Responding to the bishops about immigration

Re “Archbishop: Catholics’ role in immigration reform solution” (News Analysis, May 2). 

I read Archbishop Jose Gomez’s speech as published in Our Sunday Visitor, and wrote him a lengthy letter. I answered some of his points as follows: 

“The illegal aliens are essentially law-abiding persons.” 

Not so. They are here illegally in violation of our laws. That is strike one. Then they almost all have to come up with a fake or stolen Social Security number to work for any company. That is strike two. 

“They only take jobs that Americans don’t want.” 

Not so. I have two contractor (painting and landscaping) friends. Both of them struggle because there are so many illegals doing the same jobs. Ditto for those in the asphalt-laying jobs, the roofing jobs, the dry-wall hanging jobs, etc., etc. 

“They are undocumented immigrants.” 

Not so. They have their documents from their countries. But they have no legalization documents to be here as immigrants, therefore they are aliens. The term immigrant implies that they have followed the law to come here. 

As to your article, “Answering tough questions about immigration” by Bishop John C. Wester (May 16): 

The author seems to think that only 5,000 permanent visas for unskilled laborers to come to the United States is not enough. In actuality, that is 5,000 added to the already millions every year. Increasing the number of permanent visas given each year to unskilled workers will not stop illegals from coming.

— Daniel Barton, Fayetteville, N.C.

Clerical atonement

As a retired family therapist and devout convert in 1996 to the Church, I think Father Robert Barron’s Scripture arguments are off-point (“Viewing scandal from biblical lens,” May 9). 

The Church suffers because it failed to read Scripture — Jesus’ own words — comprehend it, and apply it to abuse of children. The hierarchy put down its Bible and canon law and instead sought psychiatric advice. 

Matthew 18 and Mark 9 and 10 are crystal clear: 

“Whoever receives one child such as this in my name receives me.” “See that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that their angels in heaven always look upon the face of my heavenly Father.” “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe [in me] to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were put around his neck, and he were thrown into the sea.” 

Offending priests received these little ones, abused their flesh and, in that, abused Jesus himself. Thus one cannot compare clerical abuse with abuse by teachers, coaches, neighbors or relatives, or even abuse by a parent. 

From my perspective, all priests, bishops, archbishops and the Holy Father himself should wear black for a year to atone for this failure. 

— Jeanne Brewer, Jenkins, Ky.

'Just' priests? 

To me, the most interesting statement in the May 9 edition of Our Sunday Visitor appeared in Greg Erlandson’s article “Night takes bishop,” about Bishop Roger Joseph Vangheluwe of Bruges, Belgium, admitting to the abuse of a minor. 

Erlandson revealed a problem with many of our priests when he quotes the bishop saying he starting abusing “when I was still just a priest.” I do believe, as far as God is concerned, all ordained into the priesthood always are “just priests.” I can’t remember Jesus assigning various “political” titles to various phases of the priesthood from monsignor to cardinal. He simply told his disciples to pick up their crosses and follow him in a life of simplicity. 

Maybe if our hierarchy would rid themselves of the special privileges and raiment’s of “their office” they would remember they are “just priests” and nobody “special” in Christ’s eyes. 

— Bill Bandle, Manchester, Mo.

Purge evil 

I’m troubled by the theological implications of Jennifer Fulwiler’s ideas (“Encountering Christ in evil,” May 2). Taken to their logical conclusions, they would seem to lead to the acceptance of open moral evil within the Church as being compatible with the will of God. This is a dangerous direction to take even one step toward when Sacred Scripture so clearly commands, “ Purge the evil person from your midst” (1 Cor 5:13). 

— Margret Meyer, Jacksonville, Fla.

Converting Catholics 

Re “Dispensing divine life” (In Focus, May 9). 

We desperately need to evangelize Catholics who were baptized as babies and lead them to experience an inner conversion, a deeper personal relationship with Jesus. Many Catholics have been sacramentalized but never converted. 

They need to know the nearness of Jesus and experience him heart to heart, with a childlike familiarity, knowing that Jesus is a real person here and now in their lives. Many Catholics receive this experience of conversion later in life through the evangelization efforts of Cursillio, ACTS or Catholic Charismatic retreats. 

— Marsha Morthland, Houston, Texas