(House of Representatives - April 17, 2008)

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[Page H2472]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office []


  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Under a previous order of the House, the 
gentleman from Colorado (Mr. Tancredo) is recognized for 5 minutes.
  Mr. TANCREDO. Madam Speaker, I rise today to also welcome Pope 
Benedict XVI to the United States and to Washington, D.C., and 
congratulate him for delivering an important message on the role that 
faith plays in the lives of every believer.
  Over the years, the Vatican has been a strong voice for religious 
freedom, for human rights, and was an invaluable partner in defeating 
Communism during the Cold War. The Catholic Church has long been a 
source of charity and benevolence helping some of the world's most 
vulnerable people in some of the world's most dangerous places.
  However, as President Bush welcomes Benedict XVI to Washington this 
week, Americans might be surprised to know that the Pope isn't here 
just to minister to his flock. He's here to lobby for amnesty for 
illegal aliens. According to news reports, the Pope met with President 
Bush yesterday to add his voice to the open border lobby by encouraging 
the President to give the 20 to 30 million illegal aliens in this 
country a free pass to stay here.
  Now, I'm not taking issue with the Pope's moral authority. I respect 
his views on the threats of Islam, the sanctity of human life. But I 
don't think it's in his job description to engage in American political 
  Worse yet, the Pope chided America, insinuating that immigrants are 
subject to ``violence'' and prevented from leading ``dignified lives.'' 
Madam Speaker, I would like to know what part of our American lax 
immigration policy is ``violent.'' I fail to see how accepting more 
refugees than any other Nation while providing free health care, free 
education, free housing and free social service benefits to millions of 
illegal aliens in this country is in any way degrading to them or 
  I would like to remind the Pope that America has long been dedicated 
to the principle of the rule of law, and there is absolutely nothing 
inhumane about American immigration statutes or the robust but 
civilized enforcement of it.
  But perhaps the Pontiff has made these comments with a motive more 
broad than simply spreading the gospel. It's no secret that the 
Catholic Church has been having difficulty maintaining its membership 
levels and a growing number of religions are competing for 
  Indeed, the Wall Street Journal recently reported that the ``Catholic 
Church has long been losing members and as much as a third of the 
native-born Catholic population is diminished. Meanwhile it has gained 
members among foreign-born (mostly Hispanic) residents.''
  Madam Speaker, it's possible and unfortunate that the Pope's 
immigration comments may have had as much to do with spreading the 
gospel as it does recruiting new members to the Church.
  I regret that the Pope used some of his time with the President to 
engage in faith-based marketing trying to attract new parishioners 
instead of preaching amnesty for illegal aliens to try and enlarge the 
size of the global Catholic congregation. I would urge the Pope to 
subscribe to the wisdom of one of his cardinals, Cardinal Biffi. A few 
years ago, the cardinal told The Times of London, ``Countries can 
choose to let in whoever they want. There is no such thing as a right 
of invasion.''
  Madam Speaker, the United States already has a legal immigration 
system unparalleled in its generosity. In the meantime, we assist 
illegal aliens, and those affected by them, by reimbursing hospitals 
for costly illegal emergency room hospital visits, providing free 
public education to illegal alien children. I would challenge the Pope 
to name any other country on Earth that demonstrates this kind of 
compassion on such a large scale.
  I hope, Madam Speaker, that the American people will welcome the Pope 
with open hearts and open arms but that they will reject his demand to 
replace our efforts to achieve genuine border security with a faith-
based immigration system.