Friday, August 22, 2008

3 Cheers for Church LEADERship:

Rhode Island Roman Catholic bishop Thomas Tobin stood up to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in a formal letter this week calling on them to halt mass immigration raids until the nation adopts comprehensive immigration reform. In an AP news story he says agents who refuse to participate in such raids on moral grounds deserve to be treated as conscientious objectors! Yes, he calls on the feds "to fully respect the well-founded principles of conscientious objection" in such cases.
Hooray! A leader with some leadership. (It's getting to be a rare commodity.)

Tobin puts the Christian spin on this:
"We often ask, 'What would Jesus do?' I know for sure what Jesus would not do, would be to sweep into a community, gather up large numbers of people, separate them from one another and deport them to another country. In my own mind, in my own conscience, that's crystal clear: Jesus would not do that."

ICE was not pleased. Spokeswoman Kelly Nantel said the agency respects Tobin but believes his diocese "would be better served by helping individuals to comply with the law or working to change those laws rather than asking law enforcement agents not to enforce it."

If ICE agents are also former viewers of the television series "Hogan's Heroes" perhaps Ms. Nantel would cite Sargent Schultz of said program as an ICE authority on enforcement:
"I know nothing! I see nothing!"

Anyway, hooray for a U.S. Roman Catholic bishop actually taking a controversial stand. It's been a long time since I've noticed that kind of action. The Diocese of Providence website has more info.
Also, I've discovered: Letters and Papers from Postville, a blog for all who have concerns about the unfolding tragedy in Postville, Iowa, where a raid in May at Agriprocessors resulted in the arrests of over 380 people on immigration related-charges. It's on my Google Reader now.


eProf2 said...


Mariamariacuchita said...

I'm proud of him. Well done. My brothers all went to a Jesuit high school and those priests also spoke out on social justice on a regular basis. I miss that activist core of the Church.

seev said...

Yes, it's great that he spoke up. There are a few courageous people around. Thanks for those links too.

Ruth Hull Chatlien said...

It is god to hear about this kind of stand of conscience. Thanks for passing on the info.

FranIAm said...

The Catholic church as actually been stronger than not on this matter, although many Catholics get upset over it.

Cardinal Mahony in LA, Bishop Howard Hubbard in Albany and this man are among those who speak out loud.

Thanks for this great post!

Border Explorer said...

eProf & Maria, it is the social gospel of Christianity that has formed me.

Seev, I like your blog. And I should've mentioned that I found the info on Tobin in the Postville blog I cited.

Ruth, what a beautiful typo(?)! Awesome! This stand of conscience is "of God."

Fran, I do appreciate the U.S. bishops who are speaking out on this. Many Latinos are Roman Catholic, so the bishops have a good reason to stand up for them as immigrants. How sad that Catholics get upset about that! We've got a lot more work to do.

Thanks, everyone, for taking the time to comment!

Mariamariacuchita said...

you rock, BE.

Border Explorer said...

Aw, thanks, Maria...and right back atcha!

susan said...

Fighting for human rights is truly the heart and soul of the Christian tradition.. of any religious tradition.

Border Explorer said...

So wise, Susan. How you act is the important thing; what you believe is secondary to me.

Jan said...

I'm glad to hear about this, esp. because I lived in RI for 11 months and so feel some attachment to that state. (And usually the news from there isn't so good.)

Border Explorer said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Border Explorer said...

Just re-read my comment and realize that didn't come out the way I intended. Re-try:

Seeing the bishop of R.I. take such a strong advocacy position for comprehensive immigration reform leads me to wonder if there is a large immigrant population in that state.