- The Washington Times - Friday, April 7, 2006

President Bush promised 1,600 Catholics gathered for the third annual National Catholic Prayer Breakfast yesterday that he would work for a “culture of life” and an immigration policy that includes “decency.”

“An immigration system that forces people into the shadows of our society, or leaves them prey to criminals, is a system that needs to be changed,” he said at the Washington Hilton.

“I’m confident that we can change … change our immigration system in ways that secures our border, respects the rule of law, and, as importantly, upholds the decency of our country.”

The breakfast — meatless because of Lent — is becoming an annual spring tradition among Catholics, an increasingly influential political constituency that in 2004 shifted the majority of its support to Mr. Bush.

“All are welcome to eat scrambled eggs with us and pray,” said Austin Ruse, prayer breakfast president. “We welcome Republicans, Democrats, conservatives, liberals, even libertarians.”

Immigration and the phrase “dictatorship of relativism” popularized by Pope Benedict XVI, were the main themes at the gathering. San Antonio Archbishop Jose Gomez introduced the president by reminding Mr. Bush he has “a historic opportunity to build American public policy on a framework that recognizes the dignity of every person.”

“Justice is both the aim and the intrinsic criterion of all politics,” he said, quoting a recent papal encyclical. “The state must inevitably face the question of how justice can be achieved here and now.”

However, within a few hours of the archbishop’s remarks, two immigration bills before the Senate failed overwhelmingly to pass procedural votes, dimming the prospect that any legislation that offers the path to citizenship to illegal aliens will pass this year.

Breakfast guests, including Republican Sens. Sam Brownback of Kansas and Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, 11 members of the House and Supreme Court Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., got a lecture from Madison, Wis., Bishop Robert C. Morlino on the “relativism” phrase.

“There are many language games being played,” he said, as Chief Justice Roberts sat a few feet away. “Supreme Court justices, we’re told, should be ‘uniters, not dividers’ when it comes to Roe vs. Wade. How ironic, since Roe vs. Wade has become our great source of division. Now to be a uniter means to uphold that which divided us in the first place.”

He then criticized 55 Catholic Democrats in the House who published a Feb. 28 statement saying their “primacy of conscience” at times overrules church teaching on abortion and other issues.

“The dictatorship of relativism gains strength from the outrageous manipulation of language,” Bishop Morlino said, “and if we are to overcome the dictatorship with true democracy, we’re going to have to regain control of the use of language so as to point to the objective truth.

“Certain Catholic legislators recently received a correction from our bishops’ conference when they attempted to promote a ‘redefinition’ of primacy of conscience … another example of surrender to the dictatorship of relativism.”

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