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Catholic Prelates and Muslim Immigration

For almost two millennia, Christianity has survived innumerable challenges from without, including heresies, schisms and philosophical “isms,” as well as more than a few challenges from within. But the most dangerous challenge of all may be one that was overcome seven centuries ago but is now regenerated—the challenge posed by Islam. Its agents no longer wield battle axes and scimitars, as their militant predecessors did. They travel instead in the peaceful garb of immigrants and refugees. Their stated purpose for migrating is to find opportunity or to escape persecution and in many cases that claim is no doubt genuine. Yet even in those cases, their Muslim belief obligates them to replace the host country’s ethical, legal, and religious culture with their own Sharia system.

There are two reasons doctrinaire Islam may succeed where militant Islam failed. The first is that the same European countries that for twenty-five generations conducted Crusades against Islam now have political leaders who welcome Muslim migrants in numbers that, given both their beliefs and their prolific birth rate, ensure the eventual overwhelming of Western culture and Judeo-Christian values.

The second, no less ironic reason is that today the institution most responsible for the defeat of militant Islam—the Catholic Church—is by its position on immigration supporting doctrinaire Islam.  This assertion may seem incredible to some readers, so let me present the evidence that supports it.

On the issue of immigration in general and Muslim immigration in particular, the Catholic hierarchy’s perspective has been unwavering. In Evangelii Gaudium, Pope Francis wrote that “authentic Islam and the proper reading of the Koran are opposed to every form of violence” and in 2016 he characterized talk of building walls as “not Christian.” In 2017 Archbishop Angelo Becciu of the Vatican said of President Trump’s executive order on travel from some Muslim countries, “Certainly there is worry because we are messengers of another culture, that of openness.” The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has affirmed Rome’s view, often with even greater force. (The emphasis in each of the following notations is mine.)

June 2014: Speaking for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) Bishop Mark Seitz testified before Congress on undocumented immigration. He stressed immigrants’ fundamental human rights and spoke at length about the response of governments and the Catholic Church to the “humanitarian crisis,” but said virtually nothing about the role of American citizens, taxpayers, or even Catholic parishioners, let alone their view of the issue.

January 20, 2017. In a letter to the Department of Homeland Security the USCCB urged that deportation be deferred for a number of Iraqis, including those who had committed crimes.

January 27, 2017. The USCCB stated, “We strongly disagree with the Executive Order’s halting refugee admissions. We believe that now more than ever, welcoming newcomers and refugees is an act of love and hope.”

January 30, 2017. In response to the refugee policy announced by President Trump, the USCCB said, “The bond between Christians and Muslims is founded on the unbreakable strength of charity and justice . . . Welcoming the stranger and those in flight is not one option among many in the Christian life. It is the very form of Christianity itself. . . .We will welcome them and receive them. They are Jesus and the Church will not turn away from Him.”

January 31, 2017 The USCCB said, “We join with other faith leaders to stand in solidarity again with those affected by this [President Trump’s immigration] order, especially our Muslim sisters and brothers. . . . And so, to our Muslim brothers and sisters and all people of faith, we stand with you and welcome you.”

February 7 2017. Bishop Gregory Parkes said that the President’s executive order “stand[s] in stark contrast to the foundations upon which our nation was built.” And he urged Catholics to “cry out on behalf of the immigrant and the refugee since all people bear the image and likeness of God.” [The clear implication of his message was that that everyone who wants to live in the U.S. should be able to.]

February 24 2017. Cardinal Joseph Tobin said that the President’s order was “the opposite of what it means to be an American,” and Cardinal Timothy Dolan put the temporary halting of immigration in the same category as approving late term abortion!

March 6 2017. The USCCB said, “Resettling only 50,000 refugees a year, down from 110,000, does not reflect the need, our compassion, and our capacity as a nation. We have the ability to continue to assist the most vulnerable among us without sacrificing our values as Americans or the safety and security of our nation.”

Not surprisingly, the Catechism of the Catholic Church echoes the view of Rome and the various conferences of bishops. After all, Rome and the bishops give prior approval to the Catechism’s contents, and the very purpose of the Catechism is to convey “the essential and fundamental content of Catholic faith and morals in a complete and summary way.”  Whatever is found in that publication about an issue is thus the official position of the Catholic Church. With that in mind, here is the Catechism’s pronouncement on the issue of immigration:

The more prosperous nations are obliged, to the extent they are able, to welcome the foreigner [emphasis in the Catechism] in search of the security and the means of livelihood which he cannot find in his country of origin. Public authorities should see to it that the natural right is respected that places a guest under the protection of those who receive him. (Catechism, 2241)

It should be underscored that in its fullness the passage does not refer to the charitable act of giving monetary or other aid to poor countries—that is a different matter altogether—but only to allowing foreigners entry into a country. And the phrase, “to the extent they are able” clearly means that the richest of countries, the United States, has the greatest moral obligation to do so.

The Catholic prelates’ unwavering support of lenient immigration policy is frequently in the news, in part it would seem because the mainstream media here and abroad share that view. One might expect that such frequent and favorable exposure, together with the prelates’ prestige as moral and spiritual leaders, would guarantee acceptance by a great majority of religious people. And yet that is not the case!

American Catholic lay people tend to oppose the prelates’ view on immigration, as do Jews, Mainline Protestants (MLPs), and Born-Again Protestants (BAPs). A 2009 Zogby poll found as follows. The percentages represent those who agree with the statements: (1) More immigrants are NOT needed to fill unskilled jobs: Catholics 69%, Jews 61%, MLPs 73, BAPs 75%. (2) Government should ENFORCE immigration laws rather than provide a pathway to citizenship: Catholics 64%, Jews 43%, MSPs 64%, BAPs 76%. (3) The immigration rate is too high: Catholics 69%, Jews 50%, MLPs 72%, BAPs 78%.

Furthermore, a Pew poll reveals that 44% of Americans believe that there is a “natural conflict between Islam and democracy.”

As author Douglas Murray notes in The Strange Death of Europe, the difference between Catholic and other Christian prelates’ view of immigration and the public’s view is even greater in Europe than in the U.S. To cite just one example, in May of 2016 a poll revealed that 60% of Germans believed that “Islam [the religion of the largest group of immigrants] does not belong in Germany.”

The reason that Germans and most other Europeans tend to harbor negative attitudes toward Muslim immigrants, Murray explains, is not hardheartedness or bigotry but instead a refusal to accept immigrants bringing to their countries a belief system that not only rejects theirs but also is intent on undermining it, an intention made evident by the events in Europe in recent decades.

Rome, the USCCB, and other conferences of bishops tend to dismiss the view of such laypeople as biblically and theologically uninformed. They claim that both the Gospels and Christian tradition require us to see Christ in our neighbors and to welcome them into our midst in Christian love. Although that claim is basically correct, their application of it to the issue of Muslim immigration is at best highly questionable.

Msgr. Charles Pope has remarked on the complexity of the issue of immigration and the importance of intellectual balance in dealing with it. As a model of such balance, he offers St. Thomas Aquinas’ reasoning on the matter.

Though Thomas affirms the gospel requirement of loving neighbor as self and treating those in need with loving kindness, Pope explains, he adds an important qualification, one that I believe the prelates have clearly ignored:

With regard to [foreigners wishing citizenship], a certain order was observed [by the Jews]. For [foreigners] were not at once admitted to citizenship: just as it was law with some nations that no one was deemed a citizen except after two or three generations . . . The reason for this was that if foreigners were allowed to meddle with the affairs of a nation as soon as they settled down in its midst, many dangers might occur, since the foreigners not yet having the common good firmly at heart might attempt something hurtful to the people. [Thomas goes on to say that the Jews admitted some people to citizenship “after the third generation,” but denied citizenship forever to “hostile” people; and “held as foes in perpetuity” those who were exceedingly hostile.] (Summa Theologica I-II, Q. 105, Art. 3).

St. Thomas’ reasoning is especially relevant to the present issue of Muslim immigration. After all, during his lifetime (1225-1274) three of the nine Crusades were fought in response to the Muslim conquest of Europe and the Holy Land. If Thomas were alive today, he would undoubtedly perceive that, though the means of today’s Muslim effort are different—immigration and population growth rather than the sword—the end of displacing Christianity is the same. (See also St. Thomas’ views of Mohammed and Islam.)

St. Thomas is not the only distinguished Catholic intellectual whose view of Muslim immigration is at odds with the present Magisterium’s thinking. Another is Bishop Fulton J. Sheen. In The World’s First Love: Mary, the Mother of God, (1952) Sheen wrote this:

At the present time, the hatred of the Moslem countries against the West is becoming a hatred against Christianity itself. Although the statesmen have not yet taken it into account, there is still grave danger that the temporal power of Islam may return and, with it, the menace that it may shake off a West which has ceased to be Christian, and affirm itself as a great anti-Christian world power.

Sheen’s comment was clearly prophetic because fully 65 years after he wrote it, there is ample evidence that “the goal of [Muslim] migration . . . is not peaceful assimilation to the political system and mores of the host country. Instead, the goal is jihad by non-violent means—known as civilization jihad or Islamization”. . . Indeed, “Mohammad himself proclaimed that migration is jihad.” (Ann Corcoran, Refugee Resettlement and the Hijra [Migration] to America (2015)

In its research on the beliefs of Muslims around the world, the Pew Center found that “most Muslims believe Sharia is the revealed word of God rather than a body of law developed by men based on the word of God.” Further, though the percentage of Muslims who believe Sharia should be made the law of the land varies from country to country, it is almost always substantial and often a majority. Moreover, “Muslims who pray several times a day are more likely than those who pray less frequently to favor Islamic law as the official law of the land.”

What about Sharia should cause concern in Western societies? As Nonie Darwish explains, “Sharia law is different from the law in the West, because it deals with all aspects of day-to-day life, including politics, economics, banking, business law, contract law, marriage, divorce, child rearing and custody, sexuality, sin, crime, and social issues.” And, as she demonstrates, its penalties for violations are exceedingly harsh. (Darwish, Cruel and Unusual Punishment: The Terrifying Global Implications of Islamic Law, 2008.)

The situation may be summarized as follows:

Muslim immigration and aversion to assimilation have caused serious problems in Europe, chief of which is the support and advancement of Sharia, an all-encompassing legal system that opposes not only Western concepts of law and morality but also the spiritual foundation of Western civilization. And the same problems are appearing in the United States.

For many years large numbers of European citizens have expressed concern over these problems and Americans have begun to express similar concern. Yet political leaders on both continents have not only ignored the message but also accused the messengers of being Islamophobic and lacking Christian charity and basic human decency. The leaders have continued this blame-the-messenger response even as the problems have worsened. They also continue to argue that most Muslims disapprove of the violence engaged in by Islamic terrorism, which may be true but entirely misses the point that the Muslim faith requires even those individuals to support what Ann Corcoran calls “civilization jihad” and I call “doctrinaire Islam.”

Catholic Prelates in both Europe and the United States have tended to follow the lead of the politicians by ignoring the problems of Muslim immigration and questioning the integrity of the messengers. Even worse, they have admonished their followers to regard Muslim immigrants as they would Christ. (See the January 30, 2017 USCCB passage above, which ends with “Welcoming the stranger and those in flight is . . . the very form of Christianity itself. . . .We will welcome them and receive them. They are Jesus and the Church will not turn away from Him.” Emphasis added.) For the Bishops to thus shame Catholics who, though they may lack theological training, reason essentially the same way St. Thomas and Bishop Sheen did on the issue is, in a word, shameful. (The possibility that the bishops are themselves unfamiliar with the thoughts of those great thinkers hardly constitutes an excuse.)

In conclusion, the Prelates’ unqualified support of Muslim immigration constitutes a serious failure to provide intellectual and moral guidance and example to their followers. More importantly, it does a grave disservice to the tens of thousands of Christians of all denominations who have been persecuted by Muslim extremists and the millions more who will suffer if Western culture is replaced by Sharia.

Copyright © 2017 by Vincent Ryan Ruggiero. All rights reserved