Catholics Concerned About The Illegal Immigration Crisis

“We are called to show maximum respect for the dignity of each migrant; this entails accompanying and managing waves of migration as best we can,” said Pope Francis in 2023. “In whatever place we decide to build our future, in the country of our birth or elsewhere, the important thing is that there always be a community ready to welcome, protect, promote and integrate everyone, without distinctions and without excluding anyone.”

That’s half of the Catholic equation on this hot-button issue in North America and around the world. But there is also an authoritative doctrinal word of caution.

The Catholic Catechism teaches: “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. … 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. … 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.”

There is no way to eliminate this tension, noted David P. Deavel, who leads the theology department at the University of St. Thomas in Houston.

“There is no formula in Catholic social principles for how this is supposed to get done, in terms of politics or public life,” he said, reached by telephone.

In Catholic doctrine, there is “certainly an obligation to allow immigration and to help immigrants. But there is no obligation to take in everyone under every circumstance.”

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