By Frank Wessling
A married couple in the Vatican?
Late in February Pope Francis made 19 bishops from around the world cardinals. This puts those men among the small group of close advisors to the papal office. For the occasion, the whole College of Cardinals, 213 men, was invited to Rome for meetings to discuss the state of the Catholic Church.
Among suggestions that may have been aired in that meeting was a radical one from Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga of Honduras, a rising influence in the pope’s inner circle. He told a French newspaper that a married couple should head the Pontifical Council for the Family. And he said that council should be raised in status to a full Vatican congregation, the highest level of bureaucracy at the Vatican.
The wonderful common sense of this idea makes one believe that our apparently endless winter snow and ice here in eastern Iowa really will give way to spring.
A reasonable policy
The American Farm Bureau Federation paid for a study of U.S. immigration policy and its impact on the cost of food. A report on that study issued last month suggests that what some people say they want — strict enforcement of laws limiting immigration and deportation of undocumented people — would be a pocketbook disaster.
Fruit production in this country would fall by 30 to 61 percent over five years, the report says; vegetable production would be cut by 15 to 31 percent; and livestock production would be down 13 to 27 percent. Prices would shoot skyward because of both scarcity and the extra cost of importing more of our food.
Why would such a loss of American production occur? Because few of us want to do the work at the pay offered. Immigrants, who historically will scramble for any work available, do most of the hard, dirty jobs. And some of them are “illegal.” Bob Stallman, Farm Bureau president, noted that “Most Americans believe they have outgrown farm work.” And this means “we either import our labor or we import our food.”
This is more evidence that immigration policy must include a reasonable path to legal residency for the undocumented who are already settled in this country.
Another implication from the Farm Bureau study is that some kind of official guest worker policy might be good. Perhaps. The record in such arrangements here and elsewhere in the world is not good. The people who want cheap labor are generally powerful interests able to ensure that any official oversight and regulation is weak.
If agricultural interests believe they need immigrant labor, they should be willing to open their practices to public review in exchange for that benefit. A guest worker program might be humane if its terms are well understood and carried out in the open.
“The gradual depletion of the ozone layer and the related ‘greenhouse effect’ has now reached crisis proportions as a consequence of industrial growth, massive urban concentrations and vastly increased energy needs. Industrial waste, the burning of fossil fuels, unrestricted deforestation, the use of certain types of herbicides, coolants and propellants: all of these are known to harm the atmosphere and environment.”
That quote is not from a global warming fanatic. It comes from the 1990 Message for the World Day of Peace issued by Pope John Paul II. He could see the evidence for a man-made environmental crisis 24 years ago. What to do? He said we need to take “a serious look at (our) lifestyle” and adopt more “simplicity, moderation and discipline, as well as a spirit of sacrifice” in everyday life.
In other words, what sounds like a program for Lent should be the path for life.