Cardinal Roger Mahony, Archbishop of Los Angeles, spoke on immigration reform in chapel this morning. I'd seen his picture all over the L. A. Times back when the child abuse scandal broke, and I'd seen him once at the L. A. Cathedral, also. He looked ridiculously tall then, going around the Cathedral courtyard in a tube shaped bright orange garment, throngs of short Latino families surrounding him, as he had to bend over to put his hand on each person's head, saying "And bless you, and bless you, and bless you ..."
Anyway, so he spoke at Fuller. He stood there, one arm hanging motionless at his side, and with the other hand holding several sheets of paper from which he read his address verbatim. He looked up only briefly, occasionally. He did employ vocal variety, but in a highly repetitive way, which made the sound of his voice kind of droning and monotonous, anyway. So when he started speaking I thought, "Gee, I had expected he'd be a more skilled orator."
But as the address went on, I was pretty much blown away by the relentless logic of his argument. Before this morning, every person whom I've heard speak on immigration issues has been impassioned--and in some cases virtually carried away with emotion. It's a fact I take very seriously, but I do not find it to be especially persuasive. I tend rather to be wary of people's reasoning when they seem on the verge of shouting or tears.
So I found it not just refreshing, but deeply affecting to have someone speak plainly, calmly and clearly about how our immigration system is broken and what we need to lobby for to help fix it. The Catholic Church has got some serious problems, but man! I can't help but admire the rational way they do theology.
I'm hoping a video of the address will be put up on Fuller's website. If it is, I'll put a link on here.