Friday, May 26, 2006

Recently, the Cardinal of L.A. claimed to be above the law in America. I accuse him of antinomianism. I might have also suggested he be excoriated by clam-shells and that his cardinal number be covered in pitch to illuminate Wiltshire Blvd. That's me and my sense of humor. I asked for responses less amusing if more sensible.

LOS ANGELES — The Los Angeles Archdiocese will ignore a proposed federal law that would require churches to ask immigrants for residency documents before administering help, Cardinal Roger Mahony said last week.

"The church is not in a position of negotiating the spiritual and the corporal works of mercy," Mahony said during a Mass at the Cathedral of Our Lady of Angels marking the start of the 40-day season of Lent.

I cannot understand how a cardinal can claim to be above the civil law in civil society. I am not qualified to express an opinion of worth on this topic. My mind turned to an anecdote from Digby C. Anderson (Editor), Peter Mullen , (Editor), Faking It: Sentimentalization of Modern Society. Two social workers look at the Good Samaritan lying beaten and bloody on the roadside. Says one to the other: "The person who did this really should seek counselling."

Our friend Hugh responded from an informed Christian postion.

The good Samaritan was himself part of a group despised by the Jews, but did not withhold his good help for a fellow human being truly in need. So far as we are told, the victim was law abiding, and his plight was clearly not of his own making. Christian charity should not be perverted as extending to aid and abet criminal activity. Taking a destitute man off the street, giving him food and temporary shelter is being something of a good Samaritan, but the man helped in the Biblical account was a victim of highway robbers, and had not broken the laws of the land himself. The good Samaritan did not expedite criminal activity, but carried the victim to an inn where he was legally entitled to be.

Even if the victim had committed crimes, the good Samaritan would likely still give his help, which was to attend to his wounds and need of immediate food and shelter, but nothing in the story suggests that the help given would preclude both of them otherwise complying with the law, so far as the Samaritan was involved. Contrary to the Cardinal's suggestion, there is no scripture which says we are to extend "unlimited" charity and generosity to strangers. The extent of the good Samaritan's help was not beyond a reasonable recovery time, and certainly did not countenance effective assistance in breaking and/or evading the law of the land. As I understand it, the US immigration law requires the church to ask for citizenship ID only if they wish to offer someone assistance or help. In that case, they must ALSO report, should the individual not produce adequate proof of citizenship. None of this prevents giving food, shelter, or other reasonable assistance AFTER the question/s have been asked and the INS notified if necessary, regardless of whether the individual is an illegal alien or not.

Both Romans 13:1 and Titus 3:1 tell us to be subject to the law of the land, unless ONLY they expressly contradict God's law, as per Acts 4:19. The Lord has never commanded laws of immigration to be ignored or otherwise bypassed, anytime, anywhere. A bowl of soup, a sandwich, a simple bed for the night, and an immediate phone call to the INS where there has not been proper ID would be the appropriate, actually Biblical response for anyone who truly wishes to comply with the Spirit of the entire scripture.

The Cardinal seems to, perhaps deliberately, confuse the issues of agency and simple law abiding compliance. To comply with the law of the land by requiring ID for someone who looks under age trying to purchase alcohol is not making the retailer an agent of the government, or administrator of judgment, even though the retailer will rightly be fined or otherwise punished for ignoring the law's requirements for ID check.

If there is any doubt, first the ID to show entitlement to even be in the land, then the service or assistance. None of this violates scripture. Tacitly concealing criminal activity, under the erroneous excuse that it would somehow preclude offering assistance, certainly does violate God's laws.

When our Western intelligentsia, particularly our moral leaders, regardless of our religious affliation or lack thereof, are gnositc and antinomian, then it seems we are in deeper trouble than we can rightly tolerate.

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