Commentary: Cardinal Mahony and immigrants

By Charles G. Ferrell
Editor

I got raked over the coals by a letter writer over the Record Gazette editorial I wrote last week regarding illegal immigration and the lies and misinformation that are being spread about the issue.

The letter writer apparently had no problem with my assessment of the overall issue, but took strong exception to comments I made about Los Angeles Catholic Cardinal Roger Mahony and his role in the issue.

Here is the letter:

Dear Editor:

Your April 14 editorial "Tragedy of lies and misinformation" contains two sentences apparently written in haste and not consistent with the facts:

"Even Los Angeles Catholic Cardinal Roger Mahony, a man who on countless occasions has refused to identify members of his own clergy who were involved in child molestation, is guilty of inciting this anti-American, pro-illegal immigration behavior. The media keeps calling the Cardinal 'pro-immigration,' when in fact the religious leader is strongly pro-illegal immigration."

The complete list of accused priests and their alleged offenses could be read at the Los Angeles Archdiocese web site www.archdiocese.la from 2002 until mid-2004. The document is still available by written request or online at www.bishopaccountability.org.

Cardinal Roger Mahony says we should feed and clothe the poor and give them medical care without asking their immigration status. Here in the Pass Area, organizations like Carol's Kitchen and San Gorgonio Memorial Hospital do this every day. This is not anti-American, pro-illegal immigration behavior.

You said that the media keep calling the Cardinal "pro-immigration." This charge has never been made by a newspaper or by a radio or television station. It's true that he opposes sections of HR 4437 that would force priests, ministers and rabbis to become "quasi-immigration enforcement officials." The U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee also opposes these sections of HR 4437. This stand is neither "strongly pro-illegal immigration" nor shameful.

Editorials in the Record Gazette should be written carefully and accurately.

Terrence Halloran, Beaumont

For starters, I am grateful that people like Mr. Halloran read the Record Gazette and care enough about their hometown newspaper to try to guide us in the right direction when they feel we have strayed.

I wasn't clear about his comment about the media "charging" that Cardinal Mahony is "pro-immigration." The media continues to refer to Cardinal Mahony as "pro-immigration," but that is meant as a compliment and not as a "charge."

The fact is that most of us, including me and Cardinal Mahony, are pro-immigration. The issue on the table at this time is pro-illegal immigration and what our nation needs to do about the millions of people who are here illegally.

Mr. Halloran also took exception to the comment I made in the editorial regarding the Cardinal's unwillingness to release information regarding priests who have been accused of molesting children. He argues the Cardinal has been forthcoming in this matter and cites a website where information is available.

However, if that is the case and the Cardinal and the Catholic Church has been so cooperative with prosecutors and alleged victims, why did the U.S. Supreme Court this week order the release of information of an on-going investigation into a pair of child abuse cases that the church has been refusing to release for four years? That's certainly not cooperation.

We all pray for the leadership of the Catholic Church to put the needs of its parishioners over the need to protect the priests who have been accused of these terrible things.

I stand by the editorial, which correctly points out that the debate of the day is not over immigration, as some have claimed, but illegal immigration and the impacts it is having on our nation.

I do need to apologize for misspelling the Cardinal's last name in the editorial.

I spelled Cardinal Mahony's name "Mahoney," like the Winchell & Mahoney cartoon show's Jerry Mahoney. I was a big fan of that show as a child.