One thing that's truly amazing about Stephen Colbert is his maintenance of his fantastic character in almost every public setting. Which is what makes the moment above so arresting, and, to me, moving. He breaks character for a moment, and reveals the authentic Catholic beneath:
"I like talking about people who don’t have any power, and it seems like one of the least powerful people in the United States are migrant workers who come in and do our work, but don’t have any rights as a result. And yet, we still ask them to come here, and at the same time, ask them to leave. And that’s an interesting contradiction to me, and um… You know, “whatsoever you did for the least of my brothers,” and these seemed like the least of my brothers, right now. A lot of people are “least brothers” right now, with the economy so hard, and I don’t want to take anyone’s hardship away from them or diminish it or anything like that. But migrant workers suffer, and have no rights."
For me, this is an inspiring piece of Catholic testimony, informed by the words of Jesus and what Christianity - not Christianism - should stand for. Above all else, caritas. An agnostic reader writes:
This remark has struck me as the most sincere religious remark that I have heard in a long time.
And it can only come from someone who has read the bible, thought about its teachings, and decided to act on Jesus' call for compassion for the poor and outcasts. I am not religious. As a scientist, I have concluded that I can not say anything sensible about god's existence. I try to be a good human being though, have read the new testament and concluded that there a whole bunch of good learnings (don't do onto others etc), combined with a bunch of abject bullshit. But what Colbert said touched me deeply. Here's a man that stands up to most in his profession, a lot of the press, puts himself in a very vulnerable position and does what he reads in the bible: Stand up for the poor and powerless. It gives me a glimmer of hope for religion.
It reminds me that although religious leaders are corrupt insane bastards, individuals can get great inspiration and guidance for their actions. Colbert has now done more for illegal immigrants than any politician (except perhaps that lady that got him invited).
And on top of that, Colbert has been able to mock the Congressional insanity in its own House. He has proposed an insane solution to the problem (to stop eating fruits and vegetables) as well as a common sense solution (we could offer more visas to the immigrants) to the problem. He has been able to ask them directly: "Why isn’t the government doing anything?" He has been able to point out (almost beg) what they should be doing (both sides will work together on this issue in the best interest of America, as you always do.), and yet embarrassingly enough, his comment was greeted with laughter.
These are all things that the press should be doing, but forget because they're too busy getting and maintaining "access" and writing bad books to enrich themselves. Remember, Colbert is the host of the only program that was hosted an entire week from Iraq. Not a single news program, or any other program has done so.
As a non-religious person, I must objectively conclude that Stephen Colbert is the greatest American catholic of the moment.