Monday, October 20, 2008

Biden: "Not a JP Guy"

Oh, no. He did it again.

OK, again before... but same difference.

Just in case anyone thought the Democratic vice-presidential nominee Sen. Joe Biden's nationally-corrected foot-in-mouth on abortion was a one-off last month, segments of a 2007 interview with his hometown Wilmington News-Journal that never ran previously in the paper were unearthed and saw the light of print yesterday.

And, well... snips:
It is not choice. It's always a very, very, very difficult, difficult decision. I know that, my church has wrestled with this for 2,000 years.

We've always believed from the outset that abortion is wrong. But throughout the years, debated the degree to which it is wrong. There are always cases where it is never a first choice. It is always viewed as a dire decision. But throughout the church's history, we've argued between whether or not it is wrong in every circumstance and the degree of wrong. Catholics have this notion, it's almost a gradation.

We have mortal sins, venial sins, well, up until Pius IX, there were times when we said, 'Look, there are circumstances in which it's wrong but it is not damnation. Along came Pius IX in the 1860s and declared in fine doctrine, this was the first time that it occurred that it was absolute human life and being at the moment of conception.

It's always been a debate. I take my religion very seriously.
Further down comes the real kicker: "To sum it up, as a Catholic, I'm a John XXIII guy, I'm not a Pope John Paul guy."

As if it wasn't surreal enough already, no?

In a sidebar, Biden provides fresh written answers on abortion as a vice-presidential contender, noting that the Dem ticket "strongly support[s] Roe v. Wade, but we’re firmly committed to reaching common ground on this issue.

"We can do that by preventing unintended pregnancies," he added, "ensuring that pregnant women have access to pre- and post-natal healthcare, income support, parenting skills, and by making sure adoption is a real alternative. These things will help reduce the number of abortions.

"People who claim to be 'pro-life' and then vote against such measures are not affirming the full range of human life."

Whatever one's impressions on both, you can tell the latter is top of the ticket-grade; unlike the older quote, it doesn't make your head spin.

In the interests of fairness, the Delaware paper invited the Republican VP nominee to respond... but, by the looks of it, she had more pressing things to do.

Elsewhere, it's emerged that, not all that long ago, New York Gov. David Paterson's chief of staff was a Jesuit priest... the one who married and buried JFK Jr. and his wife.

* * *
Meanwhile, for those looking for a current ecclesial response to what the polls say is Issue #1, sorry -- got nothin' for you.

At least, not in this cycle... for that, you'll have to go back to the 1986 national letter -- you know, when the Jadot bunch still ruled the roost.

Then again, they did stake their rep on being pastoral.

That said, abortion isn't the only topic leadership's deigned to put in the national spotlight over recent days; on the back of Friday's first note on racism, in this morning's Washington Post comes an op-ed word on immigration from the bench's lead domestic policy guru, Bishop Thomas Wenski of Orlando:
The failure of comprehensive immigration reform last year, when Congress bowed to a vocal minority, unleashed a torrent of initiatives designed to demonstrate that the U.S. government can enforce our laws and secure our borders. In truth, intermittent work site raids, increased local law enforcement involvement and the creation of a wall along parts of our southern border, among other efforts, have done little to address the challenges presented by illegal immigration.

The most visible of these initiatives has been the work site raids in cities and towns across the nation. While these enforcement actions meet the political need to show government's law enforcement capabilities, they have had minimal effect on the number of undocumented workers in the United States.

Instead, they have caused dislocation and disruption in immigrant communities and victimized permanent U.S. residents and citizens, including children. The sweeping nature of these raids -- sometimes involving hundreds of law enforcement personnel with weapons -- has made it difficult for those arrested to secure basic due-process legal rights, including access to counsel. Some families have been split up indefinitely.

The involvement of local law enforcement in immigration enforcement, most prominently in Arizona and parts of the South, has greatly harmed the trust between immigrant neighborhoods and law enforcement and has diverted police from the work of apprehending criminals. The border wall and an unprecedented immigration enforcement buildup along our southern border have failed to deter new entrants to the United States and have discouraged immigrants from leaving.

Perhaps most damaging are the adverse, long-term effects these policies have had on immigrant communities. The overriding emotion many immigrants feel is fear. Not only do legal immigrants worry that a loved one may be swept away in a work site raid or after a knock at the door at home, they are fearful for their own futures -- and the futures of their children -- in the United States. This is not the way to encourage integration and responsible citizenship.

While some organizations that oppose immigration are delighted by this and hope such an atmosphere will lead to a mass exodus of illegal and legal immigrants, they are likely to be disappointed. What they do not acknowledge is that 70 percent of the undocumented have lived in this country for five years or longer and have no home to return to. These people identify themselves more as Americans than anything else and would rather live here in the shadows than take their U.S.-citizen children back to a place they do not know.

Opponents like to argue that our economy does not need the work of immigrants, now or in the future. Again, they are wrong. The Labor Department predicts that in the years ahead, despite the current economic slowdown, a shortage of low-skilled labor will exist in several important industries, for some beginning as early as 2010. As baby boomers begin retiring, immigrants will help support them by paying billions into the Social Security system.

To many elected officials, immigration has become the new "third rail" of American politics. Refraining from addressing this pressing domestic issue, however, will elevate tensions in states and localities, further alienate immigrants and their communities, and tacitly affirm the acceptance of a hidden and permanent underclass in our country.

The silver lining of this dark cloud upon our immigrant history is that it demonstrates that an enforcement-only approach to illegal immigration is ineffective and contrary to our national interests. A new administration and new Congress will be forced to act -- this time in a broad and balanced manner. Otherwise, the American people will be left pondering a wall and wondering why it is not working.