When The Pope Speaks To The U.S. About Humanity, Is Mexico Listening?


As a boy growing up in

Los Angeles
, I had two dreams. One was to roam
center field
for the

New York Yankees
; the other, to

become a Roman Catholic priest
.

My first dream quickly faded into fantasy when I realized that
my

baseball
skills were, even among my

Little League
peers, no more than average.

The second dream, however, died hard.

For years, I carried my

Missal
, studied

Latin
and stood before a full-length mirror pretending to
celebrate a Mass.

As an example how deeply committed I once was to Catholicism, I
offer this slice of life story. After my family moved from
California to

Puerto Rico
, I was sent to a New Jersey

boy`s boarding schoo
l that had mandatory, non-denominational
11:00

Sunday chapel
.

But fearful of committing, as it was

then considered
, a mortal sin by missing Mass, a small group
of other faithful boys and I waited, often in the dark and the
cold, for a public bus to take us up the 20 miles up the road
for a 7:00 A.M service. We returned to the school to fulfill our
chapel obligation on a 9:00 A.M. bus

So deep was my faith that I gladly sacrificed my precious free
Sunday hours—classes were held six days a week— to stay in the
Church`s good graces.

Yet during that exact same period, despite my unquestioning
compliance with the Church`s teachings, inside me grew
misgivings about the Catholicism.

Living in poverty stricken

Puerto Rico
opened my eyes. Until then, I had seen
Catholicism from the perspective of

an altar boy
serving Mass at

the Church of the Good Shepherd
where

movie stars mingled
and spoke kindly to me while slipping me
a couple of dollars after the service.

Why, I wondered, did so many suffer so much while others wanted
for nothing? How could there be so much pain if God is all
loving?

Soon, my general uneasiness about the Church`s teachings turned
more specific. When I traveled through downtown

San Juan
, I saw penniless families with as many as six
children. The families I knew had no more than three children.
Yet the Church preached harshly against birth control.

Since I could never provide myself with satisfactory answers,
Catholicism gradually became less meaningful to me.

Now, I rarely think about the Church—except of course when it
preaches to patriots sanctimoniously and unrealistically about
open immigration.

In one of life`s interesting twists and turns, VDARE.COM has
provided me with a vehicle to write columns venting my
frustration and, yes, disgust with Roman Catholic immigration
views.


Pope Benedict XVI
trip to the United States brings angry
sentiments once again to my mind`s forefront.

But there is good news about Pope Benedict and his views on
immigration.

  • First, to date Benedict XVI is, despite his

    de rigueur
    private comments to President Bush “to
    promote humane solutions to illegal immigration
    ” and his

    public statement
    that "I want to encourage you and
    your communities to continue to welcome the immigrants who
    join your ranks today, to share their joys and hopes, to
    support them in their sorrows and trials, and to help them
    flourish in their new home."
    considerably more moderate
    than his

    predecessor
    , John Paul II. [Pope
    Hits Iraq Violence, Immigration and Sex Scandal
    ,
    Jon
    Ward and Julia Duin, Washington Times, April 17,
    2008]

The two comments cited above were completely predictable and
could have been written by any of us well in advance of the
Pope`s trip. They are essentially meaningless.

More important is to compare Benedict to John Paul.

An excellent 2002 essay titled

The Pope`s Left Turn On Immigration
by Catholic convert
and

Turnabout blogger
Jim Kalb summarized John Paul`s
immigration radicalism.

Kalb, in an e-mail exchange I had with him, pointed me to a
double-speak 2006 quote about immigration from Benedict that
leaves indicates he may be less strident.

Speaking from

Clementine Hall
in Vatican City, thousands of miles away
from the political correctness of Washington, D.C. Benedict said
in tones more delicate than anything ever uttered by John Paul:


“Single
believers are called to open their arms and their hearts to
every person, from whatever nation they come,

allowing the authority responsible for public life
to
enforce the relevant laws held to be appropriate for a healthy
co-existence."

Open your arms and hearts but enforce the law! (Read Benedict`s
entire speech

here
.)

  • Second, whatever Benedict may say now or in the future, here
    or abroad about U.S. immigration policy, the pope has little
    influence in American politics or among American Catholics.
    And, carried further, over the last few decades, the Roman
    Catholic Church`s American branch has been at odds with Rome
    on a host of religious issues.

Despite his relative lack of sway in the U.S., it is
nevertheless it is possible for Pope Benedict to have an impact
on immigration and create the “humane solutions” he seeks
if he would turn his attention to Mexico where his views are
more persuasive.