28 thoughts on “Refugees and Catholic Social Teaching

    • Unfortunately I found it rather weak. 72 immigrants have committed or been indicted on terrorism related crimes. But there are additional costs to consider, depression of wages of American poor, decrease in social service provision and widening of economic gaps:

      http://www.princeton.edu/~macedo/Papers/Macedo%20Immigration%20in%20Smith%20Penn%2011.pdf

      In addition, there are costs to civic cohesiveness which can undermine the common good:

      https://www.clarionproject.org/analysis/canada-heading-towards-blasphemy-law

      What difference between life and death can a reasoned look at immigration and willingness to act without blind sentimentality mean? A great deal undoubtedly as can be seen from this look at the Angelic Doctor’s thought on immigration. A breath of fresh air and a strong argument to support the ban:

      http://www.ncregister.com/blog/kschiffer/what-the-bishops-the-catechism-and-st.-thomas-aquinas-say-about-immigration

      But at least the article doesn’t hide that a Catholic in good conscience could disagree with good Archbishop Gomes. Such is much more convincingly presented here:

      https://www.thecatholicthing.org/2017/02/08/conscience-and-disagreements-on-social-teachings/

      • Would you be able to share a link saying that 72 refugees have been convicted or indicted for terrorist related activities? I provided sources that contradict that claim, so I would like to see if I’m in error.

        Also, the possibility of a loss of “civic cohesiveness” is frankly not on the same moral level as the refugee facing the loss of their life.

        Further, the depression of wages or a widening economic gap for the poor can be solved internally with better domestic social and economic policies.

        It’s interesting how the NCR article has to appeal all the way back to St. Thomas in order to try and justify its position when multiple modern popes directly address the issue of migration in magisterial documents. Further, all this articles proves is that the state has the authority and duty to protect its borders and the common good (I’m not questioning that), but it fails to demonstrate how these refugees are real and immanent threats to US citizens. Again, I provided sources saying the opposite. Third, this article fails to mention that Syrian refugees are indefinitely banned.

        Finally, the Catholic Thing article addresses none of the points I presented.

        • Here’s the link:

          http://cis.org/vaughan/study-reveals-72-terrorists-came-countries-covered-trump-vetting-order

          Of course the potential loss of life for either a refugee or a citizen of a country is of the same moral order. And the solution of both is a prudential judgment, which of course one can disagree. Thus the openness to banning certain refugees.

          The magisterium has not rejected the right of states to ban refugees if the common good calls for it. In fact they recognize the right of immigration for any reason is not absolute. As it is not an absolute right, it can be limited. The NCR article points to a source for such thinking – one which has never been rejected.

          • Thank you for the link. The Senate report that this link is basing it’s conclusions on is the same report that the Cato Institute examined. The link I included in my article stated :

            “I exhaustively evaluated Senator Sessions’ list of convictions based on publicly available data and discovered some startling details…First, 241 of the convictions (42 percent) were not for terrorism offenses. Senator Sessions puffed his numbers by including “terrorism-related convictions,” a nebulous category that includes investigations that begin due to a terrorism tip but then end in non-terrorism convictions. My favorite examples of this are the convictions of Nasser Abuali, Hussein Abuali, and Rabi Ahmed. An informant told the FBI that the trio tried to purchase a rocket-propelled grenade launcher, but the FBI found no evidence supporting the accusation. The three individuals were instead convicted of receiving two truckloads of stolen cereal. That is a crime but it is not terrorism.

            Second, only 40 of the 580 convictions (6.9 percent) were for foreigners planning a terrorist attack on U.S. soil. Seeking to join a foreign terrorist group overseas, material support for a foreign terrorist, and seeking to commit an act of terror on foreign soil account for 180 of the 580 convictions (31 percent). Terrorism on foreign soil is a crime, should be a crime, and those convicted of these offenses should be punished severely but the government cannot claim that these convictions made America safe again because these folks were not targeting U.S. soil.

            Third, 92 of the 580 convictions (16 percent) were for U.S. born citizens. No change in immigration law, visa limitations, or more rigorous security checks would have stopped them.

            The executive order includes national security exemptions to be made on a case-by-case basis. The President reserves the option to ban the entry of nationals from additional countries in the future based on a national security risk report written by DHS. Furthermore, the Secretaries of State and Homeland Security can recommend visa bans for nationals from additional countries at any time.

            In addition to the visa restrictions above, Trump’s executive order further cuts the refugee program to 50,000 annually, indefinitely blocks all refugees from Syria, and suspends all refugee admissions for 120 days. This is a response to a phantom menace. From 1975 to the end of 2015, 20 refugees have been convicted of attempting or committing terrorism on U.S. soil, and only three Americans have been killed in attacks committed by refugees—all in the 1970s. Zero Americans have been killed by Syrian refugees in a terrorist attack on U.S. soil. The annual chance of an American dying in a terrorist attack committed by a refugee is one in 3.6 billion. The other 17 convictions have mainly been for aiding or attempting to join foreign terrorists. ” – https://www.cato.org/blog/little-national-security-benefit-trumps-executive-order-immigration

            You said, “Of course the potential loss of life for either a refugee or a citizen of a country is of the same moral order. And the solution of both is a prudential judgment, which of course one can disagree. ”

            That this is an area of “prudential judgment” does not mean there is license for Catholics to have any opinion that they want. Prudential judgement “is the application of moral principles to a particular case in order to do good and avoid evil. It is a recognition that we live in an imperfect world, in which achieving pure goodness is not always possible, but the Christian must constantly strive to move toward a more perfect world” (http://www.cacatholic.org/what-prudential-judgment).

            My article stated the moral principles involved and applied them to the facts of this particular case. Unless I am misrepresenting the moral principles or the particular circumstances of this issue my conclusion is valid, and it’s a conclusion affirmed by multiple bishops. From that same link concerning prudential judgment:

            “Prudential judgment is not a way to rationalize a political calculation, avoid rocking the boat or justifying one’s own interest. Nor is it a pretext to ignore Church teaching. If a Catholic finds herself in conflict with the Church’s teaching on an issue, she must give serious consideration to the teaching and work to understand the conflict. It is important that we put aside any personal motives, including partisan preference or individual gain that might cloud our judgment.”

            You also stated, “The magisterium has not rejected the right of states to ban refugees if the common good calls for it. ”

            Yes, we agree here. My point is that the common good does not call for it.

            The Church’s teaching regarding the poor and the disadvantaged (the hungry, thirsty, naked, sick, imprisoned, or the stranger) is to give them the benefit of the doubt (so to speak). We are to do whatever we can to help those in need *unless* we can be certain that doing so will harm the common good. What I see from many Christians who are supporting this executive order is the opposite. They’re position seems to be that we can serve those in need *only* if there’s absolutely no risk at all to the United States.

            Please know that I’m not directing criticism at your personally. Thank you for the discussion and I hope it continues.

            • “Second, only 40 of the 580 convictions (6.9 percent) were for foreigners planning a terrorist attack on U.S. soil. ”

              Hardly a reassuring statistic.

              But add to this the reality that not only terrorism is involved, but their resistance to assimilation in a democracy. Something Aquinas knew:

              http://www.centerforsecuritypolicy.org/2015/06/23/nationwide-poll-of-us-muslims-shows-thousands-support-shariah-jihad/

              And then there is the reality that those who are being brought into America from Syria are those most likely to support violence against Christians:

              http://www.express.co.uk/news/world/614249/ISIS-sends-ASSASSINS-UN-refugee-camps-could-come-Britain

            • “That this is an area of ‘prudential judgment’ does not mean there is license for Catholics to have any opinion that they want. Prudential judgement “is the application of moral principles to a particular case in order to do good and avoid evil. It is a recognition that we live in an imperfect world, in which achieving pure goodness is not always possible, but the Christian must constantly strive to move toward a more perfect world”

              Yes, which is what we are discussing, what will perfect the world. For example, most Syrian refugees are coming from UN administered camps who are Muslim and are likely excluding Christians – those who would fit more perfectly in the U.S. Particularly given the data in the comment below. Here on the exclusion of Christians:

              http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/religion/12057151/Christians-could-be-excluded-from-refugee-resettlement-plans-says-Cardinal.html

              In addition, the 50,000 that will be allowed will be more than prior to 2016. This past year and 2017 are dramatic exceptions. So concern about that is limited.

              Add that while there are many bishops who are opposed to the legitimate, prudential judgment of the ban, their opinion is no more valid then others. In fact, the Church teaches that it is the competent civil authorities who have the duty and competence to make such decisions.

              • The article from the Cato Institute concludes with:

                “From 1975 to the end of 2015, 20 refugees have been convicted of attempting or committing terrorism on U.S. soil, and only three Americans have been killed in attacks committed by refugees—all in the 1970s. Zero Americans have been killed by Syrian refugees in a terrorist attack on U.S. soil. The annual chance of an American dying in a terrorist attack committed by a refugee is one in 3.6 billion.”

                If those aren’t reassuring statistics, what are?

                Further, regarding the link about assimilation, I go back to my point at the end of my last comment:

                The Church’s teaching regarding the poor and the disadvantaged (the hungry, thirsty, naked, sick, imprisoned, or the stranger) is to give them the benefit of the doubt (so to speak). We are to do whatever we can to help those in need *unless* we can be certain that doing so will harm the common good. What I see from many Christians who are supporting this executive order is the opposite. They’re position seems to be that we can serve those in need *only* if there’s absolutely no risk at all to the United States.

                What kind of situation, what kind of criteria, what kind of vetting would be good enough for you to support refugees entering the US? And how would you reconcile this with the emphasis the Church places on the disadvantaged?

                You said, “Add that while there are many bishops who are opposed to the legitimate, prudential judgment of the ban, their opinion is no more valid then others. In fact, the Church teaches that it is the competent civil authorities who have the duty and competence to make such decisions.”

                In fact, the Church has authority to teach on faith and morals, and clearly this is a moral issue:

                “It belongs to the Church always and everywhere to announce moral principles, even about the social order, and to render judgment concerning any human affairs insofar as the fundamental rights of the human person or the salvation of souls requires it.” (747)

                “Although the bishops who are in communion with the head and members of the college, whether individually or joined together in conferences of bishops or in particular councils, do not possess infallibility in teaching, they are authentic teachers and instructors of the faith for the Christian faithful entrusted to their care; the Christian faithful are bound to adhere with religious submission of mind to the authentic magisterium of their bishops.” (753)

                http://www.vatican.va/archive/ENG1104/_P2H.HTM

                • “If those aren’t reassuring statistics, what are?”

                  No, in part because that is not the whole of the argument. The argument includes immigration in toto and the risks to the common good from unassimilated immigrants who hold beliefs inimical to the good as noted above.

                  “What I see from many Christians who are supporting this executive order is the opposite. They’re position seems to be that we can serve those in need *only* if there’s absolutely no risk at all to the United States.”

                  Unless we recognize that since 1965 the US has taken in approximately 38 million immigrants or about 13% of the population. Add to that the conservative number of 12 million illegal immigrants and its not unreasonable to see that almost 20% of the population is foreign born. Hardly an uncaring approach.

                  But add to that the fact that there has been no similar outcry when Carter banned refugees from Iran, Clinton from Haiti and Obama from Cuba, one has a concern that the “prudential” judgments of some, including some bishops, are more politically oriented. That or hypocrisy as this bishop who points out:

                  http://www.breitbart.com/national-security/2017/02/03/iraqi-archbishop-protesters-isis-came-kill-christians/

                  As for the moral application of principles, it is clear teaching of the Church that the State may limit immigration. Therefore there can be no intrinsic violation of morals that the Bishops can argue. The bishops can only provide their own particular prudential judgments. Here is a cleric who is teaching clearly:

                  https://www.catholicvote.org/phoenix-priest-speaks-hard-truths-on-catholic-voting-and-abortion/

                  • You said, “No, in part because that is not the whole of the argument. The argument includes immigration in toto…”

                    I think we are conflating multiple issues here. This isn’t a discussion on illegal immigration or even immigration in general. It is specifically about the executive travel ban, and not even the entire ban. As I stated in my article:

                    “While this order does several things, for the purpose of this discussion, I’m concerned with three things in particular: the suspension of entry into the US for 90 days of all persons from seven Muslim majority countries (countries first named by the Obama administration as harboring terrorists), the 120 day suspension of refugee processing for nationals from any country, and the indefinite suspension of all refugees coming from Syria.”

                    You said, “But add to that the fact that there has been no similar outcry when Carter banned refugees from Iran, Clinton from Haiti and Obama from Cuba, one has a concern that the “prudential” judgments of some, including some bishops, are more politically oriented.”

                    I did not research those past executive laws, that was beyond the scope of this article. However, I find your charge that the response from bishops to this executive order is partisan very unconvincing. Sure, one could maybe label Cardinal Cupich as a “liberal” (though I don’t find that applying partisan labels to ecclesial leaders to be very accurate or productive), but would you say the same thing about Archbishop Chaput, Archbishop Lori, Archbishop Vigneron, or Cardinal DiNardo?

                    It is the clear teaching of the Church that the state may *justly* limit immigration. My very argument is that, given the facts surrounding this particular executive order, this travel ban is unjust. And certainly the bishops can argue that this law violates the moral law and the dignity of persons.

                    I would encourage you to go through, if you haven’t already, and read the statements that these bishops made.

                    • Regrettably this article manages to ignore the most effective way of dealing with the problem. To wit; striking at the root cause of all these refugees. The feckless West makes only token gestures to opposing militant Islam for a variety of nonsense reasons. In addition to causing great harm to the innocent, this event is changing the character of what is left of western cultural mores in Europe. Nations have boundaries to protect not just their populations, but a way of life that has some commonality to it. This is why all countries that allow immigration try to have an orderly process so that assimilation may be eased. The evidence of failure to do this faces us every day. If the Church can not offer constructive comment, the best course of action is to leave the matter to those competent to deal with it.

            • In this article I cited Pope Saint John XXIII, Pope Saint John Paul II, Archbishop Chaput, Archbishop Lori, Archbishop Vigneron, and Cardinal DiNardo – do you think that they are sympathetic to leftist issues?

                • That’s a pretty harsh accusation to make. It’s a pretty serious claim to say that the majority of our bishops are politically motivated to the point of distorting Church teaching. I would hope that you could provide evidence for those claims that would include statements they have made that demonstrate a leftist agenda that contradicts Church teaching.

                  • Most of the time it is not a question of contradicting Church teaching. It has to do with emphasizing political solutions to the world’s problems instead of spiritual solutions. An exception to this would be the changes in the Church’s attitude towards the death penalty. With all of the Biblical and historic precedent for it, I don’t understand why many bishops are politically opposed to it and lobby for its removal in the states.

                    • Have you read much of Catholic Social Teaching? I’m not asking to be flippant, but it seems like there’s a fundamental misunderstanding of CST here. The Church is, and has been, concerned with social evils and the solutions, political or otherwise, to resolve them. Here are some quotes that help illustrate that.

                      The Code of Canon Law says: “It belongs to the Church always and everywhere to announce moral principles, even about the social order, and to render judgment concerning any human affairs insofar as the fundamental rights of the human person or the salvation of souls requires it.” (canon 747:2 – http://www.vatican.va/archive/ENG1104/_P2H.HTM).

                      The Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church says: “Because of the public relevance of the Gospel and faith, because of the corrupting effects of injustice, that is, of sin, the Church cannot remain indifferent to social matters” (71 – http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/pontifical_councils/justpeace/documents/rc_pc_justpeace_doc_20060526_compendio-dott-soc_en.html).

                      Finally, Daniel Schwindt, in his book “Catholic Social Teaching: A New Synthesis” makes this point:

                      “…we can say that the Church has concern for the worldly, not because she wishes to dictate the details of its technical operations, but because man needs a healthy material foundation if his spiritual life is to thrive to its utmost. The Church concerns itself with temporal affairs only insofar as they threaten spiritual affairs, which means that her concern will necessarily expand in times of turmoil and economic confusion. Particularly when the conditions of man’s earthly existence drop below a certain minimum, the Church cannot and will not remain silent. It was precisely this situation which gave birth to, and fuels, the further development of CST [Here he quotes Pope Pius XI’s encyclical “Quadragesimo Anno” paragraph 130]:

                      “…it is not rash by any means to say that the whole scheme of social and economic life is now such as to put in the way of vast numbers of mankind most serious obstacles which prevent them from caring for the one thing necessary; namely, their eternal salvation.” – http://catholicfront.com/2017/02/10/justification-cst/

                    • I can understand changes in the Church rules as to whether the Church does a mass for someone who commits suicide. The Church is giving the person the benefit of the doubt as to causes.
                      Use of the death penalty is not based on changing attitudes or technology. There is a divine mandate from before the Mosaic Law. Genesis 9:6 says: “Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man”. God said this to Noah roughly 1500 years before the Mosaic Law, and it has been applied until recently. Guilt has always needed to be ascertained as well as whether it is justified.
                      I think the Church should be cautious in adopting changed human thinking on any given subject. When clerics are too quick to do this, it lessens their moral credibility in general. This may actually make the rest of us more circumspect about what we accept from them. It gives us permission to make greater use of our personal consciences. This should have always been the case.

                  • The issue of the death penalty is not only a Pope Francis issue. Church attitudes have been changing for decades. When I was growing up, it was widely accepted that there was no problem with the death penalty. It has always been understood that it needs to be applied equitably. It was never considered immoral even though it has been abused all along. It has Biblical and Church history precedent for thousands of years.
                    The more recent changes in attitudes are puzzling to many of us who have always heard that there are basic Church teachings that can never change. For me, the death penalty appears to be one of them. I am uncomfortable with bishops lobbying for its total removal in individual states while the Church is not calling for its total doctrinal removal, probably for the reasons that I have stated.
                    When it come to Pope Francis specifically, his opinions on climate change put him in the leftist camp because I am skeptical of what comes out of the science community and its possible leftist political applications. I am quite aware that we need to be good stewards of nature, but for me, this issue crosses over the line.
                    The whole tone in the Church has shifted leftward. It is not only one or two issues. Many of us sense this and are uncomfortable with it.

                    • That makes sense, but may I offer a different perspective? I don’t think it’s the Church moving Left (partly because the Church isn’t ideological) as much as it is new scientific and psychological discoveries compel the Church to reapply unchanging principles.

                      Here’s an example. For a long time the Church taught that those who commuted suicide were likely going to hell and we didn’t even always give them funeral Masses. However, after we better understood depression and anxiety and the psychological factors normally involved in suicide, the Church changed their position because it’s likely that a person’s psychological state prevented them from being able to freely choose to sin. But it wasn’t that the Church’s teaching changed, it was that She better understood the facts of the situation and reapplied Her unchanging principles.

                      The same can be said for the death penalty. Once society and technology developed to the point that the state was able to keep innocent people safe from violent criminals, the Church reapplied her unchanging principles and taught (in the words of Pope John Paul II) that the circumstances where the death penalty is necessary (and therefore allowed) were “practically nonexistent.”

                      Likewise, with Pope Francis’ teaching on the environment (which I haven’t read, so my knowledge is limited), it’s most likely that he is just reapplying the unchanging principles of the stewardship of creation and the dignity of the human person to the new situation we find ourselves in.

                      I hope that all makes sense.

  1. Most refugees are not personally malevolent but the actions that caused them to be refugees, in most cases are. The results of massive refugee migration also cause considerable disruption. This is because the problem is not handled at the source. Most of the clergy utter pious prattalings because they know nothing else to do. They are are not competent to tackle the problems of the real world so instead of keeping silent and being thought not qualified to deal with such matters, they pontificate about nothing and remove all doubt. Lenin referred to them as useful idiots. That time has passed. They are still idiots but they have lost usefulness even to the fools on the left. There is no such thing as Catholic Social Doctrine, as if it is different even from secular doctrine. As is written, “they have Moses(commandments) and the prophets”. Let them listen to them.

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