Monday, June 19, 2006

John Paul II on Immigration

When one looks for a "Catholic" position on immigration, the best beginning is with John Paul II. You will note that his position is not the same as the one presented by Cdl. (Cesar Chavez) Mahony of Los Angeles...

This is taken from "Cooperatores Veritatis" (Words of JPII are italicized)

Pope John Paul II, by contrast, understands the problem of illegal immigration as complex and delicate. And as such, the debate should not be framed in the rather simplistic terms it is presently framed in by both sides. He begins his message thus: "The phenomenon of migration with its complex problems challenges the international community and individual States today more than ever."

"Thus migration loses that dimension of economic, social and cultural development which it had in the past. In fact, there is less and less talk of the situation of 'emigrants' in their countries of origin, and more and more of 'immigrants', with respect to the problems they create in the countries where they settle. Migration is assuming the features of a social emergency, above all because of the increase in illegal migrants which, despite the current restrictions, it seems impossible to halt."

I think it is worth noting that the Holy Father does not include illegal migration at this juncture as having the a "dimension of economic, social and cultural development".

"Illegal immigration should be prevented, but it is also essential to combat vigorously the criminal activities which exploit illegal immigrants. (n.2)"

The next sentence in the pope's message is an important one: "The most appropriate choice, which will yield consistent and long-lasting results is that of international cooperation which aims to foster political stability and to eliminate underdevelopment."

Others have pointed out that the Mexican economy is so poorly managed that it's now virtually dependent on dollars remitted by illegals. Has GWB asked Vincente Fox to clean up the corruption?

For instance, in the case of Mexico, it is clear that that rampant cronyism and corruption in its government and much of the general culture is what holds many of the Mexican populace in absolute squalor. This desperate situation drives many of them to go to the lengths of risking their own lives to come into the U.S. illegally for even the faintest hope of securing a decent livelihood for themselves and their families.

In difficult situations like that created by illegal immigration, the temptation to place inordinate blame on the illegal aliens themselves is great. The Pope warns against this danger: " It is necessary to guard against the rise of new forms of racism or xenophobic behavior, which attempt to make these brothers and sisters of ours scapegoats for what may be difficult local situations.(n.4)"

The essay on "Cooperatores" is well-written and balanced--worth reading in its entirety.

But it is no longer necessary to swallow 'the line' of certain Bishops as though it were Authoritative Catholic Teaching. It ain't. And it is worth remembering that JPII knows a LOT about immigration issues, worldwide.


Billiam said...

If I may be so bold, why, then, doesn't Benedict tell him to knock it off? Last time I checked, the American RCC is not independent of Rome. Or do we have a rift brewing. We've seen what that's doing to the Anglicans.

Dad29 said...


In the case of immigration, we're in the realm of 'prudential judgment,' not doctrine or dogma. That's why B-16 doesn't ask Cdl. Mahony to shut up.

It also seems to be the case, however, that dissenters from FAR more important issues are allowed to run their mouths without too much interference from Rome.

I think it's a lesson: after all, the only soul that we can actually save is our own. It's also a great opportunity for RC's to "look it up" (in a reliable source, of course) in order to have better understanding of the truths on their own.

Finally, there's been "a rift" brewing in the Church for, well, about 1970 years or so--beginning with Judas. LOTS of others have imitated him, some pale, some in living color.

Rome figured out that slapping these turkeys doesn't really affect the source (hint: he resides in Hell but is frequently visiting Earth...)--all it does is increase resentment.

But it's a tight call. For one, I am very pleased that it's the Pope's problem, not mine (we'd run out of ammo if I were in charge...)

Billiam said...

I hear you. Good response. As an aside, it's a good thing Benedict is not the 17th, or we'd have a problem with Olivia Newton-John..
Sorry, it was there.. ;-(