Skip to comments.Wanted: a balanced Catholic perspective on immigration
Posted on 07/31/2014 3:30:27 PM PDT by NYer
For a Christians, it seems, immigration is—or should be—a complicated issue. On the one hand, charity compels those of us who are comfortable to help those who are in need, including those who seek to escape from poverty, crime, or persecution. On the other hand, a legitimate concern for preserving our own law and culture require us to set some restrictions on immigration, lest it become a virtual invasion.
Recently I came across a statement that puts the matter nicely in perspective. It would be nice to see the same balance in statements that issue from Catholic leaders both in the hierarchy and on Capitol Hill. The statement first acknowledges the demands of charity….
The more prosperous nations are obliged, to the extent they are able, to welcome the foreigner in search of the security and the means of livelihood which he cannot find in his country of origin. Public authorities should see to it that the natural right is respected that places a guest under the protection of those who receive him.
… and then acknowledges the need for controls:
Political authorities, for the sake of the common good for which they are responsible, may make the exercise of the right to immigrate subject to various juridical conditions, especially with regard to the immigrants' duties toward their country of adoption. Immigrants are obliged to respect with gratitude the material and spiritual heritage of the country that receives them, to obey its laws and to assist in carrying civic burdens.
A nice balance, don’t you think? Wouldn’t the statements from the US bishops’ conference carry more weight if they included that perspective—recognizing the obligation of immigrants to obey the law, for instance? So why don’t we hear this sort of balanced perspective from Catholic leaders?
Oh, wait. We do.
He lost me right there at the start. Prosperous nations aren't "obliged" to do anything. Individuals may, based on their religious teachings, feel an obligation to help needy immigrants. But the state has no obligation to let immigrants in and force the taxpayer to pay for them. Period.
Romans 13:1-7 makes it abundantly clear that God expects us to obey the laws of the government. The only exception to this is when a law of the government forces you to disobey a command of God (Acts 5:29). Illegal immigration is the breaking of a governmental law. There is nothing in Scripture that contradicts a nation having immigration laws. Therefore, it is a sin, rebellion against God, to illegally enter another country.
Illegal immigration is definitely a controversial issue in the United States (and some other countries) today. Some argue that the immigration laws are unfair, unjust, and even discriminatory giving individuals justification to immigrate illegally. However, Romans 13:1-7 does not give any permission to violate a law just because it is unjust. Again, the issue is not the fairness of a law. The only biblical reason to violate a governmental law is if that law violates God’s Word. When Paul wrote the book of Romans, he was under the authority of the Roman Empire, led by perhaps the most evil of all the Roman emperors, Nero. Under that reign, there were many laws that were unfair, unjust, and/or blatantly evil. Still, Paul instructed Christians to submit to the government.
Are the immigration laws of the United States unfair or unjust? Some think so, but that is not the issue. All developed countries in the world have immigration laws, some more strict than the USA and some less strict than the USA. There is nothing in the Bible to prohibit a country from having completely open borders or to have completely closed borders. Romans 13:1-7 also gives the government the authority to punish lawbreakers. Whether the punishment is imprisonment and/or deportation, or even something more severe, it is within the rights of the government to determine.
The vast majority of illegal immigrants in the United States have come for the purpose of having a better life, providing for their families, and escaping from poverty. These are good goals and motivations. However, it is not biblical to violate a law to achieve something “good.” Caring for the poor, orphans, and widows is something the Bible commands us to do (Galatians 2:10; James 1:27; 2:2-15). However, the biblical fact that we are to care for the unfortunate does not mean we should violate the law in doing so. Supporting, enabling, and/or encouraging illegal immigration is, therefore, also a violation of God’s Word. Those seeking to emigrate to another country should always obey the immigration laws of that country. While this may cause delays and frustrations, these reasons do not give a person the right to violate a law.
What is the biblical solution to illegal immigration? Simple don’t do it; obey the laws. If disobedience is not a biblical option, what can be done in regards to an unjust immigration law? It is completely within the rights of citizens to seek to change immigration laws. If it is your conviction that an immigration law is unjust, do everything that is legally within your power to get the law changed: pray, petition, vote, peacefully protest, etc. As Christians, we should be the first to seek to change any law that is unjust. At the same time, we are also to demonstrate our submission to God by obeying the government He has placed in authority over us.
“Be subject for the Lords sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God” (1 Peter 2:1316).
Paragraph 2241 in the Catechism.
It doesn’t get more simple than this.
The Catechism is for the laity, a household manual.
The leadership is ignoring it. Certainly the leaders in this country, the USCCB, much like the governmental leaders are ignoring the Constitution and the rule of law.
Particularly the USCCB, in light of the fact that their position on this matter is led by immigrants who are NOT by LAW, to not involved themselves in government and politics. They are immigrants.
Catechism of the Catholic Church
2241 The more prosperous nations are obliged, to the extent they are able, to welcome the foreigner in search of the security and the means of livelihood which he cannot find in his country of origin. Public authorities should see to it that the natural right is respected that places a guest under the protection of those who receive him.
Political authorities, for the sake of the common good for which they are responsible, may make the exercise of the right to immigrate subject to various juridical conditions, especially with regard to the immigrants’ duties toward their country of adoption. Immigrants are obliged to respect with gratitude the material and spiritual heritage of the country that receives them, to obey its laws and to assist in carrying civic burdens.”
Between right and wrong??
and here are some citations for that paragraph 2241, and it falls under, according to the lead of the Chapter, the Fourth Commandment:
45 Rom 13:7.
46 Ad Diognetum 5,5 and 10; 6,10:PG 2,1173 and 1176.
47 1 Tim 2:2.
48 Mt 22:21.
Here’s para 2240, just prior:
the life of the political community.
2240 Submission to authority and co-responsibility for the common good make it morally obligatory to pay taxes, to exercise the right to vote, and to defend one’s country:
Pay to all of them their dues, taxes to whom taxes are due, revenue to whom revenue is due, respect to whom respect is due, honor to whom honor is due.45
[Christians] reside in their own nations, but as resident aliens. They participate in all things as citizens and endure all things as foreigners. . . . They obey the established laws and their way of life surpasses the laws. . . . So noble is the position to which God has assigned them that they are not allowed to desert it.46
The Apostle exhorts us to offer prayers and thanksgiving for kings and all who exercise authority, “that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life, godly and respectful in every way.”47
Just why is this guy writing in Catholic Culture and not citing the Catechism?
The paragraph following the 2241, states that people should ignore bad laws.
If this is what the USCCB thinks it’s doing then they need to do three things, in addition to proving why it is bad law:
1. Understand that Garcia and Gomez are not allowed to comment on governmental affairs. They grew up in another country, and are not by law allowed to interfere in our affairs.
2. Comment on the awful law of abortion, and not use ‘can’t interfere with government’ as an excuse
3. Take a cursory look at the state of our economy and see that even if this went according to some dream of theirs, that our kids already owe 250 grand a piece.
But, gee whillickers, even ole Bill is all gung-ho for dumping the illegals back where they came from.
This naive author is unfortunately a dia late and a peso short in trying to persuade his readers to follow his unrealistic theological Pied piping.
Fine but, make it regular and a fixed number.
“The more prosperous nations are obliged, to the extent they are able, to welcome the foreigner in search of the security and the means of livelihood which he cannot find in his country of origin. “
And how did prosperous nations become prosperous?
This leaves the sh**hole nations off the hook for their own corruption and mismanagement.
What foolish and damming fodder. We are supposed to be a nation of laws - if we do not like a law then we should change it - but - until it is legally changed and not by whim or inconvenience - we should abide by it - otherwise we will follow the history of other great nations (Roman Empire, Alexander, Attila the Hun, Ottoman Empire, etc, etc.).
Hopefully all our elected officials (local,state and federal) will wake up and do what is right for the legitimate people of The United States before sacrificing our country. No one wants to go down the tubes.
Why is he talking in terms of “nations” instead of individuals anyway?
What is a “prosperous nation”?
Right. The teaching is about prosperous people, not nations. The Catholic Left continually twists the obligations of individuals to help the poor into a national obligation to open the US Welfare State to the entire world and have the US taxpayer pay for it. There is absolutely nothing in any teaching that requires the US taxpayer to let the world in and then house and feed them.
Maybe others have already answered this, but let me blunder on ahead anyway.
Our (that is, Catholic) thought is not as centered on “rights” theory as on two strands of thinking that we weave together. One is the OT theme that justice includes generosity and solicitude for the needy. The other is the notion that (a) justice is “rendering what is due”; and (b) the needy, by virtue of being human, are ‘due’ assistance. All this lives under the heading “solidarity.”
Lest this sound like “from each according to his ability, to each according to his need,” the other ‘pole’ of Catholic social thought is “subsidiarity.” This means that while the hungry infant is ‘due’ nourishment, the people who ought to provide it are his family. If they can’t, then the neighborhood, the village, then the county, then the state ... and so forth.
The countries south of the Rio Grande bear a great shame because they have ducked their responsibility. Because mercy is a duty, we bear SOME obligation to care for those they neglect — but not in a way which cripples our own nation or which relieves rich Mexicans from their shame.
I haven't seen the USA referred to as a prosperous nation since constitutionally clueless voters have unthinkingly allowed misguided Democratic socialists to try to destroy it.
Also, with all due respect to the Catholic Church, Church leaders seem to be as clueless about the federal government's constitutionally limited powers as many patriots and general voters evidently are.
More specifically, the Church doesn't seem to be aware that the states have never delegated to the feds, expressly via the Constitution, the specific power to regulate immigration, and that the corrupt feds are likely using illegal immigrants as pawns in an attempt by Democratic socialists to continue their work of allegedly destroying the USA.
In fact, if Church leaders understood the federal government's constitutionally limited powers and the importance of enumerated rights versus 10th Amendment-protected state powers, then the Church may not be struggling as hard to protect its religious freedoms by attacks from activist judges and activist lawmakers.
They are bypassing the individual people and the individual Christians, and are going over our heads and instructing governments what to do to us.
This is just politics, not religion.
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.