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.