DeSantis spokeswoman charges Miami archbishop with lying about governor’s migration remarks

Christine Rousselle   By Christine Rousselle for CNA


Florida Governor Ron DeSantis appoints judges to Miami’s Eleventh Judicial Circuit Court, March 27, 2019. / Hunter Crenian/Shutterstock.

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Feb 16, 2022 / 16:37 pm (CNA).

The governor of Florida is taking issue with an ad campaign featuring a quote from Archbishop Thomas Wenski criticizing the governor for his views on immigration.

In a Feb. 15 tweet, Christina Pushaw, the press secretary for Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R), said that “lying is a sin” in reference to a recent ad campaign featuring the Wenski’s words.

“And yes, if someone makes a false statement, whether it’s an organization of CEOs for illegal immigration or the Archbishop, I will call it like it is. They made a blatantly false statement and they should retract it,” she said.

Pushaw, a Catholic, said that she has “no antipathy toward any religion” and that “Catholics do not have to support illegal immigration or human smuggling.”

The advertisements, placed by the American Business Immigration Coalition Action, quote Wenski claiming that DeSantis called immigrant children “disgusting.”

“DeSantis wants to eliminate immigrant children’s shelters in Florida, like the ones that housed Cuban children who came alone during the Pedro Pan exodus in the 1960s,” said the Spanish-language advertisement.

An English translation of the advertisement was published on its Vimeo page.

“To please his political base, DeSantis wants to convince us that the suffering of those children was more worthy of help than that of these Venezuelan and Haitian children who are fleeing dictatorship, socialism and violence,” said the ad. “That’s why many of the Pedro Pans, who today are pillars of this community, are expressing their outrage alongside Catholic Archbishop Wenski and business leaders.”

Operation Peter Pan, also known as Operación Pedro Pan, was a clandestine program in the early 1960s that brought 14,000 unaccompanied Cuban minor children to the United States amid fears that Fidel Castro would seize custody of children to indoctrinate them to communism.

The program ended in October 1962. About 90% of the “Pedro Pans” were eventually reunited with their parents during the “Freedom Flights” exodus from Cuba.

DeSantis issued an executive order in December that prohibited state regulators from issuing licenses to shelters that house unaccompanied minors in partnership with the federal government. The governor said that he believed funding these shelters would be akin to cooperating with human smuggling.

It is unclear how many unaccompanied minors found at the U.S. border are victims of human trafficking.

On Feb. 7, DeSantis told a group of former Pedro Pan participants that the comparison between their situation and the current unaccompanied minor crisis was “disgusting.”

In a press conference on Feb. 10, Wenski condemned this rhetoric, saying it was a “new low in the zero-sum politics of our divisive times.”

“At Governor DeSantis’ Monday meeting with a few former Pedro Pan kids in Miami’s Museum of the Cuban Diaspora, he described any comparison of unaccompanied minors from Cuba in the early 60’s with those from Central America today as ‘disgusting’”, Archbishop Thomas Wenski said during a Feb. 10 press conference.

“Children are children — and no child should be deemed ‘disgusting’ — especially by a public servant,” he continued at his Feb. 10 press conference.

The Archdiocese of Miami declined to comment when reached for contact, telling CNA that they were not behind the ads and that “any communication involving the Governor and the Archbishop would be conducted between them, not through the media.”

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  1. According to Abp. Wenski’s own phrasing of Gov. DeSantis’ statement, “he described any comparison of unaccompanied minors from Cuba in the early 60’s with those from Central America today as ‘disgusting’”.

    In the next sentence, the archbishops says “no child should be deemed ‘disgusting’ — especially by a public servant.”

    What public servant did, Your Excellency? Certainly not Gov. DeSantis – by your own admission. He was addressing the “parallel,” which many Floridians of Cuban heritage find contemptible.

    Clearly Abp. Wenski is passionate about his advocacy, but he would likely deem it unjust if DeSantis were to twist the archbishop’s statements in like manner.

    Note also that Democrats, led by “Catholics for Biden” Co-Chair – had a $100,000 attack ad ready **as soon as the archbishop made his remarks.**

    Who tipped them off early?

    An apology is in order. +Wenski’s staff fed him false talking points. Fire the bureaucrat(s) responsible and apologize. Honor is more important than federal funding of the USCCB’s immigration NGO’s.

  2. A plain reading of the transcript shows beyond a doubt that Archbishop Wenski lied about what DeSantis said. One refreshing thing about the Florida governor is that he gives it as well as he takes it. He does it better, in fact. It surely helps to have the truth on one’s side. Wenski and his flacks should have known that by now. Perhaps one day DeSantis will train his fire on Wenski’s boss in Rome. It would be most welcome.

    Separately, this incident highlights again the unholy alliance of the Catholic hierarchy with the cheap labor lobby and the Marxists of the Democratic Party. Every faithful Catholic should find it appalling.

  3. More Catholics need to call out our bishops openly when they lie so blatantly. And they do it quite often, especially when politics is involved. The bishops have shown repeatedly that they will do almost anything for their Democrat financiers.

  4. In these days of plots so thick and twisted, readers appreciate any unravelling and unveiling of truth. Benefit of doubt extended in the archbishop’s direction shows greatness. May the blame game begin within the ecclesial-secular bureau-scratchit, and leave DeSantis out of it.

  5. For the Archbishop to implicitly condone the migration of unaccompanied children, frequently subject to sexual molestation is itself immoral. For the Archbishop to distort the words of Governor Desantis claiming Desantis said children [rather than policy] are disgusting is slander, plain, clear, and simple. Being an Archbishop doesn’t remove culpability for either.
    This what occurs in our nation when too many of our bishops become politicians in support of Pope Francis’ policy of open borders, and support by acclaim and vote the socialist leaning Party that supports and finances it. And a reason why the Church here continues to disintegrate in numbers, and why laity offer little support to the USCCB.

    • It may well have been a slip of the tongue, with a bit of stretching. I regret my judgment. Although he should have corrected his remark.

  6. Its unfortunate that church hierarchy has chosen to defend and encourage illegal immigration. Great evils result from illegal immigration. Sex trafficking, drug dealing,gang activity, and rising crime of all kinds result from it. There is also great pressure on public taxpayer funds for their care, support and education, which by rights should go to the LEGAL CITIZENS who need it. Not to illegals.Illegal immigration is NOT a victimless crime and its too bad that so many Bishops are so insulated from the reality of trying to earn a living and pay bills, that they “OK” illegal immigration as some sort of benign welfare scheme. Not to mention the moral gymnastics required to justify an illegal act which breaks the law.These peoples OWN nation have a moral obligation to care for them. Not us. Ask the parent of a child murdered by an illegal exactly how benign the practice of illegal immigration really is.Maybe the Bishops should wring their hands over THEM for a change.

  7. No surprise: Bishop Wenski is a blatant liar.

    That makes him a candidate to be selected a Cardinal, in the fashion of His Eminence “$2 Million” Wuerl, who earned the distinction of this headline by the Ed Flynn before he left the CNA: Cardinal Wuerl Denies Denying that he Denied Knowing about McCarrick Molesting Seminarians.” (I think it was Seminarians, if memory serves.)

    It was published right here on these pages at CWR.

    It’s a new tradition…of sorts.

  8. From the article:
    “Venezuelan and Haitian children who are fleeing dictatorship, socialism and violence”
    Since the pandemic hit we’ve been seeing members of the ruling establishment elite behaving like autocrats. They are often found in violation of their own rules. Many of them either said nothing or made excuses for the so-called “mostly peaceful” 2020 “Summer of Love.” As I recall VP Kamala Harris was active in arraigning bail money for the “Summer of Love” rioters. Many progressive DAs let the SOL rioters walk. Compared to this Jan 6 was weak sauce. When the ruling establishment elites got a taste of their own medicine it was the end of the world as we know it. Too much rules for thee and not for me.
    The problem with socialism, and communism is the unaccountable concentration of power in an all powerful state. Many Catholic Social Teaching advocates show a strong tilt towards statist solutions. The dictatorship, socialism and violence charges can be applied to the hard left Democratic party.

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