Pro-Life Pro-Immigrant

Senate passes immigration reform

Which one of you, wishing to construct at tower, does not sit down and calculate the cost? (Luke 14:28)

Building anything requires deliberation, reflection, informed decision-making. We don’t need the Lord to tell us that; common sense tells us. But it helps when higher authority spells things out.

Now, I do not claim to know much about politics. I do know that politics involves the art of building up the nation. And I also know that when the American Bishops instruct us priests to preach on a certain political topic on a given Sunday, I had better try to do it.

parable towerIn a republican democracy like ours, politics begins with our reflecting on a question like this: What kind of country do we want to live in?

We know we want a country that respects the gift of life. We want to live in a country where babies don’t get killed in the womb. We want a country where no one’s life gets snuffed-out arbitrarily. Where people get treated fairly under law.

[You may recall that we already discussed the topic which we are under orders to consider. I gave a little sermon on this subject on the Sunday before Independence Day.]

We want to have the kind of country that other people want to come to—a free and decent and honest country, a nation of humane laws and wholesome customs. And when people come here, we want to welcome them. We want to open our communities up to them. A community that can welcome new people is a strong community. A community obsessed with border-fences is not.

Flight Into Egypt by Giotto
Flight Into Egypt by Giotto

People sometimes ask me, ‘Why does the Church care so much about the innocent and defenseless unborn?’ I could give a lot of answers, but a good one might be: ‘Well, God Himself lived as an innocent and defenseless unborn child once. Where would we be if His life had not been respected? Where would the human race be if the innocent and defenseless baby Jesus had not been loved and welcomed?’

If someone asked me, ‘Why does the Church care so much about immigants?’ I could give a similar answer.

Rep. Robert HurtThe Lord Himself migrated with the Blessed Mother and St. Joseph—first southwest to Egypt, then north to Galilee. In Galilee, both Mary and Joseph found themselves far away from their own ancestral homeland of Judah. Truth to tell, the whole People of God migrated. In fact, they received the Old Covenant while migrating from Egypt to the Promised Land. And the Church has always migrated—from one country to another, yes. But even more so: from here on earth to the final goal. During this pilgrim life, all of us Christians are migrating to our true homeland in heaven. Without the hope of migrating to heaven, where would we be?

So when we see migrants, we do not see ‘ferners;’ we do not see strangers. We see ourselves; we see brothers and sisters. When we see migrants, we do not ask, ‘What in the name of God are those people doing here?’ To the contrary, we each ask ourselves, ‘What in the name of God am I doing to help these fellow travelers of mine?’

Especially when these fellow travelers share our Catholic faith. When they love the Lord Jesus, like we do, and the Blessed Virgin. And respect God’s commandments and belong to His holy Church, governed by the successor of St. Peter—like we do.

So: Every law-abiding resident of our country should have a reasonable way of becoming a citizen. We do not want a permanent underclass—people living here with no legal rights, because they have no way of becoming citizens. We do not want families to get separated from each other because mothers or fathers get deported. We don’t want any of our brothers or sisters treated with anything less than the same due process of law that we would all hope for.

The quick-and-easy phrase for all this is: ‘comprehensive immigration reform.’ The immigration laws of the United States have been reformed at various points in history, when we have reflected together on how to keep this tower of ours well-built, the tower called America. This seems like the time to reform the immigration laws again.

Rep. Morgan GriffithThe US Senate passed a bill that our Bishops welcomed. We are urging our members of the House of Representatives to seek a similar solution, so that the reform can become law. In the bulletin, you will find a flyer with practical suggestions for how to contact our congressman.

As for ourselves, our future together as a cluster of two august parishes involves: transplants from northern states, native Virginians, transplants from Mexico, transplants from Vietnam, transplants from Louisiana, Texas, Kentucky, Ohio, and God only knows where else. All of us migrants on earth belong here. We are all Catholics. If we don’t know each other’s languages, at least we can communicate by kneeling down on the same kneelers and believing in the same incarnate God together.

And we can love each other. We can build a holy tower of brotherly love together. And a loving thing to do would be: for all registered voters to contact their US Representative and let him know that we want a legal path to citizenship for our friends.

One thought on “Pro-Life Pro-Immigrant

  1. Father Mark,

    I always thought that an operating definition of “ferner” was someone who DIDN’T live in Rocky Mount, Virginia.

    While your premise that there IS a link between the abortion issue and the immigration issue is plausible, the link is not antithetical. Both issues are being treated, and “sold”, as issues of “fairness” and “reasonableness” when it comes to accepting abortions and illegal immigration. Neither of these positions is fair, nor reasonable, nor is either rational.

    They are, instead, primary examples of our political system gone agley, selling “popular” positions for votes.

    Our country has benefitted immensely from policies supporting immigration over its history. It has also benefitted greatly from policies supporting marriage, family, and fecundity. Neither abortion nor illegal immigration serve the interests of this country. They do serve the interests of individuals; but those interests are highly suspect in light of the costs implicit in their legitimization.

    The subject of immigration is treated in: , ,and

    It seems to reveal that we’re talking about 1 million legal and 1/2 million illegal immigrants a year. Were our national birth rate of citizens that of the early 20th Century, we might not be having this discussion:
    ( ) . As is, the 13.8 (per 1,000 population in 2009) birthrate (vs. 30.1 in 1910) compares to the approximate 5 per 1,000 increase in population due to immigration (of which 1.7 is illegal). When we add the abortion statistic of approximately 4 abortions per 1,000 population ( ) we get a more full view of these changes in the population of our country. All these might be legitimately compared to the replacement rate, currently 14.7 per thousand. Any time the total rate approaches this number, that nation is headed for extinction.

    All in the foregoing paragraph would suggest that we’re talking a lot about incidences which are not significant in comparison to the overall population, That population, by the way, is remaining essentially static — so much for “go, multiply, and be fruitful — and there might lie the true nature of the situation regarding the legalization of both abortion and illegal (sounds like an oxymoron in the making; but that is what we’re talking about, especially after a series of past legalizations makes it clear by action) immigration. “By their fruits you will know them.” The fruits of abortion are murders. The fruits of legitimizing illegal immigration are both the rendering absurd of the “process” of legal immigration (perhaps not a bad start to correcting that situation), and yet another downgrading of our notion of our being “a nation ruled by laws” (which can’t be meaningful if we change the laws constantly to suit our whims).

    All, suggest that what is needed on both subjects is a national soul-searching. Unfortunately, we now live in a nation in which the use of the political establishment to conduct such a process (soul-searching) has been rendered ludicrous. So, we’d best attend to it ourselves, by prayer, by discussion with our fellow citizens (in a forum such as this might be appropriate), and by seeking new media (i.e., other than the professional press and political parties) in which to extend the process to the nation.

    In God we trust.



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