Many of our Bishops are not fans of President Trump’s Executive Order on refugees.
Several have spoken publicly, expressing concern that the recent order unnecessarily targets innocent people seeking refuge while violating our Christian obligation to welcome the stranger. The implication being that the vetting process is working fine, that the security risks do not justify the action, and that the order is largely borne of a prejudice against foreigners, mainly against Muslims.
Not surprisingly, many Catholics of good will share a different opinion.
And while there are elements of the order we would have done differently, the dialogue among Catholics has been vigorous but civil.
That is... until Bishop Robert McElroy of San Diego spoke last weekend.
In a 20-minute scathing attack, McElroy told a gathering of community organizers that since President Trump was the candidate of disruption, Catholics must become “disrupters” of his agenda.
He got specific: “We must all become disrupters... disrupt those who would seek to send troops into our streets to deport the undocumented...disrupt those who portray refugees as enemies, disrupt those who seek to rob our medical care...disrupt those who would take even food stamps and nutrition assistance from the mouths of children…”
McElroy went on to say our economy is “one that kills” and urged Catholics to “see, act, judge” while arguing that “the tradition of Catholic social teaching is unequivocally on the side of strong governmental and societal protections...”
So much for ‘who am I to judge?’.
First, it goes without saying that we do not publicly criticize a Bishop lightly. Our shepherds deserve our prayers and respect. But sometimes additional “dialogue” is needed.
The implication that President Trump is ripping innocent children from their homes, or robbing medical care and food stamps from the mouths of the poor is just not happening. Furthermore, Bishop McElroy made no mention of disrupting those that advocate killing innocent children in the womb, shutting down the Little Sisters of the Poor, or confining a child to a failing school plagued with gangs and violence.
We need less noise, and more engagement.
Robust debates are underway on lots of issues. And it should surprise no one that President Trump and many frustrated Americans believe government programs are in need of major reform, beginning with Obamacare. Divisive cheap shots will not solve the problems driven by a $20 trillion ballooning debt created by politicians (in both parties) who refused to address our problems.
The fact is millions of working-class and middle-income families are suffering from premium spikes and other problems with Obamacare. Religious charities and private businesses are being threatened with fines and closure, while huge swaths of middle America find themselves losing hope in struggling towns with closed factories.
Americans sense it.
Something is deeply wrong.
Calling on Catholics to disrupt every effort by President Trump is unhelpful at best, and reckless at worst. Sadly, Bishop McElroy’s rant only serves to inflame growing divisions, sowing deeper seeds of tension and hate that have spilled over into public protests, riots, violence and destruction of property in cities across America.
Americans deserve better than this.
You know the deal. Catholics passionately disagree on how to solve many of the problems plaguing our country and culture. There are deep divisions in our Church from left to right. Our shepherds must heal rather than divide.
But CV won’t allow divisive attacks to deter us. After all, Pope Francis has urged the laity to get involved and take the lead -- even if our hands get “a little dirty.” And when that happens, he said: “Ask for forgiveness and keep going.”
The work of CatholicVote.org has never been more needed.
Our priorities are clear:
Repeal and replace Obamacare with something better. Now.
Restore our religious freedom and protect it in law.
Responsibly reform our immigration system lest our laws become a mockery.
Ensure every child receives a quality education -- in the school of their choice.
Defend and protect the sanctity of all human life.
Modernize our tax law, and unleash our economic potential with millions of new jobs -- helping tamp down divisive debates over food stamps and other government services for those most in need.
Catholics can passionately debate how best to accomplish these goals while still respecting those who disagree. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
Such an agenda is indeed disruptive.
And long overdue.
P.S. In breaking news, the Department of Homeland Security has issued new orders to begin enforcing existing immigration laws with prioritization for the deportation of criminals.
While some conservatives will be disappointed, President Trump appears to have preserved protections under ‘DACA’ which allow those brought into the country illegally as children to stay. This is a sensible compromise that we support -- and further proof, that despite that wild rhetoric against him, President Trump appears poised to follow through on his campaign promises in a responsible way.