24 June 2018

Patriarchal Letter on Immigration Issues

Sub Tuum.

On the Vigil of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist

Venerable Brethren, Dearest Sons and Daughters,

On this vigil of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist, as the vigil bonfires burn brightly around the world reminding us that St. John came into the world before Christ to bear witness to the light of Christ, the world attempts to impose yet another veil of darkness. The immigration debate rages especially in Europe and the United States. It is an extremely serious issue, touching on humanitarian matters, charity, economic stability, and national security. Of great sadness, however, is that people are throwing vitriol at each other rather than listening, finding common ground, and solving the matter in a rational manner. Most troubling is that people are squaring off against each other along political party lines rather than seeking to consider first and foremost what the traditional Christian doctrine says about the matter. Indeed, it is no surprise that vitriol is thrown in epic proportions.  

It is also no surprise that this situation has arisen. We speak in this case not so much of the immigration issues themselves, but the nonproductive manner in which humanity is trying to solve them. We are not surprised for the simple fact that modern society has abandoned God, relegating the Almighty to the position of "optional when convenient" such that He is believed to serve humanity rather than the other way around. The seeds for that were sewn first, of course, with the downfall of mankind. In modernity, it can be traced to the ideas of the Enlightenment. In that philosophy, mankind needs only reason. Egalitarianism results, for without God, the source of hierarchy in nature, mankind is no longer subservient. That egalitarianism of individuals spawns a parity of ideas. From then on, man rejects the simple fact that there are absolute truths, for to acknowledge such absolute truths would be to acknowledge a nature hierarchy. Rather than seeking those truths, he seeks only his own preferences, which, naturally, exist simultaneously with those of his fellow man. Since they are not working together as brothers and sisters to find the truth and apply it, they instead seek to promote their own ideas in competition with those of others. The abandonment of Christian hierarchy has led to the sort of relativism seen in the world today that pits man against man in a struggle for philosophical dominance. That is what we see now in the issue of immigration 

On one extreme, we have the open-border proponents and those who wish to have at least relatively easy immigration. Some such persons are very well meaning, but that does not negate the potential harm their suggestions would have and do have when put into practice. That should be of grave concern to the Christian faithful. 

On the other extreme, we have government leaders and their supporters hurling highly troubling, ultra-nationalistic vitriol towards immigrants, failing to respect people from the other side of a border as fellow human beings in the image of God. In brief, that extreme we have the potential for great humanitarian crises. That should likewise be of grave concern to the Christian faithful. 

In the middle, there are those who are trying to find a reasonable solution. Yet, there are also those who remain silent, not wanting, quite understandably, to get involved, lest the anger of the extremes be turned on them. That should also be of grave concern to the Christian faithful. 

The Christian doctrine on immigration is ultimately quite simple. First, nations exist to secure the common good of the people placed in their care. Authority comes from God, though the nations that claim the power of the government comes from the consent of the governed rather than from God can hardly make such a claim of divine authority. Nevertheless, insofar as they have various physical powers, they still possess the responsibility to care for their people. That includes physical security, which includes border security. 

Second, we must be kind as Christian people to the strangers in our midst. That means the utmost care should be taken and must be taken by governments to provide clean, sanitary, healthy and even hospitable conditions for immigrants and asylum seekers entering illegally. That does not mean that such persons should not be subject to possible criminal proceedings and deportment, but it does mean that while they are in the care of the state, they must be properly cared for. To no subset of the population should that apply more than children, the elderly, and the infirmed who are all the most vulnerable. 

That outlines the basic background of Christian doctrine that must underlie a proper immigration policy. On that there can be no dispute without rejecting the Christian faith. It is from this core foundation that people with differing viewpoints can and must begin in order to find a common-ground solution that is effective and rational. Thus far we have seen no such movement on the part of most states. Therefore, we call upon the Christian faithful to pray for a conversion of heart of those who cannot or will not see the ultimate truth of our Lord. From that truth derives the basic principles from which an authentic Christian immigration policy can derive. Anything else whatsoever is either ineffective on one hand or against humanity on the other. 

In peace,
+Rutherford Card. V.R.P. I