Cardinal Roger Mahony of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles, the nation's largest, on Ash Wednesday told his parishioners that if a bill that would make it illegal to offer support to illegal immigrants becomes law he will instruct his priests — and faithful lay Catholics — to defy the law.
The bill, H.R. 4437, has passed the House and will be considered by the Senate this week. It would expand the definition of "alien smuggling" in a way that could include offering food in a soup kitchen or food pantry, driving a friend to the bus stop or caring for a neighbor’s baby.
Congress, apparently having despaired of solving the illegal immigration problem either at the border or through employer sanctions, is now considering criminalizing social service agencies and soup kitchens who help the needy without considering their legal status. Rather than holding hearings on the failures of the Immigration and Naturalization Service to control our borders or seeking greater penalties against companies who hire illegal immigrants Congress seems to think it can slow down the flow of illegal immigrants by making soup kitchens ask for Social Security numbers.
In response to this muddled thinking the Cardinal offered a clear statement of what a Christian’s duty is. "As his disciples, we are called to attend to the last, littlest, lowest and least in society and in the church," he said.
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