09 July 2010

Immigration, Europe, America, and the Church

Immigration is a touchy subject in Catholic circles. The intensity varies depending upon which continent one stands, and it varies with the religious and cultural identity of both immigrant and native.

This is not a new topic, and I have intentionally avoided it on this site for reasons all my own. But John Zmirak's recent piece for Inside Catholic got me thinking, as his work usually does. In the past few months, notably upon the naming of Archbishop Jose Gomez as successor to the can't-be-retired-soon-enough Cardinal Mahoney, Zmirak has taken up the alarm to warn against the dangers of the open border into the U.S.

On the other side of the Atlantic, one topic I have covered many times is the demographic disaster hovering over Europe, or should I say, what once was Christendom. This disaster is the bastard child of the convenience-marriage between the immorality, heresy, sterility, sloth, despair, atheism, homosexuality and general ennui of once-Christian Europe, with the vigorous immigrant wave and subsequent fecundity of Muslims. It is the conquest of early middle ages with little sign of a reconquista, carried out not (yet) by the sword, but by the regulations of bureaucrats and the ink stamps of the functionaries of the secular West.

I have written in this space often that I believe America is roughly ten to twenty years behind Europe on the road to destruction. We are following them on the road whose markers we read in UK Telegraph, smugly glad we live in this great land of liberty where such things "could never happen". When they do happen, we shrug them off because, after all, there are greater outrages going on in Europe, which "could never happen" here. And so we give up our faith, we embrace materialism, we contracept and sterilize, we "tolerate" away Western Civilization.

However this may be, there is still a key difference between Europe and America other than mere time delay. This difference is so important that it strikes me as obvious but it cannot be said in polite society-- even in that politest of societies, the Church.

It is this: the immigration tsunami faced by America is Catholic, and that faced by Europe is Muslim. The American problem also contains an opportunity and possible solution. The European problem does not. The American immigration wave can benefit us, if properly handled. The European immigration wave can only be resisted, but probably won't be.

John Zmirak does note this difference in his articles, and seemingly would be more satisfied if the U.S. Catholic Bishops would state as a cause of their support for immigration here that the immigrants are mostly Catholic. What he targets is the politically correct recourse to general principles that by definition apply to immigrants of any faith and culture.

Fair enough, and Zmirak is plenty smart enough to know that the key is in the balancing of the right of the emigrant to better the lot of his family and ensure its survival, with the right of sovereign nations to regulate and control their own territories. We both believe that the current government (I include both political parties) in this country has no real interest in securing borders or engaging in a fair and orderly system of immigration. I support the Bishops' call to welcome immigrants because that is a call supported by the faith. I support the government's right to limit and regulate that immigration consistent with human rights and the interests of the state. But just because the government won't take up its own duty, I don't fault the Bishops for standing for the immigrant, particularly in a system where his rights are so limited as to be practically non-existent.

Short of the conversion of Russia, and the triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, it is difficult to squint hard enough to see a future Poitiers or Covadonga or Lepanto in Europe. And who knows-- if trends continue it will be hard to see, absent another Guadalupe, the re-Christianization of America. But at least here it is still possible, and there may still be time.

The same springtime of faith following the Second Vatican Council that saw the emptying of Catholic Cathedrals, Catholic seminaries and Catholic households in Europe brought about the same fruits here, though again with some time delay. And the Mexicans, Central Americans and to a lesser extent, South Americans who are coming here are, though still culturally Catholic, less and less religious. Just like us, they bought the bill of goods.

They have been particularly easy prey in their home countries to Pentecostals and evangelicals of the various stripes. Why? Because any energetic person with a Bible and the moxie to call himself a pastor can foist his own unique brand of protestantism on the inhabitants of the remotest village. The 30,001st protestant denomination is a bush-flight away. But the true faith needs priests-- priests who, you might have noticed, are in short supply. And as luck would have it, the priests who tend to make the bush-flights bring with them quite often a faith devoid of the Faith Itself.

Despite all of this, these immigrants share a common heritage with us. They are the grandchildren of Christendom, as are we. If we are to make a stand against the enemies of the faith, we must make common cause. We can stand together more powerfully than we can apart. I am not talking about the melting pot. I am not talking about the insipid patchwork quilt of diversity. I am talking about the only true culture that unifies, the only thing bigger than ourselves that can accommodate us all. I am talking about the faith. The True Faith.

So, Bishops, Priests, Nuns and Laymen, welcome immigrants to this country. Support them. But for God's sake-- for all our sakes-- give them the faith. Give them the truth. Give them Christ. Don't be content to sell them out to the secular welfare state for creature comforts on the road to perdition. Give them the Catholic Faith.

And while you're at it, give it to us.

Because the Catholic Church is our true home, and there must the welcome be.


Fr. Andrew said...


I think that is the key difference when Archbishop Gomez supports immigration is that he talks the talk and walks the walk about the work of Evangelization. He will certainly labor to give them the faith.

Peggy said...

There is a process for legal immigration. If we need to up the quotas from Latin America, that's what we should be talking about.

I do not support amnesty. I don't care that they're Catholic or brown-skinned. I saw what happened in NoVa when we lived there. For many there's no commitment to becoming American.

I also wonder when the business community will recognize that the minute these folks are legal, businesses will not want to hire them at legal wages with benefits and all that. Thus, they and their relatives will become wards of the state. Amnesty will be a disaster fiscally and culturally. I don't mean ethnicity by culture, but dependence upon the state and lack of individual liberty. More wealth redistribution--what's going to be left of wealth in the next few years, any way.

The US bishops need to slam Latin American nations for their economic and political injustice. The Mexican govt wants to push off its race problem (brown natives v white European descendants) on the US. We have enough of our own, thank you.

Dad29 said...

There's another question here, far more pragmatic, and that is Social Security.

In FACT, if we do not allow more immigration of tax-paying individuals, SocSec will go BK.

It's bad enough as it is--but it could be far, far worse.

I think GWB (and maybe Bammy) get this, and are not talking about it.

Peggy said...

I am sorry. I believe I was rather irritable when I posted earlier today. I am rather disheartened by the way things are going in the US and the agenda of Obama and Co. I don't think that the Dem and GOP agenda (they share it) to normalize illegal aliens is beneficial to the US, but to the politicians themselves.

MAYBE the Latinos will invigorate the Church and lead us to a more socially conservative society. But, Latino illegitimacy and abortion rates have been increasing. This is becoming Americanized in the worst ways. But at the same time, I know of stories where Catholic priests have held mass marriage ceremonies to get these folks' relationships regularized in the Church. Indeed, that's good. But we've got work to do. This needs to convey to American Catholics--of all cultural backgrounds. It may have to get worse to get better.

Anyway, I apologize for my intemperance.

Anonymous said...

Hispanics, Catholic or otherwise, support - by a large majority - socialist policies and the party of abortion. The Church is inviting its own destruction by supporting mass immigration into the USA. I wouldn't feel this way if the institutional Church was doing its job and ensuring that Hispanics (and every ethnic group, for that matter) supported politicians that defended Life and the family.

Jane Chantal said...

While I laud the impulse behind your thoughts here, Timman -- after all, it is the impulse to survive rather than perish! -- I find myself a little bit frightened by what you are saying. This passage from Bolt's "A Man For All Seasons" comes to mind:

William Roper: So, now you give the Devil the benefit of law!

Sir Thomas More: Yes! What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?

William Roper: Yes, I’d cut down every law in England to do that!

Sir Thomas More: Oh? And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned ’round on you, where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country is planted thick with laws, from coast to coast, Man’s laws, not God’s! And if you cut them down, and you’re just the man to do it, do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I’d give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety’s sake!

Anonymous said...

It is necessary for us to think as Catholics about the ethics of immigration. But our religious identity does NOT absolve us of our duty also to think and act as citizens. We do not follow the heretic Tertullian, who disdained all duties of earthly citizenship, flaunting his baptism--but Augustine, who taught that as members (we hope!) of the City of God, we are all the BETTER citizens of the City of Man. Therefore, we MAY not, on pain of sin, act in violation of the virtue of patriotism when we think it suits the Church's institutional self-interest. Nor may we cheat on our taxes and give the money to Peter's Pence....

John Zmirak

thetimman said...

I appreciate everyone's thoughtful comments. Some specific replies:

Peggy and Jane Chantal, in no way do I wish to be understood as supporting or absolving those who intentionally disobey immigration laws. Yes, there is a process and it should be followed when said process can be followed. I will say that I think most Americans are under the illusion that the Immigration and Nationality Act in its current form is logical and fair. There are breathtaking backlogs for certain immigrant and nonimmigrant categories that few Americans would support if they knew of them. There are other visas fairly easily obtained that would never garner public support. And the rights of immigrants who are in removal proceedings are few.

If you have a "green card" (permanent residence) and are from Mexico, it will take you 18 years to lawfully bring your son or daughter here. It would take you at least 5 years to bring your spouse here lawfully. And this is for a person whom the government has already granted permission to stay and live here for life. Certainly the law should be followed, but the law should make some sense. I am not for cutting down the law to spite the devil. I am for lawfully enacting a more sensible law.

Dr. Zmirak, I am pleased you took the time to comment here. In no way would I argue in favor of working against the country's interests in favor of some perceived Catholic advantage. If it sounded like this, it is the fault of my presentation. In other words, though some pro-immigrant activists give lip service to the right of the state to regulate and control immigration, I assure you that I actually believe in this right. I just think that there is an advantage to the country to maintain an immigrant flow--according to a reasonable legal structure-- of people that will help perpetuate the cause of Western civilization in a country that is otherwise headed to self-destruction.

Anonymous said...

That Latinos will reinvigorate America and/or Amchurch is a chimera Devilry if you will.

The entire history of Latin America is one of dictators and endless juntas. We need zero immigration from Latin America, as well as zero Moslem immigration.

Using SS as an excuse is tomfoolery as well. Why would all those children the Latinos produce desire to pay for 'Anglos' retirement? Just another banal idea that will bring disaster to America.


Anonymous said...

Don, you're right. Those Latinos are another species, not human beings. It's heresy for anyone to believe that God created Latinos as well as all us white people. So glad to find a blog where people like us feel comfortable expressing ourselves! None of that political correctness baloney for us. Speak the truth, man!


Peggy said...


I appreciate that some existing functions and procedures of the immigration apparatus are horribly unjust and move terribly slowly--even when there not lawfully set delays.

We brought 2 boys from Russia. We went through he** with INS (name at the time). Had we not contacted our senators and congressoids repeatedly, we might have had to delay our trip to bring them home.

Re-jiggering existing procedures, time lines, quotas, etc., is a good idea and separate from determining what to do with the refugees from the economic and political injustices in Latin America who come here illegally.

thetimman said...


While I don't agree with Don's end point, I don't think he was close to insinuating that Latinos are less than human.

Not to mention that it seems odd that this blog still gets knocked by leftists even when it agrees with them.

And Adolf is the more common spelling, I think...