Rorate Caeli

Catholics and Politics
Papal Reminders: Immigration - II

Now, among the rights of a human person there must be included that by which a man may enter a political community where he hopes he can more fittingly provide a future for himself and his dependents. Wherefore, as far as the common good rightly understood permits, it is the duty of that State to accept such immigrants and to help to integrate them into itself as new members.

Wherefore, on this occasion, We publicly approve and commend every undertaking, founded on the principles of human solidarity and Christian charity, which aims at making migration of persons from one country to another less painful.
Blessed John XXIII
Pacem in Terris

In its history, America has experienced many immigrations, as waves of men and women came to its various regions in the hope of a better future. The phenomenon continues even today, especially with many people and families from Latin American countries who have moved to the northern parts of the continent, to the point where in some cases they constitute a substantial part of the population. They often bring with them a cultural and religious heritage which is rich in Christian elements. The Church is well aware of the problems created by this situation and is committed to spare no effort in developing her own pastoral strategy among these immigrant people, in order to help them settle in their new land and to foster a welcoming attitude among the local population, in the belief that a mutual openness will bring enrichment to all.

Church communities will not fail to see in this phenomenon a specific call to live an evangelical fraternity and at the same time a summons to strengthen their own religious spirit with a view to a more penetrating evangelization. With this in mind, the Synod Fathers recalled that “the Church in America must be a vigilant advocate, defending against any unjust restriction the natural right of individual persons to move freely within their own nation and from one nation to another. Attention must be called to the rights of migrants and their families and to respect for their human dignity, even in cases of non-legal immigration”. ... The Church in America must be constantly concerned to provide for the effective evangelization of those recent arrivals who do not yet know Christ.

Many of the people to whom John Carroll and his fellow Bishops were ministering two centuries ago had travelled from distant lands. The diversity of their origins is reflected in the rich variety of ecclesial life in present-day America. Brother Bishops, I want to encourage you and your communities to continue to welcome the immigrants who join your ranks today, to share their joys and hopes, to support them in their sorrows and trials, and to help them flourish in their new home. This, indeed, is what your fellow countrymen have done for generations. From the beginning, they have opened their doors to the tired, the poor, the “huddled masses yearning to breathe free” (cf. Sonnet inscribed on the Statue of Liberty). These are the people whom America has made her own.


  1. Anonymous4:52 PM

    On the contrary:

    "The separation of families “is truly dangerous for the social, moral and human fabric” of Latin and Central American families, the pope told reporters aboard his plane. “The fundamental solution is that there should no longer be a need to emigrate, that there are enough jobs in the homeland, a sufficient social fabric,” he said. Short of that, families should be protected, not destroyed, he said. “As much as it can be done it should be done,” the pontiff said."

  2. Anonymous5:29 PM

    How do Pope Benedict XVI's words contradict what Pope John XXIII, Pope John Paul II, and Pope Benedict XVI have said about immigration? It is possible to support making immigration less painful for migrants while also supporting changes and improvements to a society that will reduce the incidence of persons emigrating to find work to support their families back home.

  3. The United States of America welcomes all LEGAL immigrants -- and we have them aplenty!

    --Guy Power

  4. Anonymous6:23 PM

    For those interested, Jim Kalb, who write for Modern Age, asked the question "Can a Catholic oppose immigration?" a few years ago and wrote a nice piece for his blog. Worth a look.

  5. This second post on the Papal Reminders on Immigration is more related to the religious obligation of Catholics and of the Church. I would ask all who wish to comment upon the legal aspects of immigration, on the concepts of "legal" and "illegal" immigration, and on the Natural Law principles applicable to it to read our first post on the issue and write their comments there.

  6. There is a fundamental difference between which immigration laws are supported or opposed, and the question of how immigrants are to be treated by us when they are here.

    There are many people who flee their homeland due to persecution and take refuge here. They enter "illegally", but if they prove their case they are given refugee or asylee status that leads to permanent residence. Merely opposing "illegal" immigration is too broad a brush.

    I know people who fled from the West Bank, from Egypt, from Pakistan, from Lebanon-- Catholics who were hunted and persecuted, beaten and tortured, whose family were killed, all for being Catholic. Should we send them packing because in their flight they had not the opportunity to file for a visa and be denied, or wait for years and hope they survived?

    My point here is that the reasons for immigration are many, and one can oppose with a good conscience immigration policies while still standing for due process of law and help for refugees, etc.

  7. Anonymous11:46 AM

    I think there are a few things to always keep in mind:

    1. EVERY country in the WORLD is a "nation of immigrants." America is not "special" in this regard.

    2. The overwhelming majority of immigrants in America over the last 30 years have immigrated for financial reasons -- in other words, they came here to make money; very few of them actually fled ANY kind of oppression.

    3. Few Americans really understand much at all about the nearly countless number of visas, worker permits, F1 (student) visas, 'day passes', 'vacation stamps', and diplomatic passports that are given out by our government. Not only are there a nearly infinite number of ways to get here legally, but a large number of employers are now flying and driving immigrants here, free of charge. Also, things like H-1B visas REQUIRE employers to purchase a plane ticket for their worker when their visa expires, or their employment ends with the company.

    In many large companies, immigrant workers are STRONGLY PREFERRED and are hired for ALL jobs over legitimate American applicants, regardless of who has the better credentials for the position. Immigrants who are employed in such companies on L-1, H-1B, or other easily-obtainable visas can be controlled, harassed, and intimidated.
    Unlike American citizens, they have no recourse whatsoever to the EEOC, the BBB, or the state and federal governments when they are physically abused or intimidated, sexually harassed, or fail to receive their paychecks. And THAT is why they are hired.

    The idea that they are "smarter" and "better" than their American counterpoints, one finds, is almost ALWAYS blabbered only from the mouths of the corporate executives who benefit from hiring them or from the mouths of the academic institutions who reap the benefits of their high-priced out-of-state tuition. Those who work with them and/or who have managed them know that immigrants are no different than anyone else: Some are smart, some are stupid, and most of them are simply average. Just like Americans.

    4. Few Americans really know much at all about the number of treaties that have been signed between the United States and other countries of the world recently that mandate UNLIMITED immigration FROM countries like Chile or Brazil, but don't allow Americans to immigrate in unlimited numbers TO Chile or TO Brazil.

    5. Few Americans realize that the laws governing immigration in their country are, for all practical purposes, almost entirely beyond their purview to change. NO visa or immigration allowance has EVER been rescinded, to my knowledge. Lobbyists that attempt to stop increases in immigration are rarely successful, in any meaningful way.

    6. Few Americans are aware that the 'diversity nuts' and the 'multi-culties' make it virtually impossible for European immigrants to come to America -- European countries receive yearly visa allotments that are practically nil; while non-European countries are given allotments in the tens of thousands, or hundreds of thousands. Moreover, government agencies that work with the INS have deliberately 'sprinkled' non-white immigrants into towns and counties that are largely white; while making statements in the local press that there is a "need" for "diversity" in these areas.

    Needless to say, no such programs to 'sprinkle' white immigrants into towns and counties that are largely non-white were ever put into place -- the implicit point appears to be that non-whites don't "need" to be diversified by having whites 'sprinkled' into their midsts.
    And what's more, these 'sprinkled' non-white immigrants tend not to stay in the towns in which they were 'sprinkled' -- almost the moment they hit the dirt in places like Iowa, or Nebraska, they hit the road for places like LA or San Francisco where they can find more of whom they consider to be 'their kind'.

    7. Every country in the world, except for America, has a government that controls their borders and enforces their laws on immigration. The country of Mexico guards their southern border with machine-guns, soldiers, and patrols; and aggressively questions ANY non-Mexican in their country. In many countries it is virtually IMPOSSIBLE to become a citizen, EVEN if you speak the language and have brought investments or a corporation to that country.

    So. It IS Catholic to care about immigrants and to help those in need. Charity towards immigrants is ALWAYS Catholic. But this doesn't mean that we become a country without realistic immigration laws or a country without borders. The economy is BAD in America now -- nobody can deny this. Real income, calculated AFTER normalizing for inflation, has risen a whole ONE PERCENT IN THE LAST TWENTY YEARS for the average American family (see recent story from the New York Times); while the cost of living has more than DOUBLED.

    Moreover, many of the Americans that are currently unemployed have been unemployed for several YEARS, and are HIGHLY unlikely EVER to find another job again. Many of them are becoming depressed, suicidal, violent, and addicted to alcohol -- several men were in the news in California a few years ago for shooting their entire families after they walked into work one morning and were told that they were losing their jobs; but that they first had to train their counterparts in India before they left at the end of the week.

    It is fair for ANY American to stand up for their rights and demand that their country's immigration laws be changed. There is NOTHING un-charitable, or un-Catholic, about wanting to feed your family, about wanting to keep your home, about wanting to save for retirement, or about wanting to keep your job. Most rational, anti-immigration folks are NOT racist and are NOT elitist. They know what they are talking about; and they know that things MUST change if America is to survive.

    Thank you.


  8. The problem is not the immigrants: the problem is the government and welfare state. Just abolish the welfare state and cut taxes and every honest person looking for a square deal should be welcome to the US. Then there would be no need in this country for anti-immigration thugs harassing Latinos, just secure the border to keep the bad guys out, not the fathers who need to feed their families.

  9. The orthodox Roman Catholic position on immigration is commendable provided there is no underlying agenda to facilitate illegal migration. One hopes Pope Benedict XVI did not imply those several millions who have broken the law in so doing.

    There were two occasions when the father of Padre Pio went to USA to find work in the endeavour to provide for his son's vocational studies. As the good Padre had such a devout and fervent Catholic mother such a rupture in the normal family circumstances was more than compensated in this case by Almighty God's omniscient Will and her strong practical faith.

    As someone who has benefited from an essentially overseas career and an adopted nationality, a certain demographic fluidity is preferable and evidently divinely approved - provided it is lawful.

  10. Anonymous5:02 PM

    I tend to be dissapointed by these posts on Immigration. I am under the impression that the blogmaster for this site is himself an immigrant (or perhaps 2nd generation). The issue in the US is not immigration, but legal vs illegal immigration. The natural law would allow for people to seek better lives in other countries. US law does so, also; people are allowed to emigrate here. However, the civil law has to consider other things as well. That's why the immigration process exists. My concern is that my father worked here his whole life, as did his father and his grandfather - these men helped to build the society that we have now. They did it for me. Why then, do people from other countries have a right to come and take from me that which my ancestors passed on to me (I agree with Bedwere)? Specifically, why are millions and millions of people from neighboring Mexico coming here and breaking our emmigration laws to get in? If there first act on US soil is to break our law, what am I supposed to do? Ignore it? Try doing that in any other country and see what happens. Pope Benedict is right - what's going on in Mexico that droves of Mexicans are coming here? Look to the root of the roblem. Mexico is free. They enjoy no human rights issues. They have no reason to come here except a hope to get more money. Is that a valid reason to immigrate? Is coveting a "right?" I have rights, also. I have a right to a society that is ordered by law. I stand by US immigration law - it does not violate natural law. Let everyone who wants to come here apply, the same as every other country. And when they come, please abide by our laws.


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