Can someone explain to me why Raymond Arroyo still has a show on EWTN? Bad enough that whenever Arroyo hosts Kevin Appleby, from the Center for Migration Studies and a longtime staffer on the issue at the bishops’ conference, he’s paired with someone from the viciously anti-immigrant Federation for American Immigration Reform. This would be like hosting Cardinal Timothy Dolan, [former] chair of the bishops’ Pro-Life Activities Committee, and pairing him with Cecile Richards from Planned Parenthood. But, last week, Arroyo discussed the bishops’ spring meeting and their discussion of immigration with First Things’ Matthew Schmitz, and Arroyo did nothing but make apologies for Donald Trump’s willingness to separate children from their parents, and blame it on the Democrats.
Michael Sean Winters takes the words out of my mouth. The quote above, from his links column yesterday, as well as his new column today demonstrate the lengths to which Arroyo will push his political views, even when those views directly contradict the teachings of the Catholic Church.
The Catechism teaches:
2241 The more prosperous nations are obliged, to the extent they are able, to welcome the foreigner in search of the security and the means of livelihood which he cannot find in his country of origin. Public authorities should see to it that the natural right is respected that places a guest under the protection of those who receive him.
Political authorities, for the sake of the common good for which they are responsible, may make the exercise of the right to immigrate subject to various juridical conditions, especially with regard to the immigrants’ duties toward their country of adoption. Immigrants are obliged to respect with gratitude the material and spiritual heritage of the country that receives them, to obey its laws and to assist in carrying civic burdens.
Make no mistake. In the teaching on immigration, the Catholic Church’s official catechism asserts the right to immigrate. Good people might differ in their prudential views of how nations might best assist people in asserting that right. Of course better and more humanitarian regulations are needed in this country. People are being exploited and abused by the current system, and the system needs an overhaul. But prosperous nations are obliged to welcome the foreigner. And what more prosperous nation is there than the United States?
I know that many of our readers consider themselves conservative, and are members of the Republican party. Most of our readers understand that our editorial position at Where Peter Is is non-partisan. We are not beholden to any political party or candidate in any country. We realize that we have a diverse reader base, and some readers may be unhappy with us for taking a position that is critical of a particular party. We simply strive to be faithful to the teachings of the Catholic Church, doctrinally orthodox, and committed to following the Magisterium.
This position frees us to respond to politics, news, and events without prejudice against a political figure or party. If a party or political leader holds a stance or enacts a policy that is contrary to the Catholic position, we will stand for the Truth without apology.
In the case of the current immigration crisis, and especially the controversy in recent weeks over the separation of children from their parents at the border, we defer to the wisdom of our bishops and the Holy See over that of the Republican leadership.
In Benjamin O’Hearn’s excellent essay this morning about the immediate humanitarian crisis at the US/Mexico border, he draws our attention to numerous statements by US bishops, including the USCCB President, Houston’s Cardinal DiNardo, who wrote:
“[We condemn] the continued use of family separation at the U.S./Mexico border as an implementation of the Administration’s zero tolerance policy. Our government has the discretion in our laws to ensure that young children are not separated from their parents and exposed to irreparable harm and trauma. Families are the foundational element of our society and they must be able to stay together. While protecting our borders is important, we can and must do better as a government, and as a society, to find other ways to ensure that safety. Separating babies from their mothers is not the answer and is immoral.”
New York’s Cardinal Dolan added,
“I don’t think we should obey a law that goes against what God intends. That you would take a baby, a child from his or her mom. I mean, that’s just unjust, that’s unbiblical, that’s un-American. There could be no Bible passage that would justify that. […] I would say that if you claim to be Christian, you better read St. Matthew’s gospel when he said, “this is what Jesus is going to ask us when we stand before him on judgment day. ‘When I was a stranger, when I was an alien, when I was an immigrant, you welcomed me. Alright, so come into heaven.’ But to me, that means a lot more than any particular law that we’re debating about.”
In an exclusive interview with Reuters, excerpts of which were released earlier today, Francis endorsed the US Bishops’ stance.
“I am on the side of the bishops’ conference,” the pope said, referring to two statements from U.S. bishops this month.
“Let it be clear that in these things, I respect (the position of) the bishops conference.”
Fortunately, it appears that President Trump has finally bowed to the public outcry against the family separations that have been going on since May.
During these weeks, however, Raymond Arroyo has not been part of the outcry. He’s been a cheerleader for an unjust and un-Catholic policy. The week before his discussion with Matthew Schmitz, his guest was Mark Krikorian, Executive Director of the Center for Immigration Studies, a Washington-based think tank that advocates for lower levels of immigration. (The video is here.) The two discussed the justifications for the policy as if there was no other respectable choice. Arroyo suggested that the United States provides something akin to “foster care” for the separated children, citing the “sports training” and “education” they receive. Almost as if this is the desired outcome for these families.
Late in this conversation, Krikorian suggested that the levels of legal immigration need to be pared back significantly, while illegal immigration should be stopped completely. This was, of course, a friendly interview with someone who holds strongly anti-Catholic views.
Regarding the interview a week later with Schmitz, Michael Sean Winters had this to say:
Rather than confronting the immoral policy, Arroyo made excuses, repeating White House talking points about these separations being necessary because of “long-standing American law, connected to the Flores decision, which demands that children be separated from their parents.” Then, how come previous presidents, of both political parties, did not separate children from their parents as Trump is doing now?
Arroyo went on to blame the victim. He said, “that loophole is being exploited,” although it was not clear what loophole he meant if the law was as clear as he indicated. “There are a lot of people gaming the system….’just throw my kid over the border,’ ” Arroyo averred.
Arroyo’s guest, First Things’ senior editor Matthew Schmitz did not question Arroyo’s political spin. When asked about Cardinal Joe Tobin’s call for the bishops to go to the border to demonstrate their pastoral concern and their protest against these inhumane policies, Schmitz suggested the proposal was “grandstanding.”
This is not a Catholic voice. And the true Catholic voice, in this instance, is unified. This is not left or right. Even Cardinal Burke has spoken against it. In an interview with EWTN News he said, “A solution to the situation has to be found which avoids this practice of separating small children from their parents, that’s clear.”
What damage is Arroyo’s dissent causing? Michael Sean Winters discusses his influence:
“Hundreds of thousands of Catholics think he speaks for the church. His show is a scandal in both the generic and theological sense of the word.”
I have family and friends who watch his show and allow him to influence them. It is doubtful that most of his viewers fact-check his assertions after watching the program.
It’s important that until he repents or is removed from his program, Catholic leaders must continue to speak out against the falsehoods he spreads. When he spreads misinformation or promotes dissent from Catholic teaching, he must be called to account for his words. As Katie Prejean-McGrady — a young Catholic mother and representative to the Vatican pre-synod meeting of young people — did at last week’s meeting of bishops in Ft. Lauderdale.
You may recall in my last article about Arroyo, I discussed how he and the “papal posse” attempted to discredit the meeting’s final document, even though it wasn’t entirely clear that they had either read it or were clear about the backgrounds of the young adults at the meeting. The three American delegates led a conversation with the assembled bishops last week, a discussion that Crux said bishops described as “electric” and “galvanizing.”
Prejean-McGrady, one of the three US delegates, had taken note of Arroyo’s derisive comments. After meeting with the bishops, she told Crux,
“I hope that as we addressed the bishops, we proved what Raymond Arroyo said to be wrong,” said Prejean-McGrady. “There are young people that have something to say, who are articulate, and we do have an experience of the Church, and we’re willing to share it, and that the bishops are willing to listen.”
“I think it maybe turned his criticism on its head,” she added. “So many bishops afterwards were asking further questions and wanted contact information, and even their separate conversation after we were done with our piece, showed that they have been thinking.”
Hopefully more Bishops and faithful Catholics are coming to their senses and realizing that Arroyo’s program is far from orthodox or faithful. Hopefully people are becoming more aware about the falsehoods and misrepresentations that are featured on this program.
My next piece on Arroyo will discuss how his program has been used as a platform to attack the Holy Father.
Proving even further that this is not a liberal or conservative issue, conservative Archbishop Charles Chaput has written a column decrying the policy. He writes:
The administration’s most recent blunder — separating children from their parents caught illegally entering the country — was both stupid and destructive, and the storm of anger it sparked, warranted. … We’re better than this as a nation. And if we really want to “make America great again,” with a moral character that proves it, then the people who make and apply our laws need to act accordingly.
Mike Lewis is a writer and graphic designer from Maryland, having worked for many years in Catholic publishing. He’s a husband, father of four, and a lifelong Catholic. He’s active in his parish and community. He is a founding editor for Where Peter Is.