the ministry of the word

By Diogenes (articles ) | May 20, 2006

Gumbleton gives us the four-square Gospel:

Did you ever ask yourself why so many people from Mexico and from Central America come north and are crossing our borders? No one likes to leave his or her home place, their native land. What caused the poverty down there, made it worse the last 10 or 15 years? It is the so-called free trade agreement that we have imposed upon Mexico through the North American Free Trade Act and the Central American Free Trade Act. It has caused millions of people to become poor. They can't support themselves and so they come north.

Marvelous, your Beatitude. But it fails to explain why thousands of underpaid Mexicans aren't rafting over to Haiti: no NAFTA there, after all.

Gumbleton's concern for the poor is honorable. Yet he's a bishop, not an economist. So why can't he use his pulpit to instruct us about our duties to the poor within the terms that the Gospels instruct us about them? Jesus teaches us in language everyone can understand: If we don't take care of the wretched in our midst, we'll burn in hell ("Father Abraham, send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame"). No mention of free trade agreements.

We know that we will be damned if we neglect those poor whose misery we are able to relieve, but the Gospels do not tell us whether this relief is to be accomplished by personal acts of generosity, or by creation of private charities to distribute alms, or by compelling our neighbors to fund a state-administered welfare system. Gumbleton, and you, and I, may have three different ideas about which approach is more meritorious for the soul of Dives and three different ideas about which is more effective for the relief of Lazarus. We may all be wrong. The Scriptures aren't.

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  • Posted by: - May. 22, 2006 2:17 PM ET USA

    Hey Bishop G! If the US is such a bad awful unfair icky uncompassionate place, how come those poor Mexicans risk their lives to get here illegally? If NAFTA is so terrible and CAFTA so egregious, then why aren't Canadians coming across the same way? Canada, despite its socialist tendencies, does not punish business that badly. Mexico, however, is a poor country of great people under a fearful government; I've been there lots! All they need is freedom and opportunity to excel.

  • Posted by: Eleazar - May. 22, 2006 12:22 PM ET USA

    I hate it when people start quoting scripture to accomplish their political agendas, as much as I hate to quote it in rebuttal, but let me remind you that Christ also said, “Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s…” which the Church has consistently interpreted as guidance to obey and respect civil authority. Those who are entering this country illegally, for any reason, should be working to resolve those problems in their own country.

  • Posted by: - May. 21, 2006 6:04 PM ET USA

    Saying nothing about B. Gumbleton's best plans for the poor or your own best plans for the poor, I say that your casual disrespect for the poor (to wedge in your own slice of sarcasm) is really a heartbreak. Do you think everyone can read this without objection: "But it fails to explain why thousands of underpaid Mexicans aren't rafting over to Haiti: no NAFTA there, after all"? Send the poor of Mexico to Haiti, where there are no jobs for ANYONE? For shame - to say what you said. .

  • Posted by: Vincit omnia amor - May. 21, 2006 11:39 AM ET USA

    Am happy authorities on NAFTA have addressed Gumbleton's remarks. I guess it figures that one who is supposed to be an expert on the Gospel & Church Teaching (as a Bishop) and can't get that right, shouldn't be trusted in understanding economics, sociology or history.

  • Posted by: - May. 21, 2006 12:29 AM ET USA

    The data on NAFTA are still incomplete. Bishop Gumbleton is unimpeachably right about one thing, though: Mexicans come north to escape poverty, corruption, hopelessness. Had we really wanted to strike at the source of evil, suffering and misery, we would have invaded Mexico in 2003 rather than the place I have been for the past ten months. The posturing Vicente Fox resembles Hussein in too many ways.

  • Posted by: Quadratus - May. 20, 2006 7:04 PM ET USA

    I am an American citizen born in Mexico. I am also a NAFTA specialist by profession. NAFTA has not impoverished Mexico, actually it has befitted the Mexican economy. I left Mexico looking for a better life with my parents. I want the freedom, the rule of law, the economic prosperity. There is nothing noble being kept poor by ignorance, thieving politicians, corrupt cops. Mexico is poor because it has failed to provide its citizens with freedom and because its corrupt culture.

  • Posted by: - May. 20, 2006 2:42 PM ET USA

    Blame NAFTA? It is all part of the one world conspiracy I suppose. Mexicans shirk their responsibility to improve their treatment of their own people and problems. Why should they when they can foist them off on us?We are being invaded and sapped of our economic energy. Taking back California may sound like a joke to us but immigrants boast of the day that is coming. In the meantime, I practice the corporal works of mercy. The Fox is in the hen house in more ways than one.

  • Posted by: - May. 20, 2006 12:29 PM ET USA

    This is right. What makes the elitists believe they can conquer poverty, AIDS, and the like? With man, nothing is possible and Matthew 26:11, Mark 14:7 tell us so. What immense arrogance and condescension to believe that the USA is either the source or the solution of social ills. It's more ludicrous to suggest that the United Sates Conference of Democratic Bishops has a tenable solution. Bono has more credibility. Bishop Gumbleton, please direct yourself to saving the unborn in Detroit.

  • Posted by: - May. 20, 2006 11:37 AM ET USA

    The Bishop does not explain why there has been constant immigration into California for the past half century, way before NAFTA. A PhD in economics is not one of the graces conferred by episcopal ordination.