The WallStreet Journal
Pope Benedict XVI called on U.S. bishops last week to "continue to welcome the immigrants who join your ranks today, to share their joys and hopes, to support them in their sorrows and trials and to help them flourish in their new home." Mr. Tancredo's response was to accuse the pontiff of "faith-based marketing" and claim that "the pope's immigration comments may have less to do with spreading the gospel than they do about recruiting new members of the church."
Mr. Tancredo – who sports T-shirts that read "America Is Full" – also cited a March 1 Wall Street Journal editorial to support his argument. The editorial concerned a new Pew survey on religion in the U.S. and noted that in recent decades the Catholic Church has been losing members among the native born but gaining them among the foreign born. "We'd encourage our friends on the right who want to limit immigration to consider the health of our churches," we wrote.
Our point, evidently missed by the Congressman, was that the U.S. Catholic Church has traditionally been an immigrant church, helping to settle and assimilate generations of Irish, Polish and Italian newcomers. The pope made a similar argument during his visit last week in separate remarks to U.S. educators. "Countless dedicated religious sisters, brothers and priests together with selfless parents have, through Catholic schools, helped generations of immigrants to rise from poverty and take their place in mainstream society," he said.
To Lou Dobbs, another Tancredo-like compulsive, all of this amounted to the pope "insulting our country." The CNN anchor said, "I really don't appreciate the bad manners of a guest telling me in this country and my fellow citizens what to do." You know the restrictionists have gone head-first into the fever swamps when they denounce a Christian religious leader for sounding like a Christian.
The pope welcomes immigrants because he's Catholic, not because they are. He isn't "marketing" his faith. He's practicing it.