One of the most exasperating aspects of the current immigration debate is the persistent use of cliches, which have come to replace logical, factual arguments. Probably the worst purveyor of myths about immigration policy is the Roman Catholic Church in the United States, whose bishops and priests have repeatedly demonized Americans-including much of the Catholic faithful-who want to reassert control over their country’s porous borders. In addition to being one of the most outspoken proponents of amnesty, the Church has also resorted to the most baseless, vituperative smears in order to castigate those who support reasonable immigration policy; the exemplar being the recently retired Archbishop of Los Angeles, Roger Mahony, who likened SB 1070 to something you would see in Nazi Germany.
Therefore, it should come as no surprise that a Roman Catholic priest in the Bronx would help foreign nationals fighting deportation orders. However, as my friend informed me when I was sent the link to a New York Times profile of Father Vitagliano, this priest is now being accused of ignoring his responsibilities to clients seeking to remain in the United States permanently. The chaotic situation described in the aforementioned article will only be made worse if the policies advocated by the Roman Catholic Church, as well as other churches advocating various forms of amnesty, are implemented, which is why the recent statements by Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin are so disturbing. The concerted effort by churches throughout this country to foist amnesty upon the American public, in spite of their congregants’ strenuous opposition to this idea, raises the question of whether they are acting in a religious or political capacity. The tax-exempt status accorded to churches, synagogues, mosques, temples, and other bodies of religious worship is premised upon the notion that they are not partisan political advocates, which Senator Durbin, as well as individuals like Father Vitigliano, seem to believe they should be.
The disconnect between what these religious organizations market themselves as and what they are actually doing in many instances needs to be highlighted, especially to those churchgoers who are ignorant of what their leaders are doing in their name. Otherwise, the manipulation of our government to serve the purposes of those who seek to exploit it will only continue, to the detriment of Americans.