This article is not intended to show bias against any foreign nationals or nations. But speaking of it addresses the situation whereby approximately 20% of the Priests in the RC church in the USA are foreign born. Some of these priests are permanent residents, or naturalized citizens and others travel back and forth under temporary contract and temporary work permits.
Before going further, let me state that two of America’s strongest, most dedicated and building saints were immigrants – Mother Cabrini and Bishop John Neumann. They were of course European and in those cases they spoke the same language as other immigrants.
There are some factors for these immigrant priests to be considered like the alien nature of the western American culture in terms of language, attitudes and diet. The following article is more PR than Journalism in describing priests on work permits from India working in the Scranton Diocese in Pennsylvania.
Priests from India help ease shortage in Scranton Diocese
I have read other articles whereby immigrant priests have terrible accents and can barely function in their homily roles or confession. They are imported sometimes more like bodies to fill a job - to perform the sacramentals.
I have read that it is easier to get an American priest put through a criminal background check for a foreign diocese than it is for an American diocese to get a criminal check done on an incoming immigrant worker priest coming from Africa, Asia or South America.
Indeed, many times American Bishops have to take the word of foreign bishops that the people being imported are of sound moral quality. We know how that game is played.
I do not want to address the sex abuse issue here and in conjunction with this topic for fear that I might be accused of trying to strike fear in the hearts of the Americans who now have foreign born priests doing the mass etc.
That being said, I know that a large percentage of Spanish speaking foreign priests compliment a growing Spanish speaking American population.
All these stats are unclear because they have as a source the American RC church and the stats may or may not be accurate enough for specific analysis. I’ve read figures of between 4,000 to 8,000 of the American RC priest work force is foreign born labor.
That being said, I knew of a local Spanish speaking priest who was highly thought of and died recently. He was 78 and was working to in essence send his monthly stipend or salary back to South America to support relatives.
But there you have it. Economic factors such as dwindling Catholic populations, church closings and consolidations and imported labor, outsourced from other nations is becoming one of the major factors in the American RC church today.
America in many of its population centers is now considered Missionary territory to be administered to by the rest of the world. An explosion of vocations in many poor nations produces a surplus of priests that can be exported, outsourced to American missionary territory.
This is probably why the Vatican wanted to reincorporate the Saint Pius X crowd even if Bishop Richardson and club were Holocaust deniers. This right wing group of Tridentine Traditional Catholics have seminarys full of Spanish speaking seminarians. They were assets worthy to be acquired as in recent news.
This whole thing of the American RC church and its Bishops and their Harvard spreadsheet business mentality is perhaps part of the cause of the dying RC church in America. Catholics want celibacy as an option and women ordained as priests. That is not going to happen. Impossible!
So haphazard shoddy business management has a cheap labor force to help thwart a need for real responsible dialogue and interface between the faithful and the hierarchy. The church in America reflects too much of the way America does business these days with native citizens being factored out of economic equations as the least important items to be considered when running the shop on American soil.