Before, during, and after the 2016 American presidential campaign, the Catholic Church has looked with blurred vision at some of the issues facing our people and our government, and at some of the candidates and their proposals, too. I am a member of that church, but the comments made by members of the hierarchy, the partiality of their pronouncements, have disturbed me and many of my fellow citizens. The church has disturbed me both as a Christian and as an American citizen. The moral confusion of the church and its inept application of it stands as the cause of that disturbance.
The Catholic Church’s moral confusion has toxified the issue of illegal immigration. The church has incorrectly mixed the valid notion of helping the poor with the valid notions of immigration law and national security to produce the erroneous conclusion that U.S. taxpayers and the government they fund own a moral and legal obligation to allow people to migrate to these United States illegally and to stay here illegally at the taxpayer’s expense. They encourage American politicians and citizens and their own clergy to flout our immigration laws, to paper over the millions of violations of immigration law by simply changing the law, and to pick up the tab for people who are not American citizens.
In brief, the solution of the Catholic Church is to make what is illegal legal, so you won’t have any lawbreaking, and to water down citizenship to accommodate citizens from a country that did not help their own.
Does the Catholic Church practice what it preaches? Would it embrace such a principle in regard to the spiritual laws it claims to follow? For instance, to reduce sin and guilt, the Catholic Church could make lust and greed virtues instead of vices, or it could pronounce the practice of adultery, promiscuity, and homosexuality to no longer be sins, even venial. That would in turn reduce so much condemnation. It would not do much for the health of peoples’ spirits or of their relationships to God or of their marriages.
That’s the point. The superficial application of a salve will not penetrate to the core and will create problems elsewhere. You can’t really break the law to fix it. You can if the law is unjust, but that isn’t the case here. Immigration laws are not intrinsically wrong. Every nation has adopted immigration laws for the benefit of its citizens and even the benefit of those who may choose to become citizens or to just reside here for an acceptable purpose.
Immigration laws are not designed, however, to remedy the ills experienced by citizens of other nations. In an emergency or severe situation, political asylum can be extended. Even then, that does not always happen, and the country sought for asylum must keep the interests of its own citizens paramount.
Our government was instituted for the common welfare and defense of its citizens. It does not exist for the citizens of other countries. Those countries have instituted their own governments whose concern is the welfare and defense of their own citizens. They are the proper object of whatever ire or sentiment fuels the Catholic Church’s effort to burden the American taxpayer.
In the Catechism of the Catholic Church, No. 1921 states, “Authority is exercised legitimately if it is committed to the common good of society. To attain this, it must employ morally acceptable means.” No. 1924 also states, “The common good comprises ‘the sum total of social conditions which allow people, either as groups or as individuals, to reach their fulfillment more fully and more easily.’”
As part of its commitment to the common good of society, the United States, as every other country in the world, has adopted morally acceptable means, immigration laws, to protect its borders and the security of the American people, to maintain order in the flow of citizens and non-citizens and their goods across the borders with other countries, as well as to create a viable and valuable path to what should be a highly regarded citizenship in this our nation. Not anyone can become an American, and those who can should want it with a fervent, dedicated heart. If your allegiances remain elsewhere, then America is not for you. I suspect citizens of other countries feel the same.
Oddly, the Catholic Church, which should stand against the world system, promotes one in its catechism when it calls for the organization of society on the international level for the good of the human family. While I think the relations between states and cultures should be hashed out to permit commerce and cultural exchange, we do not need some profound organization of the world conducted from the top down by an international government. No, sir! Having one government is more than enough. We do not want or need to transmogrify a bunch of smaller governments into a worldwide beast. Very bad idea, if that was meant.
So does the United States government fulfill its constitutional purpose of common defense and common welfare with liberty and justice for all its citizens and at the same time fulfill the church’s catechetical requirements? Yes.
Would it be fulfilling those constitutional purposes if it acceded to the demands of the Catholic Church and sundry political miscreants by flouting our immigration laws? No, it would not. The government has no right to disobey the Constitution or duly legislated laws. It has no right to flood towns and neighborhoods with people from another country. It has no right to impose a heavier financial burden on taxpayers by forcing them to fund illegal activity and immigrants. None.
Is the United States government fulfilling the catechetical principles we named above when it enforces its immigration law? Yes, it is. The government exercises its authority legitimately when it enforces the immigration laws duly established to protect and benefit its citizens. The good of American taxpayers, already suffering from high unemployment, ever increasing medical costs, a rising cost to live, and a deteriorating infrastructure is achieved by protecting them from the illegal immigration of millions of people and the costly effects of their presence.
If the American government caved to clerical and miscreant pressure, it would sabotage the common good – the social conditions which allow its people to reach their fulfillment more fully and more easily. In fact, that is what has been happening. If anything, the church should be scolding the government for falling short of those catechetical principles.
Many in the church genuinely worry about and work to remedy the afflictions the poor and the oppressed. That must be acknowledged. However, some exist who are just looking for a wagon into which they can jump. They treat authentic problems and challenges as a public relations tour and pose as social justice warriors while living in comfort and security, all the while failing to address the origin of the problem.
Mexicans are fleeing Mexico because of… Mexico. They flee Mexico because of the rotten government and socio-economic and spiritual conditions that prevail there. The Catholic Church has been an integral part of Mexican society for 500 years, as has the Spanish system of classes and racial/ethnic distinctions and economy.
Why has the Catholic Church utterly failed in Mexico? Why has the Catholic hierarchy utterly failed to take aim at the government duly constituted and instituted for the common good of its citizens, namely, the Mexican government? Why does the Catholic Church fail to slam the oppression of the masses of destitute millions by Mexican high society and its instrument, the Mexican government, and the godless drug cartels that have littered the landscape with the bowels and blood of the innocents? Where has the Catholic Church been for five centuries as the Mexican overlords dominated and deprived the millions of its common citizens of liberty and opportunity and human dignity?,
I love the genuine Christian church, but how dare you sit on your thrones from afar in gilded churches and halls overflowing with money, behind the walls of a special city-state, and disparage my country’s laws and my president-elect! Tear down the walls that divide Christians before you disparage a proposal to build a wall to protect our nation’s borders!
Yes, Donald Trump has been married three times and said some sexually disgusting things. He’s brash, brazen, and egotistical. He picked on an old lady, and he used the laws to his advantage to accumulate more and more wealth.
Yet take the log, the huge log, out of your own eye! Who owns more wealth than the Catholic Church? Maybe a few, but you know the church is right up there. Whose bishops and priests across every continent conspired and executed a wicked scheme against children to rape them and exploit them and use them as if they were throw-away dolls, leaving in ruins their sense of well-being, their identity, their God-given sexuality, their ability to trust, to love, to be secure?
That is fodder for another post, but Catholic clerics need to stop bashing the U.S. and our citizens, especially when their own garments are so stained.
For now, we can see that a policy to enforce U.S. Immigration laws meets the American constitutional requirement of common welfare and defense and meets the catechetical requirement of the common good of American society achieved by moral means.