Steve Bannon’s yet-to-be-aired interview on CBS is already sparking juicy headlines and inspiring heated commentary whenever a soundbite or snippet of the interview gets teased to the public. This time it’s the US Bishops’ conference that something to say. And it unsurprisingly sounds foolish. But so does Bannon.

Yet for all the foolishness going on here, Bannon, as wrong as he is, is actually onto something. He just doesn’t know it.

While talking about the repeal of DACA, which US Bishops seem to oppose, Bannon suggested that the Catholic Church has an economic interest in supporting “unlimited illegal immigration”.

“[The Church is] unable to really, to, to, to come to grips with the problems in the church, they need illegal aliens, they need illegal aliens to fill the churches. That’s, it’s obvious on the face of it,”

So, according to Bannon, the Church takes a liberal position on immigration, because we want more people in the pews, so that we can get more dollars in the collection basket.  A line of reasoning that Cardinal Dolan very appropriately and accurately called “insulting and ridiculous”.

The US Bishops’ Conference then fired back, through their chief communications officer James Rogers who said. “It is preposterous to claim that justice for immigrants isn’t central to Catholic teaching. It comes directly from Jesus Himself in Matthew 25, ‘For I was hungry and you gave me food…a stranger and you welcomed me,… Immigrants and refugees are precisely the strangers we must welcome”

Eh…true, but false. Certainly justice for immigrants is central to Catholic teaching, as justice to anyone, particularly the poor or oppressed, is central to Catholic teaching. But what the Bishops’ conference seems to support is not justice, it’s liberalized [false]mercy and now they’re even going to scripture to support it. It’s not surprising to me that someone from the USCCB concocts some ridiculous rhetoric from misapplied scripture. I guess we should also vandalize banks, since, after all, Jesus overturned the tables of the money changers.

We’re accustomed to this sort of logical acrobatics from politicians but sadly it’s become normal in the Church today, too. These are verbal and rhetorical tactics that avoid the issue, ignore the facts, and contort scripture into a shapeless blob that can be applied to support any errant conclusion. But who am I to judge?

The bottom line for me is both parties—the Church, and Bannon—are wrong. But Bannon’s reasoning isn’t completely off the wall. The Church is indeed trying desperately to bring in more money. But it isn’t looking to immigrants for that, it’s looking to native-born secularized Catholics, and its appealing to them in many cases by practically selling its own soul.

BANNON IS WRONG

First, let’s get something straight regarding immigration, and immigrants. The Church in America doesn’t defend immigrants because of an “economic interest”. The Church defends immigrants because they are dignified human beings made in the image of God, and because they are poor “strangers” (outsiders) and need special attention, defense, and care.

THE BISHOPS ARE WRONG

Where many in the American Church (and most on the American left) gets it wrong is by forgetting or ignoring that we are a nation of laws, and a sovereign nation has an intrinsic right to defend and uphold its sovereignty. These are not man-made principals, they are natural ones. We can’t toss the rule of law out the window. We cannot forego order in the interests of false mercy. Our laws regarding immigration are already just, fair, and generous. This is the most welcoming, most benevolent country in the world. Tightening control of our borders is not anti-immigrant, it’s anti-disorder. A country that is not ordered even at its border is a country that cannot sustain its own citizenry, or the “stranger” who wants to be a part of the American family. We’re already seeing that to be true in local economies.

America is not rejecting the poor, the “stranger”, and the immigrant. We take in more immigrants and refugees than any other country in the world. We welcome the stranger, but we insist that he come through the front door, not sneak in through the living room window, and hide in the basement. Anyone who thinks Jesus would support what the American left is advocating for must not know who Jesus really is. The Lord would not abandon the rule of law, provided the law is just. And our immigration policies are just and fair and generous.

THE REAL TRUTH

Bannon’s reasoning wasn’t completely off the wall. While not every parish or diocese is obsessed with filling Churches simply to get more money and are genuinely and sincerely interested in bringing souls to Jesus, there is absolutely a mentality in many Churches in America that we need to bring in the money, and we need to do that not only by filling the pews but also by doing various political, cultural, and theological song and dance routines in order to bring in that money.

In much of the modern American Church, the answer to dwindling numbers is to attract more people with softer rhetoric and a gradual abandonment of our Catholic character, and a gradual departure from speaking Truth, so that we don’t offend the over-sensitive, secularized faithful. Its answer to dwindling dollars is conducting more frequent fundraisers, and appealing to the secular sensibilities of some/many in the laity. The Church in America isn’t appealing to the immigrant, it’s appealing to American natives—to the secularized, to the paganized, to the errant mass-goer and cultural-Catholic. To appeal to the immigrant, the Church needn’t change a thing. The immigrant is, by majority, receptive to the Catholic voice. To appeal to the folks the modern American Church does try to appeal to, the Church has to sell its soul. And that’s precisely what it does from too many pulpits, and from too many chanceries in the American Church.

In total fairness, not every parish or diocese is this desperate. There are some great parishes, and great dioceses headed by great men in this country. But let’s not kid ourselves about the big picture. What we’re seeing in some of these great parishes and dioceses is the exception, not the rule. The American Church needs to remember who she is, evangelize well, and suffer patiently whatever comes of it, for the glory of God. Do the business of the Kingdom, not the business of the world.

  • cheeriosinmypocket

    Well said, Brother, especially:
    “It’s not surprising to me that someone from the USCCB concocts some ridiculous rhetoric from misapplied scripture. I guess we should also vandalize banks, since, after all, Jesus overturned the tables of the money changers.
    We’re accustomed to this sort of logical acrobatics from politicians but sadly it’s become normal in the Church today, too. These are verbal and rhetorical tactics that avoid the issue, ignore the facts, and contort scripture into a shapeless blob that can be applied to support any errant conclusion. But who am I to judge?”
    So good to have you back. I may have seen something more in what you say about Bannon, but I hadn’t even seen there was such an interview, let alone seen/heard snippets. So much going on with family, my foot and my aging (60 now) teeth (oy vey!)
    I do recall reading the former President had given a good deal of money to the Church to assist with the floods of children entering illegally under his encouragement and failure to “execute” immigration laws. What a mess created with so many lives when the law is disregarded from the top.
    God bless us all, going forward. Welcome back, Tim! You have our prayers.

  • Patrick J Loveless

    I agree with that statement’s a misapplication of scripture. But I think working even with illegal immigrants for a symbiotic relationship, wherein they sacrifice to become citizens of this country, is a real smart idea.

    I mean, consider the replacement rate. Immigrants have way more children than those born in this country. They live more comfortably with less, they’re more generous, they’re more religious. Hispanic immigrants especially have a lot of the qualities we want in this country.

    I say we should welcome them and be generous to them. Most importantly, we should be willing to learn from them culturally. I don’t exactly know how you do that, but the first step would be working out a mutual deal that lets illegals stay for a reasonable price for both us and them.

    • tjhaines

      ” Immigrants have way more children than those born in this country. They live more comfortably with less, they’re more generous, they’re more religious. Hispanic immigrants especially have a lot of the qualities we want in this country.”

      I think what you say here is spot on, but I don’t think you’re interpreting or applying it correctly.
      The idea of replacing ourselves with folks from other countries, because they have more of what we want, is defeatist and backwards. That being said: 1) They usually vote for democrats so it almost doesn’t matter what their religious or social culture is. THey’re voting for the folks who give them a free ride, and who promise to give them the wealth of the evil rich people and corporations. 2) Their “screw you” to our immigration laws translates to a “screw you” to our national culture. Mexicans for example who come here illegally almost always identify as Mexicans who live in America, not as Americans. Mexicans who emigrate here legally identify as Americans (or Mexican American). People who come here illegally are much less willing/likely to assimilate than those who come here legally. 3) They live more comfortably with less, and I love that, but they aren’t really living with less. They draw more from the federal money-well here, in one way or another. They pay little or no taxes and yet they cost NYC 20k per year, per child in our schools. And that’s only education; we aren’t factoring in other social assistance they receive. Yes, they do live comfortably with less, but they aren’t actually receiving less from the US than they did from their home countries, they’re receiving more.

      “I say we should welcome them and be generous to them.”
      We’re already doing that. Is 1 million per year not enough? That’s how many we welcome here legally every year.

      “Most importantly, we should be willing to learn from them culturally”
      America is not learning anything from the immigrants we’ve taken in over the past few decades so I don’t see this theory working out. I get what you’re saying; they’re usually more traditional about their values, and so on, and so on. But so were we, right here in America, not too long ago. It would be better to fix ourselves than to abandon ourselves.
      Good to see you again brother. God be with you.

      • Patrick J Loveless

        It’s a great pleasure to see this site is still alive. I was worried when I saw your last podcast was uploaded three months ago!

        I would be genuinely interested in finding primary sources on this issue, as it’s caught my interest as of late. If you have any, Tim, I’d love to see them for myself.

        I agree that it would be a sad thing if natural-born Americans died out, reputed as self-serving, sterile consumerist beasts, and little better. It would be better if my generation and future American generations rose up to retake the banners of family and final purpose. But, you say yourself, our people aren’t willing to learn much, are they? No one is so blind as him who is blind and thinks he sees.

        I agree graft is a problem. Graft is an old, oooooollld problem. But from where does it come?

        I also agree they get certainly more than they ever did in South/Central America. And, yeah, they probably don’t pay anything but sales tax if they’re illegal, and that’s not right, and they get way more for their money.

        So, once we find out they are out of line and not paying taxes, I say we offer them a second chance, on the condition that they pay all their taxes consistently for 10 years, AND pay half again within 15 years of being found out. Or somesuch other correction, if the immigrant is willing to accept it. Else, back across the border.

        If they do take advantage of us, the lex talionis seems just. Punting them across the border seems like more than tit for tat. Plus, we would lose valuable workers, especially in those fields American natives wouldn’t work themselves, fields included.

  • AflowerofStTherese

    All I’m seeing here is another assault on the family and the dignity of the human person…who has no voice and no rights. An illegal immigrant is pretty much like the unborn …no one wants to take responsibility at their own expense. The immigration issue is a complex one, in the US but it shouldn’t for Catholics.

    • tjhaines

      I think you may be conflating two separate categories: Those who come here legally, and those who circumvent the law and live here in secret. They are not the same class. Those who come here legally are generally law-abiding, they love America, they assimilate, they contribute to the culture and economy, etc, and so on. Then there are those who are not here legally. While there are plenty of decent folks coming and staying here illegally, there are also plenty of indecent ones coming here and staying here illegally. As a whole, these non-legal residents (good people or bad ones) cripple local economies, and in part (the bad ones) they increase the crime rate. Even the ones who are decent, but are here illegally, do harm, simply by being here. Because they upset the local pay scales, they enable exploitation of themselves and of others by some local employers and landlords, which destroys employment and housing markets. In short, the ones who are here illegally ruin things for the ones who are here legally, AND the folks who are born here. I don’t believe it’s a matter of expense (monetary or otherwise) it’s a matter of sustaining local infrastructures so that ALL people—natives, immigrants, legal or not legal—can survive and thrive.
      Glad to know I was missed. The feeling is mutual. Glad to “see” you again. God bless and keep you.

      • AflowerofStTherese

        ” it’s a matter of sustaining local infrastructures so that ALL people—natives, immigrants, legal or not legal—can survive and thrive. ”

        You know I’m fond of you Tim. But this line of reasoning is similar to the mindset of pro control populationist at the UN. This is something a Chinese ambassador at the UN might say to justify population control.

        I do agree that there has to be some type of control at the borders of a Nation. But to turn away poor people who are seeking survival and reunion with their families is inhumane and anti gospel.

        • Ariel Schlager Reyes

          Applying the law of the land to maintain a state’s sovereignty is a natural right and duty. The poor and needy still have the obligation to follow moral, natural and national laws that are just. If they have broken the law and been immoral than the fulfillment of the law is the application of justice and is not against the Gospel.

          On a purely logistical note, and following your logic to its logical end an we let EVERYONE in it is realistically going a minimal impact and destroy our capacity as a nation to continue to be generous and help others as we have already done.

  • AflowerofStTherese

    Not to be rude or anything…and I hope I am not going to offend anyone in saying this. Americans do have a history/habit of treating their newest immigrants horribly. My priest is a third generation German American who was already pretty much as American as you can get, and still he (his community) were still not fully accepted by their hosting local community. He wasn’t an illegal though.

    I’m a vericast viewer for 2 years now, not an American obviously. I think it’s insane that Mexican families (possibly catholics) are being torn apart and my favorite catholic podcaster doesn’t really mind. ahaha lol.

    Welcome back Tim. I’m still grateful you’re back! <3

    • tjhaines

      “Americans do have a history/habit of treating their newest immigrants horribly. ”
      You’re talking about how people have treated people, and you’re focusing on a past social paradigm, not how things are in modern times. But this topic is mainly about whether America treats immigrants fairly and generously, not whether all AmericANS do so (or have done so in the past).
      This also isn’t about whether families should be (or even ARE being) broken up. This is about whether anyone has a right to come into the United States at will, and whether the Church is exploiting that for financial benefit. It also isn’t about what to do about the people who are already here illegally.

    • cheeriosinmypocket

      Not to be rude or anything…but I am offended. I find it incredibly funny that anyone who has lived in the U.S.A. would state: “Americans do have a history/habit of treating their newest immigrants horribly…” That is not the America I have experienced. Ethnic battles began long before this [formerly known as] melting pot came to be; so too were racial prejudices and slavery occurring long before America and, unfortunately, continue in other countries (prejudices still exist here, but the numbers are miniscule compared with what they were).

      What I have seen growing up in America are many, many peoples who have come here, or whose parents came here, or whose grandparents came here looking for a better life…and they found it! They didn’t become millionaires, but their dream was to improve their lives, to have a family and for their families’ lives to improve beyond what they reached. They were successful It wasn’t until the left, the Marxists began destroying this culture that the real rot began and continues.

      What you need to realize is that this Country will not continue if it destroys the two things that made it great: The first, is to destroy our Judeo-Christian culture; and the second is to destroy the Constitution. One million people per year desire to come to live permanently in America and they seek the channels they need to follow to do so. Why would they want to come to America if it was not desirous? Why do so many people flee here from El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Cuba?

      What I find insane is that people would break the law of a Country they want to enter–this is not the way to start a relationship. Our behavior has consequences. Our President is upholding the laws that Tim rightly states above are “just, fair, and generous.” I hold no prejudice as the left loves to claim about anyone who doesn’t agree with them. I happen to be madly in love for 26 years to my husband, a Mexican-American, and am grateful to his Dad and Mom who followed the laws around 60 years ago when they came here to settle down and begin a family.

      God bless you! Where are you from?

      • AflowerofStTherese

        Hello sister. My sincerest apologies for the offense …that is the opinion of a priest I know who is almost two decades older than you are. As for mine, well, I’ve only met some of America’s best people in person, some gorgeous and some very holy people.

        I also go from what I studied and from the news.

        • cheeriosinmypocket

          Hello sister, I accept your apology. I hope I didn’t rough you up. We are living in such crazy times. Even with her flaws and faults, the U.S. is sought out by most. If I could live anywhere in the world, where would I live? Right here is my choice. Communism has dealt a huge blow to many countries, and socialism is right behind it in ruination. The expansion of Islam from the Middle East to Africa, to Europe is another devastating blow. And, aside from Belize, I have never really heard of a thriving Central nor South American Country–the history of so many corrupt regimes is phenomenal. Canada appears to be swallowing socialism faster than us, so I’m so glad I’m living in the U.S.A.

  • cheeriosinmypocket

    Love your response to the comments on facebook (which I don’t have). Excellent job, Tim!