You’d think Catholic bishops would have more common sense – to say nothing of a better understanding of basic Catholic teachings.

I thought they were smarter than that. Don’t they see the handwriting on the wall?

But, no, I hope for too much. Part of me clings to the belief that men of the cloth, at that level especially, would put their religion and the teachings of Christ ahead of crass politics.

Politics? In the Church? You bet and, quite frankly, the good men in the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, or USCCB, are in it up to their eyebrows and are playing with fire.

Think “immigration” – more specifically “immigration amnesty.”

Until recently, the Church played a somewhat background role in its position on immigration – uh, no, not just “immigration,” which is usually benign and refers to the legally accepted procedures for a person from one country to enter another.

Where the Church has dramatically changed is in the issue of illegal immigration.

Not content to make random comments of support of making illegals “legal,” there’s now a massive plan involving advertising, phone calls and marches, to push the issue, and to have nationwide Sunday sermons in support of across-the-board amnesty. Kevin Appleby, USCCB director of migration policy, told the New York Times, the hierarchy considers this a “now or never moment.”

In other words, anyone in this country without the proper legal papers, should be allowed to stay with legal status because … well, because they’re breathing and because they want to be here and besides, it’s the Christian thing to do.

That’s essentially the spiel to rank and file parishioners, which is quite frankly, pushing a guilt trip on them. The rest of the plan is to steamroll Congress.

Just check the USCCB website. It’s all spelled out. They want immigration reform passed and soon!

It’s felt that if the hierarchy talks about amnesty and immigration reform, it will not only put the squeeze on elected officials, it will get parishioners to pressure Washington.

Remember, elections are coming, and politicians want every vote they can get. If they can subvert religious teaching to get that support, so be it.

As for the Church, they almost compare illegals to Christ, and I don’t mean that as sacrilege. To hear some of the sermons I’ve heard over the months, you’d think that every illegal in this country is holy and pious.

Would that were true, but it isn’t and there are the statistics of abuse and crime to illustrate reality.

Illegals are just people, and in the mix are all the good and bad traits of which humans are capable. To pretend otherwise is patently deceptive, especially when expressed by people who represent God – and the Catholic hierarchy does just that.

When a priest, bishop or cardinal speaks from the pulpit or writes under his religious byline or as a member of the USCCB, he represents his Church and his God. His position carries weight and influence, and that’s the problem.

He tries to shame people into supporting legalization for the 11 million illegals they say are here. But that’s a fake figure they’ve used for years, ignoring that more than a million cross the border annually. It’s more than 35 million, but no one really knows.

The accusation is that being against immigration reform implies you degrade the humanity of those people.

What nonsense!

Wanting people to be in this country legally has nothing to do with their humanity. It has to do with the responsibility of a country to assure safe and secure borders for citizens and that everyone who enters the country obeys the laws.

For a Church that stresses the Ten Commandments and the Bible and the Catechism and that teaches the difference between right and wrong, truth and lies, honesty and deception – it’s strange and troubling to hear spokesmen endorsing lawbreakers and wanting them to get blanket forgiveness and to collect all the benefits of citizenship by doing essentially nothing.

As for playing with fire, it appears Church Fathers haven’t paid attention to the growing movement to demand that all churches lose their tax-free status.

That’s the long-standing nod by government recognizing the good work traditionally done by churches, but it carries with it the expectation that the hierarchy steer clear of politics.

That’s why you don’t hear sermons focusing on candidates or homilies promoting or denigrating legislation they may or may not favor.

I admit, they get pretty close to the line sometimes, but generally it’s a line they don’t cross. It’s too expensive a risk.

Tax exemption is a terrific perk for churches – and one they should want to maintain, but with the immigration push and the controversies over the requirements of Obamacare, that may be about to change.

And, quite frankly, if they continue to push amnesty and if they cave to the demands of Obamacare provisions, they’ll deserve to lose that tax exemption.

Unfortunately, playing loose with morality is affecting Catholic teaching to their young. The University of Notre Dame just announced it will admit illegal aliens as students and will meet all their financial needs!

Don Bishop, associate vice president of undergraduate enrollment, was quoted in the Washington Times as saying it would “strengthen their incoming class and give deserving young people the chance for a Notre Dame education.

What sophistry. I would suggest they just open enrollment to “deserving” students from anywhere in the world, not just illegals in this country.

It’s all a trap – with the Church creeping toward the center of a web and about to be swallowed by the waiting federal spider.

“Forgive them, Father, they know not what they do.”

Except, they know exactly what they’re doing.

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