Even the Roman Catholic Church’s top American leaders are not immune from the earthly allure to virtue signal on immigration. Both ordained and lay Catholic voices, have argued that people of faith have a moral duty to accept the “Dreamers,” to support DACA, and indeed, to oppose the Trump Administration’s policies on immigration.
This weekend, one American cardinal, Joseph Cardinal Tobin of the Archdiocese of Newark (New Jersey), declared that American Catholics have a “duty” to call their elected representatives to support the Dreamers.
However, truth can be inconvenient. Even for learned Church prelates. Tobin and others have selectively picked and chosen from Church teachings. In so doing, they’ve ignored concepts of duty and responsibility.
A careful reading of comments on actual Catholic social teaching from the United States Catholic Conference of Bishops, reveals that the current Catholic Church’s embrace of open borders is, ahem, misplaced.
While individuals have the right to move in search of a safe and humane life, no country is bound to accept all those who wish to resettle there. By this principle the Church recognizes that most immigration is ultimately not something to celebrate. Ordinarily, people do not leave the security of their own land and culture just to seek adventure in a new place or merely to enhance their standard of living. Instead, they migrate because they are desperate and the opportunity for a safe and secure life does not exist in their own land. Immigrants and refugees endure many hardships and often long for the homes they left behind. As Americans we should cherish and celebrate the contributions of immigrants and their cultures; however, we should work to make it unnecessary for people to leave their own land.
Because there seems to be no end to poverty, war, and misery in the world, developed nations will continue to experience pressure from many peoples who desire to resettle in their lands. Catholic social teaching is realistic: While people have the right to move, no country has the duty to receive so many immigrants that its social and economic life are jeopardized.
Recent years have seen the Roman Catholic Church demonstrate its worldly fallibility as an institution, while on doctrinal issues, under the current Pope (Francis I), the Church has moved clearly to the Left.
Yet as recently as 1996, Pope Saint John Paul II wrote:
When no solution is foreseen, these same [social and charitable] institutions should direct those they are helping, perhaps also providing them with material assistance, either to seek acceptance in other countries, or to return to their own country.
The rejection of some unconditional duty to receive refugees is clear. The individual’s plight is not ignored; it is, however, not treated as the only factor to be considered to the deliberate exclusion of the hosts. The current Church would do well to follow it. Its own faithful — and its own benefactors — deserve to be ministered to as well, and not viewed solely as a silent audience of putative sinners (and donors) whose Americanism equates to irredeemability.
In societies where cultural traditions emphasis liberty over obedience, freedom over force, and the individual over the collective, shaming your faithful is a recipe for falling Church attendance, falling Church donations and closing institutions. Indeed, in many places, the Church has been closing schools and hospitals, merging parishes and selling off its properties — often bought eagerly by growing Moslem congregations. It’s alarming that Roman Catholic Church leaders are increasingly electing to attack America’s faithful, in favor of pursuing acceptance by “the world.”