Pope Francis recently decided to donate a half-million dollars to aid the migrants in Mexico, which has set off a flutter of controversy in the Christian world. In terms of helping illegal immigrants gain access to the United States, this puts the desire to be a “good” Christian at war with the need to protect home, family, and hearth. According to the Vatican News, the $500,000, “from the Peter’s Pence collections, will be distributed among 27 projects promoted by 16 Mexican dioceses and religious congregations, which requested assistance in continuing to provide food, lodging, and basic necessities to the migrants.”
This humanitarian approach is acceptable, but concern has arisen over the wording of the press release, which implies to some that the Church is advocating for open borders and illegal crossings.
The Peter’s Pence website calling for donations to support the migrants said:
“In recent months, thousands of migrants have arrived in Mexico, having travelled more than 4,000 kilometres on foot and with makeshift vehicles from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala. Men and women, often with young children, flee poverty and violence, hoping for a better future in the United States. However, the US border remains closed to them.
“All these people were stranded, unable to enter the United States, without a home or livelihood. The Catholic Church hosts thousands of them in hotels within the dioceses or religious congregations, providing basic necessities, from housing to clothing.”
As many would agree, there are valid reasons our border is not an open free-for-all. This past year has seen an influx of immigrants so vast that border patrol agents are having difficulty keeping up with the surge. Detainees are being released into the public, becoming a burden on citizens already struggling to provide for themselves and their families. Human trafficking, child slavery, and drug smuggling have increased to dangerous proportions. Crimes committed on U.S. soil by illegal immigrants are growing exponentially.
The Pope has insinuated that open borders are the Christian way. In 2016, during Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, Francis said the call for a border wall was not Christian. “A person who thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be, and not building bridges, is not Christian,” Francis said at the time. “This is not the gospel.”
However, the Catholic Vote website points out that Christians should seek a humanitarian way to treat migrants while respecting the law of the land:
“…the Catholic Church has never advocated for illegal immigration or open borders. It respects the sovereign rule of law of the United States. It recognizes the need for effective border enforcement that protects Americans from criminal and terrorist elements but at the same time allows for orderly and legal immigration.”
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops released a pastoral letter in 2003 entitled Strangers No Longer: Together on the Journey of Hope, which provides an outline of how immigration reform should work. On the topic of enforcement, the letter states: “The U.S. Catholic Bishops accept the legitimate role of the U.S. government in intercepting unauthorized migrants who attempt to travel to the United States.”
Pope Francis is regarded widely as a controversial leader, with many of his flock questioning his liberal values and ideals. Providing aid for migrants in the form of food, housing, and medical care may be the morally correct thing to do, but open borders are foolish and dangerous. Obviously, not all migrants trying to gain access to the United States have criminal intentions. However, they should be seriously vetted to ensure they intend to become assets to our society and not lethal injections.
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