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Debate: Is the Church’s stance on immigration utterly impractical?

Or does it provide the answer to the growing discontent with mass migration in Europe?

By on Friday, 15 April 2011

Migrants sit and take some rest on the tiny island of Lampedusa, Italy. Italy warned that it was facing a humanitarian and refugee crisis

Migrants sit and take some rest on the tiny island of Lampedusa, Italy. Italy warned that it was facing a humanitarian and refugee crisis

Prime Minister David Cameron grabbed the front pages of British newspapers today with a hard-hitting speech on immigration. Mass immigration, he said, had caused “discomfort and disjointedness” in some neighbourhood and placed real pressures on communities.

Elsewhere in Europe criticism of mass immigration is growing. In Italy, the anti-immigration rhetoric is particularly intense following a sudden influx of migrants fleeing the turmoil in North Africa.

The Catholic Church has urged the Italian government to receive the migrants generously, sparking angry denunciations by politicians opposed to immigration. They claim that the Church is hopelessly naïve about immigration and challenge the bishops to put their words into action by opening Church properties to the new arrivals.

The Church’s defenders say it is offering a prophetic witness to the dignity of every human being, regardless of their social status.

So is the Church’s stance on immigration utterly impractical, or does it provide the answer to the growing discontent with mass migration in Europe?

  • Vendeen

    The Church must always care for immigrants and witness to the dignity of every human being. It’s stance on immigration is correct.

    We leave ourselves open to claims of double standards if we say that the Church’s stance on immigration and peacemaking is utterly impractical but then we don’t folow the same type of relativism when discussing contraception which is also considered impractical by the standards of modern society.

  • Saunders9

    The church always acts in an impractical way, however, it’s asking us to be generous and hospitable to migrants. Reality is most countries do take a certain amount of migrants and acts in a Christian way. As a country we could always do more, but we have to act within budgets and one simply can’t take all immigrants. But I wouldn’t expect the Church to say anything different and always challenges us whether that is in terms of being open to having a large family or accepting all immigrants. Who pays for it please don’t ask? I’m just wondering if the Church has any charitable organizations that could sponsor immigrants in need? I don’t think we can expect government and the tax payer to necessarily fund this since tax rates are 20 – 30% too high at the moment.

  • ms catholic state

    If the Church wants Europe to remain Christian…..then she must stop endorsing Islamic immigration. These are Christian lands (the only ones we have)…..and if our Church continues to back what looks like Islamisation…..she is putting at risk future generations of Christians and landing them in the same situation as Christians in Lebanon, Egypt etc.

    It is not only the welfare of the immigrants but also of the host populations that have to be taken into account. The Church should be calling for Islamic lands to take Islamic immigrants. The dignity and security of Christians matter too you know!

  • Vendeen

    The Church is not endorsing Islamic immigration. Western Governments are doing this, liberal humanist secularism is doing this. Don’t blame the Church for a political mess. The Church of Christ will survive just as it survived in the past as long as it does not become a tool of the nation state and it’s idolotrous flag worship.

    Not refusing entry to Muslims and not deporting immigrants is difficult, it’s hard, it’s impractical but so is telling rape victims that they must keep their unborn babies and so is refusing contraception to starving african mothers forced into prostitution.

  • ms catholic state

    The Church is passively endorsing Islamic immigration……and putting the future situation of Christians in Christian homelands in grave danger. Shouldn’t someone say something??!

    Starving African mothers need trade education and opportunities (and are getting them….Africa is booming economically)….not contraception or pity. I wonder if you are a Catholic at all. Seems like you welcome Islamisation as you would welcome abortion. Pffff….

  • ms catholic state

    Or maybe that should be…..the Church is actively endorsing Islamic immigration….ie the Islamisation of Europe. Maybe the Vatican is full of Catholics like Vendeen! Pffff…..

  • Vendeen

    It’s not about immigration, if people in the west stopped aborting and contracepting themselves out of existence then Islam would not be taking over the West. It’s western materialism which has done this, people would rather have a holiday and a big house rather than a large family. Islam is filling a spiritual and economic void.

    You are associating the laws and values of modern Nation state with the teachings of the Catholic Church. This is not Lepanto or the Gates of Vienna, the land you seek to defend stopped being christian a long time ago. Our biggest enemy is Atheism and Consumerism not Islam.

    If you are concerned about immigration ask your Government why it continually requires cheap labour and why it creates such global misery through it’s awful foreign policy which results in obscene wealth, obscene poverty and war which always leads to….immigration.

    Or instead, try a little faith? Who’s to say the Church will not have it’s future in China or the Philippines. Even better, show a little concern for 13 million ancient Arab Christians from Egypt to Syria especially those in Palestine.

  • ms catholic state

    I agree……there shouldn’t be legalised abortion or contraception…..but that’s secularism for you. Islam is filling a demographic void……not a spiritual one. And if this land is not Christian anymore……then it’s incumbent upon Chrisitans to make it so…..and that includes the Vatican. Otherwise they are creating another Lebanon or Egypt.

    Islam is an enemy of Christianity too…..just ask the Pakistani Christians why don’t you…..and take off your blinkers. And fine….the Church will blossom in the East no doubt…..but Christians here have to think about their families welfare…….that’s our duty.

  • Joel Pinheiro

    The bishops usually defend both open immigration and the welfare state. Well, sadly, both don’t go together.

    Rich European welfare states (which might not remain that rich for long anyway) offer, for free, a very high standard of living compared to those of poor African and Asian countries. Asians and Africans want in. They won’t pay much taxes; but they sure will consume resources. This only heightens the unsustainable character of the welfare State.

    In my opinion, let the immigrants in, let the State’s programs go bust, and then work out something more sensible. But I understand those who live in Europe think differently. Anyway, it’s a real dilemma, and it can’t be solved by good intentions alone.

    Do the bishops realize their proposed scheme will result in more poverty for Italy? If so, then it is very practical. If not, and if they are under the illusion that resources are abundant and consumption doesn’t need to be backed by production, then it is very impractical indeed.

    Furthermore, blindly following whatever a bishop or even the Holy Father says on any matter (and condemning those who disagree) hardly does justice to a Catholic’s own individual reason. Read the Popes’ encyclicals regarding social issues from Leo XIII to the present; there is a lot of disagreement even among one another, even though the basic principles are the same.

  • Vendeen

    You need to look at the statistics on the numbers of white middle class females becoming Muslims. Islam IS also filling a spiritual void among the lefty-liberals. Islam, Capitalism and Liberalism are all bedfellows. That much is obvious, Islam will prosper among such people, it’s already happening among young French former christians. It’s not immigration which is the problem.

    As to your attack on our Church. Well look at the above picture of Migrants on Lampedusa. Do you think Christ would be among them or standing at the port with a placard saying go home?

    The reality will be Christians returning to the status of resident aliens “A people set Apart”. It is not unrealistsic to see us enduring the persecution those early Christians communities lived through. If we want to see what that looks like then look at the Jews who have had to endure 2000 years of suffering at the hands of Christians. The Jews have done this without a State, an Army and without Land, with only faith in God. It’s the Jews who have shown us how to live as Jesus wants us to. But if you are expecting Western Governments to stop islamification then you are kidding yourself. Put not your trust in Princes of men in whom there is no hope/ Come out from among them and be ye separate.

  • ms catholic state

    By God’s Grace …..Catholics will work for and pray for …..a Catholic State again.

  • Anonymous

    “So is the Church’s stance on immigration utterly impractical”

    Yes, it is.

    Illegal immigration is just that – illegal. These people are criminals. If they wish to enter the country they should apply to do so legally – otherwise they should not do so at all.

  • Vendeen

    If you are really worried about the Faith being made extinct by immigration then you are making the heretical assumption that human history is driven by coercive power. Rather it is driven by God working in, with, and through the Catholic community that has been the ultimate force in human affairs.

    “A Catholic State again”? When was the last one. Are you talking about a clerical state? No thanks, the clergy can barely run a Parish nevermind a country. Let them get on with what they should be doing…saying Mass and caring for our spiritual needs. Or are you suggesting somekind of Theocracy? It’s theocracies which these people are trying to escape from…They don’t work regardless of the faith. Socially or economically.

    And it’s quite right that the Church running a society does not work for Catholics since we were never meant to acquire the power of a state in the first place. If the Catholic church in the past made alliances with political rulers, it was because it had lost confidence in this truth. Forget Constantine, forget The Altar and Throne. On one side we have The Pharaoh, Herod and Caesar. On the otherside we have The Pope serving Christ the King…We cannot serve both.

    The primary responsibility of Catholics is not to take over society and impose our convictions and values on people who don’t share our faith, but to “be the church.” By refusing to return evil for evil, by living in peace, sharing goods, and doing deeds of charity as opportunities arise, the Catholic church witnesses to the fact that an alternative to a society based on violence or the threat of violence has been made possible by the life, death, resurrection and teachings of Jesus. The church thus lives in the conviction that God calls Christians to imitate the way of Christ in his absolute obedience, even if it leads to their deaths, for they, too, will finally be vindicated in resurrection.

  • Anonymous

    The Church’s goal is not to create a Christian Europe. If we wish for toleration through the law and in the opinions of others in Europe, then we must also tolerate other religions also. Debate over immigration levels is healthy, out-right intolerance of the Muslim religion is not.

    Calling Europe ‘Christian-lands’ is reminiscent of the crusades or something! I would hope you would agree that this was not a good time in the Church’s history. We must move from a ‘us and them’ mentality.

    Regardless, the idea of ‘land’ as having meaning in Christianity quite against the ideas of Christianity. Christianity is about inner-change not ownership of territory. Simply look to what Jesus had to say to Simon the Apostle – who wanted to defeat the Roman occupation.

    Jesus had no problem in accepting those of other faiths, simply look at the parable of the good Samaritan, and his message off toleration and love for others regardless of religion is clear.

    On another point it should be noted that the Christian tradition of Europe is not as solid as is being presumed. Spain was predominately Muslim from 800AD until the early 15th century. Other eastern European countries such as Turkey, Bulgaria, Hungary and many of the Slavic countries were predominately Muslim from the 14th to 19th Centuries.

    The contribution of the Muslim world gave us the foundations of science and chemistry and architecture. The numbers we use today 0,1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9 were directly invented by the Arabs.

  • Auricularis

    The modern church’s stance is utterly impratical and symptomatic of the ecumenical euphoria, it has been inebriated for the last 40 years. Tolerance of illegal immigration is not a virtue at all and does harm to the real immigrants who are fleeing from persecution (usually Christians fleeing from Islamic lands). These bishops, in their usual post-Vatican II niavity, are endorsing the dhimmitude that will befall Europe, unless Catholics start to relaise the impending disaster they are walking to. They are quick to speak in defence of criminals but are utterly silent on the unborn that are slaughtered in the womb or the mass apostacy that is happening under their watch.

    The mass Islamic immigration is the punishment of God on Europe, for her gradual rejection of her Catholic roots from the Protestant reformation. Wake up Europe and turn back to God before it is too late!

  • ms catholic state

    I want for a Catholic State as I don’t trust the ‘toleration’ of the secularists or Islamists…..and I rather be ruled by Catholics and Catholic law than any other (as I am a Catholic). I think we know all we need to know about the ‘toleration’ of the aforementioned 2!

    These are Christian lands historically….and if we don’t wake up and take the wool off our eyes….they will soon be Islamic lands. I’m sure that will please you. But I want a Catholic State myself.

  • ms catholic state

    History is driven by many things…..but at its core it is a struggle of good against evil……or more pecisely for Christ and those against Christ. Catholics not the Church run a Catholic society….why shouldn’t we?! We have the one true Faith…..and we’d make a better job of ordering society than secularists or Islamists who have both shown themselves wanting in that department. And that’s putting it mildly.

    The Church doesn’t run a Catholic State….Catholics do….based on Catholic principles and social doctrine.

  • Vendeen

    Yes but you disagree with that very same Catholic social doctrine and the basic and fundamental social principle found in the good samaritan and loving thy neighbour as thy self. If your enemy is hungry feed him, if he’s hungry give him something to drink.

  • ms catholic state

    I don’t disagree with any Catholic teaching…….I happen to love myself and my loved ones…..as I love my enemy. Looking after (and ruling) ourselves is natural…..and good. I question your motives. They may not be all they seem.

  • acs

    To quote Basil Hume, ‘If we fail to love our country, what is there left to honour and revere? To love one’s country is a virtue. Without honourable patriotism, how can one learn to give proper honour and respect to other countries and their peoples?’

    It is naive to think that one can love one’s country by bending over backwards and allowing it to be literally overrun by a deluge of migrants. That is not Christian.

    The Christian thing to do is to help these people in the countries from which they come and help those countries to grow. That may involve firm action, such as is happening in Libya, but if those countries have freedom and democracy and economic growth stemming from that political stability, then the diaspora of migrants will be greatly reduced.

    Europe is staggering under the weight of migration and we have every right to protest. We also have every right to protect our national culture which, as Basil Hume described it, ‘has deep roots in a shared past’.

  • Vendeen

    Question my motives? Yes that seems to be the modus operandi around here. Lot’s of times on here I see people responding to a counter point they don’t like with…”Well if you disagree with me it’s because your not a proper Catholic”. It seems that if your not an ultra-conservative then you must be a bleeding heart liberal. Silly

  • acs

    In Britain, and England in particular, over a period of ten years, roughly equivalent to the period of New Labour in Government, about 3 million people came to this country (equivalent to the entire population of Norway).

    This policy was not part of the Labour manifesto. It was done against the will of the vast majority of the British people (75% opposition has been officially recorded). It was done to fulfill a left-wing (ultimately Marxist) theory of multiculturalism which was so far-fetched that even Tony Blair himself by the end sought to distance himself from it. It was proven by a committee of the House of Lords led by a Labour peer that the immigration influx had negligible benefits to the British economy. It has meant a massive house-building programme which seriously threatens what remains of the British countryside. It has also meant massive cultural fragmentation and implications of a massive proportion on British infrastructure and social services for years to come.

    On top of which, when the mostly decent British public (known to be the biggest donators to charities in the wordl) expressed any form of opposition they were denounced as racists and likened to extremists, who not surprisingly jumped aboard the bandwagon.

    Christianity is about truth and what has happened to Britain is the result of a scheming lie.

    And for those who think we are somehow performing a service for these people, Charles Moore in the Telegraph pointed out that in one taxi drive, he discovered that, although his Bangladeshi taxi driver had lived in Britain for 40 YEARS, he did not even know where Sussex was and also informed him that Britain was far too cold and he could not wait to get back to Bangladesh for holidays.

    In other words, what interest does this man (and I am sure he is a perfectly decent bloke) have in the ‘sceptr’d isle’? The answer is nothing whatsoever other than a certain kind of job and social benefits.

    That, of course, is the passive sort of economic migrant. Quite a dfifferent story with the other lot who are planning this very minute to blow us all up in the name of Islam.

    What, and somebody actually thinks that the Catholic Church should subscribe to this?

  • Vendeen

    Hey everyone, What if all the immigrants are Poles and Lithuanians? Is that ok, they are all Catholics, young families, hard working and white. And lets face it, we are not having kids so somebody has to look after us.
    Or are we just talking about Muslims?