Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Revisiting Lou Dobbs, the Pope, and Immigration

(This Post is Much longer than I Intended. If You Have No Interest In This Topic Keep Scrolling Past All My Verbage For Other Things)
I talked about this latest controversy in much detail at Lou Dobbs No Pope Fan . Today on the Corner Blog at National Review Mrs Lopez has this entry:
Mea Culpa [Kathryn Jean Lopez]
A Lou Dobbs update from the Catholic League:
On his CNN show last night, Lou Dobbs hosted a discussion about Pope Benedict XVI’s trip to the U.S. Unlike previous nights, his panelists showed nothing but respect for the pope; Robert Zimmerman and Ed Rollins were particularly fair.

But the biggest surprise came from Dobbs. Here is an excerpt from the discussion:

Rollins: “I thought the pope saying illegals should be treated in a humane way is not saying that they should stay here. I think he’s basically saying you shouldn’t mistreat them when they are here. Send them home, but don’t mistreat them.”

Dobbs: “You know, I could sign on with that….We’re going to have to take all this in. I like Pope Benedict XVI, is what [the conversation] just taught me here….By the way, I can close this out with one thing. He [the pope] changed the minds of a lot of priests around the country I believe.”

Catholic League president Bill Donohue was pleased with this outcome:“To his credit, last night Lou Dobbs pivoted away from his previous remarks about the pope and conducted himself in a most professional manner. What cannot be picked up from the transcript was the sincerity of his comments. In doing so, he put to rest any concerns we may have had. This case is closed.”
04/22 10:20 AM.

Now I am all happy that perhaps Lou Dobbs will be more fair to his Holiness. I shall be watching. By the way the full Catholic League statement is here and the transcript of last nights show is located here.

The Rollins you see interacting with Dobbs is of course Ed Rollins who handled the Reagan Campaign and recently the Huckabee campaign. He is also a Catholic.

Now I think Rollins statements is perhaps a tad misleading. I think if the Holy Father is challenging us on this issue and we really should not be sugar coating what is saying perhaps.

It is much like the true radical open borders people that proclaim the Catholic Church demands that the United States take in all illegal aliens and deport no one. That is of course nonsense. On the other side I very much doubt the Holy Father's and Vatican's position is 180 degrees the opposite and as Rollins put its is simply "Send them home, but don't mistreat them."

It is rare for the Vatican to get involved in specific pieces of legislation. Bishops are just not agents for the Pope. They have true authority and station because of their Apostolic office. The point man for the lobbying efforts of the various Catholic agencies looking at immigration reform are not discussing or getting approval for amendments to legislation for example.

The Holy Father, as Bishop of Rome, is trying to give Universal principles that come from the Gospels and Christian Tradition that must inform our principles. Pope Benedict wants our legalisation on this important issue as well as other related matters to reflect that. Pope Benedict and the Church is not saying that one cannot deport some illegals or be able to regulate the flow. However I so think the Church and Benedict are saying one cannot just have a one size fit all policies. One must consider many factors in how to deal with this problem. Including the stability of families, the children of families of mixed legal status, and in fact the illegals that came here as small kids and are now adults. It does not endorse an open borders approach but neither does it say that a deport them ALL big and small policy without exception.

Let us look at this USA trip. His most full statement(where he did not mention the term illegal but it is in the air) was his Papal News conference on board the plane coming to the USA. His response is telling. He starts our talking about long term solutions that I think all sides would agree to. He said in response to a question on the immigration issue:

I cannot speak in Spanish but mis saludos y mi bendición para todos los hispánicos [my greetings and my blessing for the Hispanic people.] I certainly will touch on this point. I have received various "ad limina" visits from the Central American bishops and also from South America, and I have seen the amplitude of this problem, above all the grave problem of the separation of families. And this is truly dangerous for the social, moral and human fabric of these countries. Nevertheless, one must differentiate between measures that must be adopted right away and long-term solutions:

The fundamental solution is that there would no longer exist the need to emigrate because there would be in one's own country sufficient work, a sufficient social fabric, such that no one has to emigrate. Therefore we should all work for this objective, for a social development that permits offering citizens work and a future in their land of origin. And also about this point, I would like to speak with the president, because above all the United States should help with the aim that these countries can develop in this way. This is in the interest of everyone, not just of these countries, but of the world, and also of the United States.

Besides this, short-term measures: It is very important to help the families above all. In the light of the conversations that I have had with the bishops, the principal problem is that there be protection for the families, that they not be destroyed. What can be done should be done. In the same way, naturally, all that is possible must be done to work against the instability of the situations and against all the violations, and to help so that they can have a truly dignified life where they find themselves in this moment.

I would like to also say that there are many problems, many sufferings, but there is also a lot of hospitality! I know that above all the American episcopal conference collaborates a lot with the Latin American episcopal conferences in the face of needed help. With all the sorrowful things, let's not forget also so much true humanity, so many positive actions that also exist

It should be noted that the Pope is likely not only talking about illegal immigration. For instance the issues of Family reunification also come up in the matter of Legal immigration and the complicated issue of what some call "Chain migration".

None of us really have no idea what the Holy Father said to Bush on this issue. These meeting went on for a little bit over a hour and covered a wide range of topics. Therefore it is unlikely that a huge amount of time was spent going into all the aspects of the complicated issue of immigration reform. From the Vatican and White House Joint statement we see:
The Holy Father and the President also considered the situation in Latin America with reference, among other matters, to immigrants, and the need for a coordinated policy regarding immigration, especially their humane treatment and the well being of their families.

That again touches on issue of legal and illegal immigration as well as true migrant workers that are involved in circular work migration.

However there does seem to be a consistent theme with the Holy Father. That is Family Family Family. While not explicit I very much doubt it is Pope's Benedict;s position is to send them all home if they are illegal. Especially of those families with mixed legal status. Neither is it I suspect Pope Benedict's position that the United States must keep all illegal people here , even if they have families, if they are dangerous felons and do not meet certain requirements.

There is tendency to on each side to see this all in black and white and go to extremes in solutions. Solutions that both on the left and right present their own moral problems. Pope Benedict is demanding that we think these things through and recognize that we are dealing with lives here. In other words think beyond soundbites. That goes for all of us.

What Has Pope Benedict said in the Past On Immigration?
First I think it is important as Americans to realize a important fact. Not everything is the Vatican says is directed to the United States as it sole audience!!! That perception happens more often than not. We are truly not the only people in the world and when the Vatican is talking on matters of migration it is talking to a world wide audience.

The Current Pope has not talked at length on the issue of illegal immigration very much. It is helpful though to look at three last statements he made on World Migration Day. They can be located here , here , and here. Those statements are interesting to look at because it shows the many facets that Church looks at migration. You can see concerns there that are often not thought about.

In his 2007 address he starts out with quoting the Great Pius the XII of blessed Memory:

On the occasion of the coming World Day of Migrants and Refugees, and looking at the Holy Family of Nazareth, icon of all families, I would like to invite you to reflect on the condition of the migrant family. The evangelist Matthew narrates that shortly after the birth of Jesus, Joseph was forced to leave for Egypt by night, taking the child and his mother with him, in order to flee the persecution of king Herod (cf. Mt 2:13-15). Making a comment on this page of the Gospel, my venerable Predecessor, the Servant of God Pope Pius XII, wrote in 1952

"The family of Nazareth in exile, Jesus, Mary and Joseph, emigrants and taking refuge in Egypt to escape the fury of an evil king, are the model, the example and the support of all emigrants and pilgrims of every age and every country, of all refugees of any condition who, compelled by persecution and need, are forced to abandon their homeland, their beloved relatives, their neighbors, their dear friends, and move to a foreign land” (Exsul familia, AAS 44, 1952, 649). In this misfortune experienced by the Family of Nazareth, obliged to take refuge in Egypt, we can catch a glimpse of the painful condition in which all migrants live, especially, refugees, exiles, evacuees, internally displaced persons, those who are persecuted. We can take a quick look at the difficulties that every migrant family lives through, the hardships and humiliations, the deprivation and fragility of millions and millions of migrants, refugees and internally displaced people. The Family of Nazareth reflects the image of God safeguarded in the heart of every human family, even if disfigured and weakened by emigration.

May I suggest that this is the prism that Holy Father and the indeed the Catholic Church looks at all issues of immigration and migration . Thus it demands us people in the pew do the same. Again Family is prime among it's consideration.

Pope Benedict is also following a tradition of Church Teaching. He does not just change things because he is in charge. Therefore the Statement of Pope John Paul the II are still very much important. John Paul the II noted this huge Vatican Document on the issue Erga migrantes caritas Christi(The love of Christ towards migrants)which gives a huge overview of migration and our responsibilities as Catholics as to that.

Again it is not all one sided. Like in the Catechism there is responsibilities as to all sides. The Immigrant and as to the Host Countries and its citizens.

In 2005 on this topic John Paul the II said:
In this Document, integration is not presented as an assimilation that leads migrants to suppress or to forget their own cultural identity. Rather, contact with others leads to discovering their "secret", to being open to them in order to welcome their valid aspects and thus contribute to knowing each one better.

This is a lengthy process that aims to shape societies and cultures, making them more and more a reflection of the multi-faceted gifts of God to human beings. In this process the migrant is intent on taking the necessary steps towards social inclusion, such as learning the national language and complying with the laws and requirements at work, so as to avoid the occurrence of exasperated differentiation.

I will not deal with the various aspects of integration. All I desire on this occasion is to go deeper with you into some implications of its intercultural dimension.

2. No one is unaware of the identity conflict that often comes about in the meeting of persons of different cultures. Positive elements do exist in this. By introducing themselves into a new environment, immigrants often become more aware of who they are, especially when they miss the persons and values that are important to them.

In our society, characterized by the global phenomenon of migration, individuals must seek the proper balance between respect for their own identity and recognition of that of others. Indeed, it is necessary to recognize the legitimate plurality of cultures present in a country, in harmony with the preservation of law and order, on which depend social peace and the freedom of citizens.
Indeed, it is essential to exclude on the one hand assimilationist models that tend to transform those who are different into their own copy, and on the other, models of marginalization of immigrants, with attitudes that can even arrive at the choice of apartheid. The way to take is the path of genuine integration (cf.
Ecclesia in Europa, no. 102) with an open outlook that refuses to consider solely the differences between immigrants and the local people (cf. Message for World Day for Peace 2001, no. 12).

In the above paragraphs John Paul the II is talking about the concerns that people on all sides of the immigration issue are debating and offering a pathway. Again often the Church's views are more broad than people publicize.

In 2004 Pope John Paul the II said:
Equally, the right to emigrate exists. This right, Bl. John XXIII recalls in the Encyclical Mater et Magistra, is based on the universal destination of the goods of this world (cf. nn. 30 and 33). It is obviously the task of Governments to regulate the migratory flows with full respect for the dignity of the persons and for their families' needs, mindful of the requirements of the host societies. In this regard, international Agreements already exist to protect would-be emigrants, as well as those who seek refuge or political asylum in another country. There is always room to improve these agreements. .......If the gradual integration of all immigrants is fostered with respect for their identity and, at the same time, safeguarding the cultural patrimony of the peoples who receive them, there is less of a risk that they will come together to form real "ghettos" in which they remain isolated from the social context and sometimes even end by harbouring a desire to take over the territory gradually.

In 2003 again on the responsibility of the immigrant he said:
Understandably, as I urge Catholics to excel in the spirit of solidarity towards newcomers among them, I also invite the immigrants to recognize the duty to honour the countries which receive them and to respect the laws, culture and traditions of the people who have welcomed them. Only in this way will social harmony prevail.

Well this is good you might say but what does this have to do with illegals. Does John Paul the II talk about that? Well yes he did.

In 1996 on world migration day he hit the topic of Undocumented Aliens with some force. It is again all worth reading but let me post this part:
Migration is assuming the features of a social emergency, above all because of the increase in illegal migrants which, despite the current restrictions, it seems impossible to halt. Illegal immigration has always existed: it has frequently been tolerated because it promotes a reserve of personnel to draw on as legal migrants gradually move up the social ladder and find stable employment.

2. Today the phenomenon of illegal migrants has assumed considerable proportions, both because the supply of foreign labour is becoming excessive in comparison to the needs of the economy, which already has difficulty in absorbing its domestic workers, and because of the spread of forced migration. The necessary prudence required to deal with so delicate a matter cannot become one of reticence or exclusivity, because thousands would suffer the consequences as victims of situations that seem destined to deteriorate instead of being resolved. His irregular legal status cannot allow the migrant to lose his dignity, since he is endowed with inalienable rights, which can neither be violated nor ignored.

Illegal immigration should be prevented, but it is also essential to combat vigorously the criminal activities which exploit illegal immigrants. The most appropriate choice, which will yield consistent and long-lasting results is that of international co-operation which aims to foster political stability and to eliminate underdevelopment. The present economic and social imbalance, which to a large extent encourages the migratory flow, should not be seen as something inevitable, but as a challenge to the human race's sense of responsibility.

3. The Church considers the problem of illegal migrants from the standpoint of Christ, who died to gather together the dispersed children of God (cf. Jn 11:52), to rehabilitate the marginalized and to bring close those who are distant, in order to integrate all within a communion that is not based on ethnic, cultural or social membership, but on the common desire to accept God's word and to seek justice. "God shows no partiality, but in every nation any one who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him" (Acts 10:34-35).

The Church acts in continuity with Christ's mission. In particular, she asks herself how to meet the needs, while respecting the law of those persons who are not allowed to remain in a national territory. She also asks what the right to emigrate is worth without the corresponding right to immigrate. She tackles the problem of how to involve in this work of solidarity those Christian communities frequently infected by a public opinion that is often hostile to immigrants.

The first way to help these people is to listen to them in order to become acquainted with their situation, and, whatever their legal status with regard to State law, to provide them with the necessary means of subsistence.

Thus it is important to help illegal migrants to complete the necessary administrative papers to obtain a residence permit. Social and charitable institutions can make contact with the authorities in order to seek appropriate, lawful solutions to various cases. This kind of effort should be made especially on behalf of those who, after a long stay, are so deeply rooted in the local society that returning to their country of origin would be tantamount to a form of reverse emigration, with serious consequences particularly for the children.

4. When no solution is foreseen, these same institutions should direct those they are helping, perhaps also providing them with material assistance, either to seek acceptance in other countries, or to return to their own country

In the search for a solution to the problem of migration in general and illegal migrants in particular, the attitude of the host society has an important role to play. In this perspective, it is very important that public opinion be properly informed about the true situation in the migrants' country of origin, about the tragedies involving them and the possible risks of returning. The poverty and misfortune with which immigrants are stricken are yet another reason for coming generously to their aid
It is necessary to guard against the rise of new forms of racism or xenophobic behaviour, which attempt to make these brothers and sisters of ours scapegoats for what may be difficult local situations.

Due to the considerable proportions reached by the illegal migrant phenomenon, legislation in all the countries involved should be brought into harmony, also for a more equitable distribution of the burdens of a balanced solution. It is necessary to avoid recourse to the use of administrative regulations, meant to restrict the criterion of family membership which result in unjustifiably forcing into an illegal situation people whose right to live with their family cannot be denied by any law.

Adequate protection should be guaranteed to those who, although they have fled from their countries for reasons unforeseen by international conventions, could indeed be seriously risking their life were they obliged to return to their homeland.

5. I urge the particular Churches to encourage reflection, to issue directives and to provide information to help pastoral and social workers to act with discernment in so delicate and complex a matter.
When an understanding of the problem is conditioned by prejudice and xenophobic attitudes, the Church must not fail to speak up for brotherhood and to accompany it with acts testifying to the primacy of charity.

The prominence assumed by the welfare aspects of their precarious situation should not mean that less attention is paid to the fact that there are often Catholic Christians among the illegal migrants who, in the name of the same faith, often seek pastors of souls and places where they can pray, listen to God's word and celebrate the Lord's mysteries. Dioceses have the duty to meet these needs.

In the Church no one is a stranger, and the Church is not foreign to anyone, anywhere. As a sacrament of unity and thus a sign and a binding force for the whole human race, the Church is the place where illegal immigrants are also recognized and accepted as brothers and sisters. It is the task of the various Dioceses actively to ensure that these people, who are obliged to live outside the safety net of civil society, may find a sense of brotherhood in the Christian community.

Solidarity means taking responsibility for those in trouble. For Christians, the migrant is not merely an individual to be respected in accordance with the norms established by law, but a person whose presence challenges them and whose needs become an obligation for their responsibility. "What have you done to your brother?" (cf. Gn 4:9). The answer should not be limited to what is imposed by law, but should be made in the manner of solidarity.

6. Man, particularly if he is weak, defenceless, driven to the margins of society, is a sacrament of Christ's presence (cf. Mt 25:40, 45). "But this crowd, who do not know the law, are accursed" (Jn 7:49), was how the Pharisees judged those whom Jesus had helped even beyond the limits established by their precepts. Indeed, he came to seek and to save the lost (cf. Lk 19:10), to bring back the excluded, the abandoned, those rejected by society.

"I was a stranger and you welcomed me" (Mt 25:35). It is the Church's task not only to present constantly the Lord's teaching of faith but also to indicate its appropriate application to the various situations which the changing times continue to create. Today the illegal migrant comes before us like that "stranger" in whom Jesus asks to be recognized. To welcome him and to show him solidarity is a duty of hospitality and fidelity to Christian identity itself.
With these wishes, I impart my Apostolic Blessing as a pledge of abundant heavenly rewards to all those who are involved in the field of migration

Regardless to what Ed Rollins might think , I am not sure at all that Pope Benedict is repudiating that.

The problem is that people on both sides of the debate become well very Fundamentalist or perhaps Cafeteria Catholics on the issue of migration. I often see this as to the part of the Catechism that is often cited.

A person that is often pretty hardline on the problems of immigration see the following word I highlighted in red. A person that is on the opposite side and truly belives in open Borders only sees the words highlighted in purple.

2241 The more 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. Public authorities should see to it that the natural right is respected that places a guest under the protection of those who receive him.
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.

Both sides fail often to the whole.

The Catholic Church position is not that if you get accross the border that you are "safe" and thus can never be deported. Nor is it that all illegal aliens regardless of circumstance, class of situation, or having important family considerations can morally be all deported.

The Church demands of us to see this situation in the overall view of Justice and the Gospel. It proposes no magic one size fits all solution that is right for every country. However it does give principles. Principles that are shared we find in our current American situation by many Protestant and Catholics alike.

In the end as to Pope Benedict and the American Bishops the issue of immigration , illegal and legal, will focus on what effects it will have on the domestic Church also called the family.

In the end, I think a just solution will be found. Polls of the American public have shown on a consitent basis that they support getting tough on border security and illegal aliens , measures that support assimilation while recognizing that dracoian solutions proposed by the various extremes (Open Borders take them all crowd and the Deport them all big and small crowd ) are not an option either that fit within a Christian or practical political framework.

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