr. Wenzel said. “They are slightly less concerned that increased rights for those workers could lead to split allegiances among those workers between America and Mexico, and they trust Democrats slightly more than Republicans to better handle the immigration issue.”

But despite Catholics’ generally softer stance on immigration, their bishops go much further by supporting an “earned legalization” program for illegals. Los Angeles Cardinal Roger Mahony has said he’d go to jail rather than follow a proposed law that he said would require priests to demand legal documentation before assisting immigrants, and Washington Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick gave the opening speech at a recent massive immigration rally on the Mall.

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The Catechism of the Catholic Church states: “The more prosperous nations are obliged, to the extent they are able, to welcome the foreigner in search of the security and the means of livelihood which he cannot find in his country of origin. . .

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