jump to navigation

An interesting perspective on immigration May 7, 2010

Posted by Tantumblogo in Basics, General Catholic, Society.
comments closed

Dr. John Zmirak, a professor at St. Thomas More College, has an article at InsideCatholic on immigration, what the Church doctrine has to say about immigration, and the practical impact of some of the proposals that have eminated from various chanceries around the country.   I’d say his perspectives mirror my own pretty well:

One thing we Catholics have known since almost the beginning: Most statements in the Bible can be misread, misapplied, and torn out of context to serve as the pretext for hysterical balderdash. Martin Luther famously used his private reading of St. Paul’s Letter to the Romans to invent a whole new theology of salvation, personalized to soothe his aching scruples. Before that, poor Origen, the first great theologian of the Church, applied “If your hand causes you to sin, then cut it off” (Mk 9:43) to his problems with chastity . . . bless his heart! Today some of our bishops are telling us to do the very same thing to our country.
The subject is mass, unskilled immigration, and the phrase its enablers like to use (they titled one of their interminable, inevitable USCCB documents after it) is “Welcome the stranger” (paraphrasing Matthew 25:31-46). As someone who has actually studied the empirical effects that two million or so mostly uneducated immigrants are having on poor and working-class Americans, I am constantly confronted with this scrap torn from the New Testament, which earnest, otherwise orthodox Catholics wave around like snake-handlers justifying their latest romp in the piney woods with an ice cooler full of copperheads.
Marshal a series of rational arguments that demonstrate that our current immigration policy (designed by that great Catholic thinker Edward Kennedy) is a sin against prudence, and out will come the proof-text. Show that Catholic nations have for centuries, with the acquiescence or encouragement of the Church, restricted the influx of aliens in accord with the common good of their societies (St. Augustine, for instance, wanted the barbarians kept out of the Roman empire), and slurp — somebody whips it out again. Point out the fact that one of our once-richest states, California, has essentially been bankrupted by the tidal wave of undereducated non-English speakers — and whoop, there’s that hoary paraphrase. I’ve gotten so sick of this Bible abuse that I’ve lost every scrap of patience. Instead of engaging such proof-texts, I counter with my own. “‘You shall not suffer a witch to live’ (Ex 22:18). That’s in the Bible, too. Come on, let’s pass a law!”
But the goal of argument by Bible scrap isn’t rational discourse. People who wield autistic scripture snippets aren’t trying to further the conversation; they want to end it. Whatever rational processes were going on in your mind are supposed to screech to a halt the moment they chant the mantra, as you blush and admit that the “call of the Gospel” is meant to “bring us to a place beyond narrow calculations” of the common good, justice, patriotism, or prudence. Instead of using the brains God gave us, you’re meant to swoon, feel guilty for thinking in the first place, and secrete a miasma of vaguely generous sentiments — which reward you by making you feel really good about yourself. Aren’t you being charitable . . . not like those nasty, hateful fill-in-the-blanks: “rednecks,” “bigots,” “Arizona voters.”
Go read the rest.
I think it’s very important to have a generous attitude towards immigration.  I think the US should have very liberal immigration quotas, and I know the current immigration laws are a knotted up disaster that excludes the ridiculously qualified people and encourages law-breaking.  Yet another gift from Teddy Kennedy.  But the Church does not teach that nations must allow every single person into their country who would like to come.  The Church also doesn’t teach that having a reasonable difference of opinion on immigration policy does not make one ‘anti-immigrant,’ or a racist redneck teabagger. 
When Church leaders start using this kind of rhetoric, it makes a number of people start to wonder what could motivate this kind of vitriol.  We don’t hear this kind of language directed at pro-aborts – do certain bishops feel more strongly about immigration than abortion?  I’ll just say this – there is an easy, ready made explanation out there already for why some bishops would favor unrestricted immigration and demonize those who don’t, and it’s an explanation that does not reflect well on the Church.  I pray we can tone down the rhetoric, allow for legitimate opinions, and get back to trying to address the situation in a manner consonate with the doctrine of the Faith.