Church Leaders and Half-truths – Undermining Language

Propaganda: dissemination of information—facts, arguments, rumours, half-truths, or lies—to influence public opinion. Encyclopedia Britannica on line

When Church leaders choose to distort language, they really cannot claim that they are not politicizing a social issue. A report on Archbishop Gomez in the Catholic News Agency is an excellent example. To speak of people who are legally subject to deportation as “immigrants” or “undocumented immigrants” is at best a half-truth, and half-truths are the legerdemain of all political propaganda. These unfortunate deportees are in truth “illegal and therefore undocumented” immigrants. If you want to support their not being deported, fine, but then just say so, that these illegal immigrants should, for purposes of mercy, be granted full amnesty. That is a legitimate political position and bishops have a right to support such a position. But what they do not have the right to do is to engage in political propaganda under the guise of moral compassion and in the process undermine the very purpose of language which is to express truth.

The most egregious example of this is when he said the following: “They know that Pope Francis himself is the son of an immigrant. They know that he has the heart to understand what they are going through.”  Does he intend to imply that the Pope’s parents were illegal immigrants? And just what does he mean to suggest was the common ground of the Pope’s family and these illegal immigrants which would make him understand “what they are going through?” This surely reeks of using the papacy for political advantage.

Then we come to another aspect of this same article:
“A letter from Karla, a 15-year-old girl born in Los Angeles, told Pope Francis she has a ‘very religious’ family. Both her parents and her two older siblings are immigrants from Mexico.
“My mom is slowly going blind and my dad has a heart problem. My sister is in a wheelchair and she needs medical help, but they can’t get the medical help they need because they don’t have their legal documents,” she said.

If you or I were to travel to any European country we would not be eligible for medical treatment in that Country. Why should the citizens of France or Germany etc, be obliged to cover either a legal guest or an illegal immigrant’s medical costs. Yet that is precisely what this young girl is suggesting, and we certainly won’t blame her at her age under such circumstances. But what about the Archbishop? Does he agree with the whole content of this letter he is forwarding to the Pope?

Likewise, if I claimed to be an immigrant to that country, every single European nation would most certainly deport me so that the country of my true citizenship could fulfill its’ own obligations. Now are these European countries heartless and without conscience, or is the United States the only country that is not allowed to make such determinations regarding those who cross her borders and claim these rights?

Then we have this letter:
“Another young girl, Guadalupe, asked for the Pope’s help “to stop deporting families and separating families because its sad to see kids be separated from their parents and the kids ending up as orphans.”

Orphans? These children are not without any parents, so what can this choice of the word “orphan” mean? Now, would a child normally call herself an orphan when she knows her parents are alive, or was this perhaps language suggested by another more politically adept agent of propaganda? Language means nothing if this kind of propaganda is allowed to pass. When illegal immigrants in the past great periods of immigrants were deported to their native country, for whatever reason, they would likely not leave their children behind even if they were born in this country. These newly defined “orphans” are in this country without their parents simply because their parents left them behind, likely having been assured by pro-amnesty political groups that they would soon be reunited once the U.S. was forced to grant amnesty by political pressure. Now this political pressure is also coming from many Catholic Church leaders who adopt this abuse of language in supporting these otherwise legitimate political goals.

“Archbishop Gomez said he was forwarding the letters to the Pope. According to the archbishop, the U.S. government has deported nearly two million immigrants in the last four years
According to the archbishop, there are about 2.6 million undocumented immigrants in California and 11 million in the U.S. as a whole.”

If the Archbishop wants all this deporting business stopped, fine, but why does he not simply say so rather than “forwarding” a propaganda effort by the people acting as it were “in loco parentis”  and using these unfortunate children as their props?  Of course, such a position would lead to many questions about where they truly stand on national sovereignty when it comes to borders, an issue they usually answer with another slight of hand, that is, with endless qualifications that undermine any true defense of borders.

Church leaders may not see the damage done when they collude in degrading the truth value of language, but it is already biting the Church as their secular enemies use such half-truths to undermine its legitimacy in the public square. It will get worse if they undermine their own credibility when speaking such half-truths in what they see as an act of mercy.


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Littlemore Tracts

R. M. A. Pilon

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