Catholic Herald offers a report on Catholic bishops speaking out against deportations. The article states that up to 200 new illegal immigrants per day are being ministered to by the Church, but the bishops are not concerned with this massive flow. Rather, they are concerned about deportations. I looked for some middle ground here, with the bishops agreeing to some deportations, but could not find any.
Let’s have a look at the reasoning.
“These operations spark panic among our parishes,” Bishop Elizondo said last week. “No person, migrant or otherwise, should have to fear leaving their home to attend church or school. No person should have to fear being torn away from their family and returned to danger.”
The Church allows for countries to establish rules on immigration. Even Pope Francis has said that countries should not allow immigrants in “irrationally.” The reasoning we are given, however, is that no one “should have to fear leaving their home to attend church or school,” and that “no person should have to fear being torn away from their family.” There is no middle ground here. If no one should be deported then the country has no right to limit immigration. This defies the catechism which clearly allows limits on immigration. Limits on immigration automatically mean there will be some deportations. The bishops are offering no middle ground here.
Another problem is that the countries that immigrants are fleeing from are ostensibly Catholic countries. If the average person cannot live in freedom from danger in a Catholic country, maybe the country isn’t Catholic anymore. Maybe it is wrong for us to harbor Catholics who are fleeing a country that is becoming less and less Catholic. This may sound harsh but the Cross is at the center of the Gospel. If we are not willing to endure hardships as Catholics for the greater good, then we do not understand the Gospel. Do the bishops of those “Catholic” countries want faithful Catholics to flee to other countries? Or would they rather that they remain and keep the country Catholic?
It is true that some people are fleeing violence. It is also true that we should not necessarily send people back into a situation where they are certain to be killed. However, what we are seeing is hundreds of people per day “fleeing violence.” At least, this is what we are told. If it is at the level of hundreds per day, it seems to me that they have the power to rise up and do something about the violence in their countries rather than flee. Why can’t the wealthier Church in the United States send resources to these “Catholic” countries to help them combat the violence so that they can remain there?
We can say the same for Syrian refugees. Why can’t we send resources to the regions in the Middle East where we can keep refugees safe so that they may have some hope of returning to Syria to maintain the Catholic/Christian presence in Syria? Why must the United States and other Western nations absorb all of Christendom? Are we not a missionary Church anymore? Are we a Church of cowards? Are we a Church of the West and not of the East? Are we a Church that has thrown up the white flag of surrender to the forces of darkness manifest in the Islamic state and in Central American and Mexican drug lords?
Of course, we must help the stranger, the outcast, the downtrodden…but are we truly helping them if our only “solution” is to provide a safe haven away from their ancestral homelands which were Catholic and are now being overrun? Should we not help them to remain in their ancestral homelands and to be a missionary Church once again?
The bishops would do well to, at minimum, find some middle ground here. Some deportations must be allowed. I would argue that many must be allowed. Surely, there are some who have no choice but to remain in the United States, else they be killed, but surely this is not the case with most of them, particularly when the number has reached up to 200 per day.