July 26, 2006

Chaput Gets Earful From Faithful On Immigration

Non-Spanish speaking Catholics have good reason to feel slighted by many in the ecclesiastical community, including Archbishop Chaput, who seem to be doing almost everything in their power to accomodate the influx of immigrants, legal and illegal, and giving them preference over native English speakers:
Denver Archbishop Charles Chaput got an earful Monday from a packed audience of mostly Anglo, middle-class parishioners frustrated over the impact of illegal immigrants on society and their perceived reluctance to learn English.

"Wherever I go, I see English and Spanish (signs) - why not Polish?" asked a woman who said she emigrated from Poland decades ago. As she spoke, a standing-room-only crowd of more than 400 people at St. Thomas More Parish in Centennial erupted in applause and cheers.

"I've always said it was good for people to learn English," Chaput said.

It was the archbishop's second town hall meeting on immigration reform, but in a far different cultural setting than last Monday's meeting at Our Lady of Peace Parish in Greeley, where the pastor estimates 60 percent of his parishioners are immigrants. That town hall meeting was conducted in both Spanish and English.

Chaput said another town hall meeting is being scheduled in a mountain town, and there may be more.

In an interview before Monday's lively, English-only meeting got under way, Chaput said Anglos tell him privately they are worried about the impact of illegals on hospitals and schools and are frustrated that immigrants don't seem to appreciate the crisis. However, Chaput said Anglos tell him they feel intimidated about voicing those concerns publicly.

Chaput said hearing such frustrations hasn't changed his mind about the need to protect the dignity of immigrants, "but it might change my personal thoughts about what political solutions are best."
No one is talking about treating people unfairly, or illegally. Assimilation by learning the language of your new home should be seen as obligatory, if only a courtesy and not by law.

What Chaput alleges, even inadvertently, is inexcusable:
Asked about the effect of continued illegal immigration in 10 or 15 years, Chaput said he believed it was a manageable problem that had largely been inflamed "by fear and 9/11."

"I think we can manage it. My ancestors - I'm an American Indian - we can handle this; we're a big country," said Chaput, whose ancestry is French Canadian and Potowanamie Indian.

A questioner who asked what Mexican bishops were doing to improve conditions in Mexico got applause from the audience and a sharp response from Chaput.

"Bishops are encouraging the government not to be corrupt and to create jobs," Chaput said. "They're not encouraging people to leave and come here, and it's not sensible for you to think that they are."
"Inflamed 'by fear and 9/11'" must mean that the majority of those concerned have ulterior motives for their concerns, or at least Chaput makes that his perception of the current state of debate.

Now, the full question about Mexican bishops is not included, but it does not appear that Chaput was asked if they were intentionally directing parishioners north, and Chaput's sharp response is more revealing, almost defensive--perhaps from a sense of guilt?

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