Benedict on immigration

Here are the Pope’s remarks to reporters on the papal plane on his way to the United States that became an issue in a recent entry :

Beltramo: I’ll ask the question in Italian, but we would love to have just a greeting in Spanish. With the enormous growth in the Hispanic presence, the Catholic church in the United States is becoming steadily more bilingual and bicultural. Yet there’s also a growing “anti-immigrant” movement in America. Do you intend to invite the United States to welcome immigrants well, many of whom are Catholic?

Benedict XVI: Unfortunately I’m not ready to speak in Spanish, but I offer a greeting and blessing for all the Spanish-speakers! Certainly I’ll talk about this subject. I recent had the ad limina visit from the bishops of Central America, also South America. I saw the scope of this problem, above all the grave problem of the separation of families. This is truly dangerous for the social, human and moral fabric of these countries.

It seems to me that we have to distinguish between measures to be taken immediately, and longer-term solutions. The fundamental solution [would be] that there is no longer any need to immigrate, that there are sufficient opportunities for work and a sufficient social fabric that no one any longer feels the need to immigrate. We all have to work for this objective, that social development is sufficient so that citizens are able to contribute to their own future.

On this point, I want to speak with the President, because above all the United States must help countries develop themselves. Doing so is in the interests of everyone, not just this country but the whole world, including the United States.

In the short term, it’s very important above all to help the families. This is the primary objective, to ensure that families are protected, not destroyed. Whatever can be done, must be done. Naturally, we have to do whatever’s possible against economic insecurity, against all the forms of violence, so that they can have a worthy life.

I’d like also to say that although there are many problems, so much suffering, there’s also much hospitality [in America.] I know that the bishops’ conference in America collaborates a great deal with the Latin American bishops’ conference. Together they work to help priests, laity and so on. With so many painful things, it’s also important not to forget much good and many positive actions.

I still don’t see what the excitement was about. The comments are well-meaning generalities touched on at an informal press conference. It appears that social coherence at all levels is the overriding concern, which ought to be OK from the standpoint of someone who favors restriction.

In the long run the Pope hopes that immigration will become much less of a factor, and in the meantime he makes no prejudgement as to what this party or that should do to mitigate existing problems. He knows it’s not a perfect world. He just points out some obvious concerns, and his most concrete suggestion is for the United States to promote development in other countries. There are limits of course to how much we can do that, but what’s wrong with the idea?

To my mind, the key points in the statement are that (1) the Pope refused to say anything definite in support of a supposed right to immigrate, and (2) he said that immigration in itself, and by extension the borderless universal-diversity-celebrating world that’s being shoved down our throats, is a Bad Thing. So why don’t restrictionists treat his comments as a huge victory? Why stack the deck against themselves?

6 thoughts on “Benedict on immigration”

  1. Don’t be obtuse
    Except that subsequent to promoting development as a long term solution he then talks about the short term. Those statements were widely hailed by the American Catholic clergy and almost universally, and I think correctly, understood to mean a support for sanctuary (“protecting families” means not deporting illegals who have spawned children here), a criticism of the very act of deportation (“all forms of violence”), and a disturbing justification of the means of achieving these policies (“Whatever can be done, must be done.”)

    He also went out of his way to praise the illegal immigration militants of the American Catholic clergy at every opportunity. There was not even a hint of criticism of their treasonous behavior.

    Why are you about the only person who didn’t understand that what the pope meant by “hospitality” was support for illegals to remain in this country? Church doctrine may or may not support illegal immigration but the pope left no doubt in anybody’s mind that he himself does.

    • Administrative note
      It’s hard to know what to do with someone like Forrest.

      So far as I can tell, he’s incapable of taking in any view other than his own. That means he can’t respond to objections in any helpful way. He’s also repetitive and insulting, and unfortunately writes quite a lot.

      On the other hand, his comments do represent common tendencies of thought, so they’re useful to that extent.

      After reflection, I’ve decided to ban him. He writes too much. That leaves people with the choice of ignoring him, in which case the comment threads take on a disconnected quality and stop being discussions, or responding endlessly without advancing the discussion. That doesn’t add to the interest of the site either.

      Quite possibly it would be more polite to discuss the matter with him and ask him not to comment so much for a while. However, I don’t feel that big an obligation of politeness to a penname, or to someone who doesn’t seem to value politeness. And I am convinced that discussion would be useless in this case. I could be wrong, of course. But that, after all, is life.

  2. Papa Joe’s remarks weren’t that bad….
    Much better than what I would expect from “Bishop” Schori. Also, I imagine he was shooting from the hip. A couple of things bothered me though:

    1. They’ll no longer “feel the need to immigrate” only when parity is achieved in economic/quality of life issues. But that probably can’t happen and I don’t think it’s our responsibility to make it happen. As you said to Forrest, that is, after all, life.
    2. I guess I don’t like or at least don’t understand his remarks on “painful things” and “so much suffering.” It sounds like standard left-liberal victimological talk to me.

    I agree with your basic point that some people overreacted. Full disclosure: I’m Catholic but not Roman. I have wildly vacillating feelings/thoughts on the Roman Church.

    • The Pope wasn’t speaking as policymaker
      I don’t see anything wrong with the goals he proposes. To the extent we can do something to aid development we should, and to the extent we can do something to aid family unity we should, all within the limits of other obligations and the general distribution of social responsibilities. I don’t view “family unity” as code for “lots of immigration,” because immigration almost by definition separates families, relatives, and communities.

      The United States does not run the world, and can’t fix everything. Saying something is a problem, even a serious problem, is not saying that everyone has to ignore all other considerations and deal with it as directly and single-mindedly as possible. The Pope knows all that. Otherwise he would presumably have sent papal investigators to the Los Angeles Archdiocese to look into suspicious circumstances relating to Cardinal Mahoney and the problem of predatory clerical pederasts there. His Eminence might well be toast.

      As to the “painful things” and “so much suffering,” I’d imagine it had to do with things the Latin American bishops told him in the ad limina vists. There are lots of painful things and suffering in Latin America. People try to escape them by emigrating. Then they often have lots more problems. How could the Pope avoid taking that into consideration?

  3. Interesting to read full quote
    The Pope was effectively asked by the reporter to give his blessing to the mass movement of Latin American immigrants to the US. He pointedly didn’t do so but spoke instead of such immigration as a problem to be overcome.

    The Pope is apparently not an open borders enthusiast, seeing it as damaging to families and to the social, human and moral fabric of countries.

    It’s not a complete statement of a traditionalist position, but it does show a continuing resistance to the modernist, politically correct attitude.

    Thanks for supplying the full quote.

  4. Here’s another VDARE piece
    Here’s another VDARE piece about the Church and immigration. Its basic concern is helpful, to distinguish Church teachings from statements made by particular hierarchs. Even so, the author continues the practice of presenting general statements by the Pope, often seemingly made to buy off open-borders types looking for red meat, as if they were ill-disguised digs at restrictionists.


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