A group of approximately 40 Catholic leaders met in the Vatican with various ecclesiastical figures around the globe to discuss the current global immigration crisis. These 40 men, currently unnamed, are individuals “directly involved in the protection of migrants and refugees’ rights and in the fight against human trafficking.” Through this small group of leaders, the Catholic Church intends to draft a document that will be presented before the U.N.’s global compact on immigration, which will provide the foundation for the first internationally negotiated agreement between all participating governments and their role(s) in facing international immigration. This intergovernmental conference, painting the beginning strokes of the globalist utopia assumed by neoliberals, will be held in late 2018 and intends all members of the United Nations to adopt the compact.
The Archdiocese of Detroit is considered by some to be the forerunner in incorporating Catholic social teaching into the sphere of immigration policy. According to the archdiocese’s website, the prime concern among Catholics regarding immigration in the U.S is the dignity of the person. Because of this, the “comprehensive immigration reform” proposed by several Catholic leaders must be understood as not necessarily supporting the reception of foreign refugees, but rather concentrating on how to best face this issue while maintaining the dignity of human life. Vatican official Msgr. Anthony Figueiredo expressed positive feedback when visiting the Archdiocese of Detroit, stating that it would be “encouraging to report back [to the Vatican] that this is what’s happening in Detroit.” Immigration reform is one of Pope Francis’s biggest issues; however, does the Holy Father personally identify with Catholic social teaching on this matter?
In a meeting with a Vatican audience, the Roman pontiff made a masked comment regarding President Donald J. Trump’s Executive Order 13767 (Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvements), essentially saying that countries should build bridges rather than walls. Official Catholic teaching, recorded in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, has a slightly different twist on the issue of immigration:
“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,” (CCC 2241).
The immigration spoken of by the Catholic Church is purely legal in nature and presupposes the right of countries to defend their borders. Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI said in 2010 that “states must treat immigrants with dignity but have the right to regulate immigration and defend their borders.” Immigration in the Catholic Catechism is spoken of within the context of individuals being forced to migrate from one country to another due to violence or economic turmoil. Therefore, there are two natural rights that countries and immigrants have. Countries have the right to defend their borders and dutifully discern whether mass immigration is healthy for its society, whereas immigrants have the duty, according to the Catholic Church, 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,” as quoted above.
Pope Francis is inarguably more progressive on this issue when contrasted with Catholic social teaching. Although his political and social convictions are clearly deeper than many conservative and liberal commentators may initially assume, they give off deep progressive impressions, specifically in the presupposition of a globalist utopia. Argentina, a country that recognises Catholicism as its official religion, has historically, like the U.S., allowed immigration to define its culture and even adopted a motto in the 19th century: “to govern is to populate.”
Like the United States, the Catholic country of Argentina has undergone a paradigm shift in its approach to immigration policies. President Mauricio Macri issued a decree in the beginning of 2017 that kerbed immigration, even echoing Trump in expressing a concern that the infiltration by Latin America is causing heightened crime rates. When a profoundly Catholic country such as Argentina is issuing immigration policies stunningly similar to the Trump administration’s, it is difficult to imagine that Pope Francis would criticise one action and not the other. It may be safe to assume that a country such as Argentina adequately represents Catholic social teaching, considering that 92% of the Argentinian population identifies as at least nominally Catholic.
As these Vatican leaders meet to discuss the global immigration crisis, it is crucial to understand that while Pope Francis infallibly represents the Catholic Church in the realm of faith and morals, he is completely fallible, and perhaps even foolish, when dabbling in the realm of politics. Although Francis states that one can’t be Catholic and anti-refugee and that open borders are a natural Christian duty, right-wing populists exist within the Catholic Church in the U.S. and, unsurprisingly, disagree.
The Vatican will be bringing a strong voice of influence to the U.N.’s meeting intended to achieve an intergovernmental agreement to the issue of mass immigration. The document that is to be drafted could be oriented towards one of two ideological positions: 1) Pope Francis’s globalist conviction that supports the mass immigration into the U.S. at all costs, or 2) the traditionalist Catholic position that asserts that it is crucial to discern the condition of a nation before pursuing the relationship society should have towards immigrants. Either position taken by Vatican officials on this issue will act as a foundation for the religious right’s approach to mass immigration.