Last night, without the pressure to grade or prepare anything for class, I managed to catch a bit last night's GOP Debate. Like many, I was surprised by Newt Gingrich's comments on immigration:
"I do not believe that the people of the United States are going to take people who have been here a quarter of a century, separate them from their families and expel them,” Gingrich said last night. “I do believe that if you’ve been here recently and have no ties to the US, we should deport you."Much is often made of Gingrich's conversion to Catholicism. Perhaps it is just serendipitous, but what some regard as devastating "political TNT" resonates so clearly with last Sunday's Gospel.
...For I was hungry and you gave me food,I was thirsty and you gave me drink,a stranger and you welcomed me,naked and you clothed me,ill and you cared for me,in prison and you visited me.'Then the righteous will answer him and say,'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you,or thirsty and give you drink? When did we see you a stranger and welcome you,or naked and clothe you? When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?'And the king will say to them in reply,'Amen, I say to you, whatever you didfor one of the least brothers of mine, you did for me.'Then he will say to those on his left,'Depart from me, you accursed,into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.For I was hungry and you gave me no food,I was thirsty and you gave me no drink,a stranger and you gave me no welcome,naked and you gave me no clothing,ill and in prison, and you did not care for me.'To be transparent, I am a registered Republican (read into that what you will). I think Newt is dead-on in pointing out the contradiction of claiming to be "the party of the family" while pursuing a course of action that would tear families apart.
It astonishes me that so many hear in Newt's words the death knell to his candidacy. In advocating a more human, more realistic, more Christian response...has he really severed his ties with his party? Has our country become so polarized that reason and humanity will be jettisoned for fringe-group extremism?
Perhaps it is I who have caved to extremism. Yet recall what Archbishop Allen Vigneron wrote several months ago:
There must be a concerted effort to find a pathway toward citizenship for undocumented persons who have contributed to the common good. The positive impact migrant communities have made in our country, and especially in our state, should be recognized rather than overshadowed by the small number of those who engage in illicit and unacceptable activities.Today, I must give credit to Mr. Gingrich for, on this point, standing within the orbit of Catholic Social Teaching. It's funny that "Cafeteria Conservatives" love to dip into the Church's teachings when it comes to abortion or to "pro-family" legislation regarding gay marriage, but it leaves the teachings on Immigration untouched. If Newt's candidacy is sunk by this stance, I will have to agree with Michael Shawn Winters that, "we will have learned all we need to know about the shallowness of the claims of the GOP to be the "pro-family" party."