May 11, 2007

Cardinal Mahony's imperfect economics

The May 11 issue of the Archdiocesan newspaper, The Tidings, carries a lecture (click on this post's title) by Cardinal Mahony, the Fifth Annual John M. Templeton Jr. Lecture on Economic Liberties and the Constitution at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia, May 8.

The topic was to be "immigration," and that was right up the Cardinal's alley.

In this corner, onelacatholic, the Cardinal gets a middling grade. That is because he said some good things but he also presented some strange notions about economics and our USA.

First off, the Cardinal called our government a democracy, when in reality our Founding Fathers fought, bled and died for, and set up, not a democracy but a republic.

Second, Cardinal Mahony claimed our Nation was built on "humanitarian principles...fairness, opportunity, and compassion." Sorry, but the correct answer is the Declaration's God-given rights to "Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness." Fairness, opportunity and compassion might be some results of our founding principles, but they are not the principles themselves.

Third, His Eminence stressed the contributions that illegal aliens make to the U.S. economy but downplayed the taxpayer-funded, mega-costly benefits they take from our welfare, education, medical and insurance systems. Now, ole Q here is not necessarily begrudging anyone anything, just pointing out that the Cardinal pretty much gave only one side of the equation.

Fourth, the Cardinal did not point out that the Popes have said both that nations have a right and duty to guard their borders and that immigrants must obey host nations' laws.

Fifth, Cardinal Mahony did not place any limits at all on how many millions of illegals the USA must absorb and on how many billions in hard-earned dollars U.S. taxpayers must fork over to support them. Apparently he believes we must let in, and pay for, all of humanity.

Sixth, the Cardinal treated illegals as if they all work, when in fact many do not.

Now, His Eminence did make some good points. He marshalled Old and New Testament verses and general Catholic principles about treatment of aliens. He noted inconsistencies in our laws. The great Catholic law professor emeritus Charles Rice made some similar points about just treatment of immigrants in a recent article in The Wanderer.

But overall, the Cardinal's remarks were uneven. Mainly, he spoke of justice for illegals but not of justice for U.S. wage-earners and taxpaying families, many of whom are just getting by and who are seeing their wages and purchasing power drop and even seeing their jobs disappear.

Our Catholic hierarchy should seek justice and fairness for Catholic taxpayers, and all taxpayers, especially in the sense of not treating them as mere sources of billions of tax dollars, as sheep to be sheared until kingdom come.


Blogger Xavier Martel said...

Sounds like The Good Cardinal needs a healthy dose of Leo XIII.

It is expected that the princes of the Church will be ignorant of economics (both the microeconomic issues besetting their flock, and the macroeconomic issues that they are most often tempted to address). But is is almost always depressing to hear them attempt to extend the Church's obligation to charitable love through some mechanism of economic machinery.

Preaching the succor of the immigrant is the mandate of the Church. Marshalling support from within the Church is part of this mandate. Providing a social network within the Church is part of this mandate. But seeking to abandon this responsibility by defaulting to the State, or much, much worse, seeking to use the machinery of the State to force one's flock into compulsory participation in this system, is the devil's path that too many of our clergy seem anxious to walk.

4:01 AM  
Blogger Quintero said...

Dear Xavier,

Very good recommendation that the Cardinal have a dose of Pope Leo XIII. Reading, or re-reading, the economic encyclicals of Pope Pius XI, Pope John XXIII, and Pope John Paul II would help out, too.

Liberals always want to use O.P.M. (Other People's Money). And they always want it to be through big government and big taxation. They want to take people's money away.

Liberals leave not nearly enough room for Catholic social action and Catholics' individual charity.

And liberals have damaged Catholic Charities and its mission by making it depend on government largesse (i.e., taxpayers' money).

Yes, it is wrong for our hierarchy to say taxpayers are obligated to finance the unending stream of illegals who are coming here. In both justice and charity, there has to be a limit to this looting of the American taxpayer.

5:07 PM  
Blogger MA said...

My take on the matter:

Who's conceptually confused, Mahony or Neuhaus?

8:25 AM  

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