Pope Francis had his feet on firm ground, rather than the floor of his chartered Alitalia passenger plane, when he said the following, "The principle of the centrality of the human person . . . obliges us to always prioritize personal safety over national security."
The immediate problem is the word "always." No prudential matter can be stated using "always" except applied to the principles underlying the judgment to be made.
This use of always is far different from it’s always immoral to "directly to destroy an innocent human being" (Catechism of the Church (CCC) paragraph 2258)
This is not a new take on immigration. The U.S. bishops have been insisting the right of a nation to control its borders is secondary to an immigrant’s basic needs for over a decade.
The problem with this assertion is twofold — not only does it conflate prudential with non-negotiable issues, but it also ignores church teaching on the prerogatives and duties of government.
In broad terms, the church teaches that persons should be subject to governmental authority that "seeks the common good of the group concerned and if it employs morally licit means to attain it" (CCC, paragraph 1903).
In other words, it’s the prerogative of government to create and enforce laws consonant with the common good of society.
The more specific question is whether the present immigration laws are "morally licit" when immigrants are stopped, questioned, and housed before a decision is made by the U.S. government before admitting, or not admitting, them to the country.
Pope Francis says any and all "national security" problems should not be applied to the our government’s treatment of immigrants — let them all enter, no questions asked.
One can only assume the Holy Father thinks our concerns for terrorism, sex-trafficking, drug cartels, and criminal behavior should be set aside.
Defenders of this position point to paragraph 2241 in the Catechism where it reads that "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."
Fair enough, "to the extent they are able."
But the pope isn’t saying that — he is saying always.
The pope also appears to ignore another sentence contained in paragraph 2241:
"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. . . . " (Emphasis added)
In another words, governments are not required to give a carte blanche to immigrants. As the Catechism teaches:
". . . the common good requires peace, that is, the stability and security of a just order. It presupposes that authority should ensure by morally acceptable means the security of society and its members. It is the basis of the right to legitimate personal and collective defense." (CCC, paragraph 1909)
Peace is not what we are seeing at our Southern border or in the lives of those persons tragically impacted by the sex trafficking, drugs, crime, and gangs, not to mention potential terrorism from an all-too-porous border.
The recent hullabaloo from the U.S. Catholic bishops and Pope Francis over children separated from the parents at the border is completely disingenuous.
First, their arguments cannot be defended on the basis of the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
Second, neither the bishops nor Pope Francis made any complaints during the Obama administration while approximately 200,000 children were separated from their parent or over 2 million undocumented immigrants were returned to their country of origin.
I don’t doubt the bishops and the pope are sincere in their concern for immigrants, but I have no doubt that they’ve chosen to become dramatically vocal about immigration for political reasons.
The U. S. bishops want Trump out in 2020, as I argued recently, and Pope Francis will undoubtedly fire more than a few broadsides between now and the next presidential election.
Dr. Deal W. Hudson took over Crisis Magazine in 1995, leaving in 2010 to become president of Catholic Advocate. While at Crisis, Hudson led the Catholic voter outreach for President George W. Bush in 2000 and 2004, and later advised the campaigns of both John McCain and Donald Trump on Catholic outreach. In 2014, he began his weekly two-hour radio show, "Church and Culture," on the Ave Maria Radio Network, and launched www.thechristianreview.com in 2015. His books include "Happiness and the Limits of Satisfaction" and "Onward Christian Soldiers: The Growing Political Power of Catholics and Evangelicals in the United States." To read more of his reports — Click Here Now.
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