Martino’s double-standard on border fences

Martino’s double-standard on border fences

Cardinal Renato Martino, prefect of the Pontifical Council on Peace and Justice, has a habit of making personal pronouncements that he makes sound like dogma on issues which call for prudential judgments on which good Catholics can disagree. Or he garbles Church teaching, like saying the death penalty is never allowable. (Wrong.) Or he simply trots outthe typical European disdain for all things American. Sometimes he hits the trifecta.

This time he was speaking about a US public policy debate over whether we should secure our porous southern border with an actual wall. He said it was “an inhuman project” that will lead to the deaths of immigrants and is a violation of the dignity of the human person, basic human rights, etc.

Yet, Robert Miller at First Things notes that if Cardinal Martino doesn’t like walls on national borders with armed guards standing atop them, he should first start closer to home.

Vatican City, as most people know, is a sovereign state, albeit a very small one entirely within Italian territory in the city of Rome. Most visitors to this tiny country enter it by stepping from the Via della Conciliazione, which is in Italy, into St. Peter’s Square, which is in Vatican City. If you’re going to those parts of Vatican City that are not regularly open to the public, however, you have to show your passport at a guardhouse, as you would at other international borders. One doesn’t just walk in. In fact, except for St. Peter’s Square, almost the entire city-state is surrounded by high stone walls, including, on its southern and western borders, parts of the famous Leonine Walls, which were put up by Pope Leo IV in the ninth century. If you took it in your head to climb over these walls, the Vatican’s army, known as the Swiss Guard, would arrest you. The guards might wear those flashy uniforms designed by Michelangelo, but they carry SIG P75 9mm pistols and Heckler & Koch MP-5 submachine guns.

If the Vatican has the right to defend its borders from illegal intrusion—and I would argue that it does—why not the US?

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Written by
Domenico Bettinelli
54 comments
  • Wearing a red hat does not make one—as we know from Cardinal Mahoney’s oft slippage into heterodoxy—an expert on anything beyond one’s academic and technical achievements. 

    But being a European automatically allows one to slam the United States, whether or not the speaker knows what he is talking about.  Unfortunately, we have the bad examples of our own American Catholic prelates to blame on the crisis of illegal immigration and the dangers that it poses but that they choose to ignore or discount.

    There is a liberal knee-jerk reaction to immense problems, dangers and crisis that call not just for the Catechism but for our God-given common sense.  It is a sinful crime not to use the latter as well.

  • But a WALL?

    You say it’s okay to regulate immigration, but you balk at a wall? What is so inherently wrong with a border fence? What better method do you propose to secure thousands of miles of border?

  • There is no inherent right to immigrate anywhere illegally.  Rick’s fallacy is similar to that of the Bolsheviks and other assorted Marxists who expropriated property in the name of the workers; or that of squatters and trespassers who take from someone else land or resources that do not belong to them.  I

    llegal immigration is theft, and if many of our prelates do not know that then, for charity’s sake, fault their education by setting them straight.

  • Cardinal Martino (and others) keep missing the point about the wall and the immigration debate.  Its NOT an immigration debate – its a debate about people breaking the law – coming here illegaly, not paying taxes, etc, etc.  Before you say it – i’m NOT anti-immigration – My great-grandparents immigrated here from Italy 100 years ago with NOTHING at all.  However, they did it legally, with all the waiting and red tape it entailed.  Yes, there is a huge economic disparity, and yes we have room for more immigrants – NOT for more illegals.  Further, where are the people calling on Mexico to reduce corruption and raise their own people out of poverty?

  • We have a process in place if Mexicans would follow it.  It is called applying for a permanent visa and hundreds of thousands of other people all over the world do it in order to come to the United States legally.  They must stand in long lines, endurong fatigue, and months and sometimes years of uncertainty.

    Mexico is a sovereign state and has been so for nearly 200 years.  During that time, it has produced one corrupt regime after another, and floundered economically through its own gross corruption and government stupidity.  When exactly will the Mexican government bear responsibilty for its own citizens?  As for the violence in Mexico, it is no different from similar countries and certainly not the responsibility of the American taxpayer in Eau Claire, Bangor, Niles, or Springfield.

    Let’s not corrupt Christianity any further with liberal political solutions that simply make matters worse.

  • Any fence we put up has to have holes in it for animal migration or we will completely distablize our environment.

    Also, I would like to point out that the Sauds who killed my countrymen came into the US from Canada. What about Canada?

    Finally, a wall can be climbed. A fence cut. I have no harsh objection to a wall, if it is done correctly.

  • Is there something wrong with the sight?  The topic heading says there are 12 comments but I see only 5.  And I see 2 responses to a comment I recall submitting, but not my comment itself.

  • If the Vatican has the right to defend its borders from illegal intrusion—and I would argue that it does—why not the US?

    Whoever has been to the Vatican, knows that the walls are not to block illegal immigrants from entering.  Come on, I can’t believe we are even making this analogy.

    It’s not an issue whether a country has a right to defend its borders.  Nobody is denying that.  But as Catholics we can’t limit our view of this issue to that of just protecting a nation’s borders, but from a human rights perspective.  We’re not saying that illegal immigration should continue, we are just pleading for other more humane solutions.  As pro-life Catholics we need to defend life at every stage, and the wall may result in more smuggling and threats to human life.

    Once our blog is up again (because we’re transferring to new Blogger Beta), I’ll post links to our position, which has been very controversial, but at the same time, we’re not deviating from Church Social teaching.  I’m not going to discuss this issue on this blog, because I’ve already been insulted in other Catholic blogs (which is sad), in regards to the wall.

    If the magisterium is speaking out on this issue, the least thing we can do is stop from being Americans first and be Catholics first.

  • Insulting those who disagree on this issue should be outside the bounds of Christian behavior. So I’m curious why you insult me and others by claiming that our position on this issue is because we’re being “Americans first” and not “Catholics first.” My position—and that others too—is based on Catholic moral principles.

    The claim that a border fence is immoral because people will kill themselves trying to cross it is fallacious.

    If my house is constantly being broken into and I build a high wall around it to keep the criminals out, whose fault is it if the criminal hurts himself trying to scale the wall?

  • Incidentally being in favor of a border fence is not the same thing as being anti-immigration. There are legal ways to enter the country. Now if folks want to discuss relaxing immigration policies regarding Mexico, we can put that on the table.

    But that’s a separate issue from enforcing the law, securing our national defense, and quite frankly depriving the coyotes of an easy means of taking advantage of poor people.

  • Dear brother
    How often I agree with you, but I am so disappointed with this item.  How can you “welcome the stranger in your midst” if you stop him from coming?  How could Joseph lead Mary and her divine Son to safety in a neighbouring land, if a wall had been built.  Everyone has the right to escape to a neighbouring land for safety when life is threatened: this is the example of the Holy Family.  By building a wall you prevent this possibility. Treat all humans who are escaping as Mary and Joseph, as Jesus. For that is love.

  • I’m not insulting.  I’m pointing out that if we only look at this issue from the rights that a nation has to protect its borders, then we’re stopping from being Christians and we’re just being Americans.  That is not insulting, it’s my opinion of how this issue is being approached.  As Catholics, we need to look at the common good, not only of Americans, but of the illegal immigrants as well, which is a very hard point to grasp.  Someone has yet to explain to me how the wall is also a humane solution for Mexicans, until then, I will still consider this wall to not be the best solution yet. 

    Like I said, I will not discuss this issue here, because I’ve done it tirelessly and I have been insulted repeatedly.  For some reason, this issue has make a lot of people very defensive.  If you’re interested in another Catholic point of view, here are some of ours:

    The Problem with American “Papist”

    U.S. Bishops against Building a Wall along the U.S./Mexico Border

    Does CCC 2241 make Provision for Building the Wall?

    Our last word on the wall

  • My position—and that others too—is based on Catholic moral principles.

    Domenico,

    Can you please help me understand how the wall aids in achieving common good of all and how it is aligned with Catholic moral principles?

  • Fr. Stefano: As I said, I am not opposed to immigration. My own grandparents were immigrants to America, but they came legally. The Catechism and other Church teaching recognizes the right of countries to control immigration, and in this case we need to control it.

    What country is more open and welcoming to immigrants from every nation, every culture, every religion than the United States? No one is.

    Katerina: It is the Church that says a country has the right and duty to protect its borders, not American jingoism. How is the common good of illegal immigrants served by creating a situation in which they are in this country illegally to be exploited by “coyotes,” unscrupulous employers, and criminals in their midst, without recourse to legitimate authority? How is the common good of Mexico served by siphoning of all of its most motivated people into the US instead of working to heal the corruption and poverty in that country?

    Rather than set your view up as the Catholic one and my view as the “American” one, you should recognize that this is a matter of prudential judgement on which good Catholics can come to varying viewpoints and still remain within the bounds of Catholic teaching.

  • You failed to answer my question about the common good of all.  You do understand that with or without a wall, people will still try to cross the border, because hunger in Mexico will not go away.  Is the wall the most humane solution? I’m not less American than you are, I’m just pleading for another solution.  Why is that so wrong?

    The CCC talks about protecting the borders, but don’t take it out of context from the richness of Church social doctrine.  The popes throughout decades have also talked about how the human person precedes the State and as such, we need to concentrate in human rights issues before we look at anything else.  The Compendium of Catholic Social Doctrine also touches on this issue and how we need to defend life at every stage and how Catholics need to stand up for policies that will not endanger life.  The US already receives enough criticism about foreign policy, because of the lack of dialogue with other nations and the wall represents another barrier that sends the wrong message.

    My concern about the wall is the same as the USCCB’s and it seems, the same as Cardinal Martino’s (hand-picked by the Pope).  So, what are your thoughts about the USCCB’s position on the wall?

  • I did answer your question. Preventing illegal immigration (as opposed to legal immigration) prevents the creation and abuse of an underclass exploited by criminals and unscrupulous businessmen.

    The wall does not endanger life. What endangers life are the people who place themselves in the situation to be hurt in trying to cross the border illegally and the people who take advantage of them.

    I think my analogy of the homeowner who builds the high wall stands.

    I think the USCCB’s position is wrong and ignores many aspects of the situation. And papal infallibility does not apply to the selection of curial officials or bishops. Pope John Paul the Great appointed Cardinal Roger Mahony to Los Angeles (and then on down the line of bishops who we’ve been saddled with over the past couple of decades).

  • Domenico,

    You are assuming in your argument that the wall will completely prevent illegal immigration.  Do you really think it will?

    Can you please explain to me which aspects of illegal immigration is the USCCB ignoring?

  • “You do understand that with or without a wall, people will still try to cross the border, because hunger in Mexico will not go away.”

    There is also hunger in the United States, but no one sanely advocates that hungry people break into supermarkets.  Instead we have a system of private and public assistance to try and alleviate that hunger—so that we do not have destitution here.  And it works for the most part.

    Again, Mexico is not simply a geographic location—it is a sovereign state with enormous—albeit misused—wealth at its disposal.  That its oligarchy is corrupt is not the responsibilty of the American taxpayer, whether citizen or legal immigrant.  This seems to be a forgotten fact.
    Also forgotten is that Mexican illegals retain primary loyalty to their mother country and do not follow the path of assimilation of legal immigrants past and present.  One need only look at the recent demonstrations or listen to the racist propaganda of La Raza and watch the Mexican flags taking precedence over our own.

    The bishops need to focus on these sources of the problem rather than encouraging it to fester even more.  Or trying to dress it up under the guise of charity and compassion—which it is not.

    There is a point of absorption of sheer numbers of illegal immigrants, and a time when our economy will not be humming quite so nicely.  When that happens, the consequence of years of illegal immigration, along with the fact that these folks are not grounded in our own culture and civic responsibilities, will produce the whirlwind of chaos and misery.

    What the bishop advocate in the long run is a prescription for disaster.

  • Dear Fra. Stephano:

    Everyone has the right to escape to a neighbouring land for safety when life is threatened

    The United States has a provision for this – it’s called “asylum”.  How many thousands of Cubans were welcomed to our shores fleeing real persecution?  People coming from Mexico are in need of work, yes, but they are not being politically persecuted; there aren’t any Herods killing all the male children of Mexican women.  Does everyone want a better life?  Of course!  I want a better life, too – if I lose my job and get foreclosed on, does that give me the right to break into my neighbor’s house and claim squatter’s rights? 

    This is the one area where I can’t reconcile the position of the church.  We are a sovereign nation and we have a right to security.  Something tells me if this were about shiploads of Chinese coming ashore in the Port of Long Beach, they would get sent back without a peep and without any calls for civil disobedience by Archbishop Mahoney, because, Lord knows that’s happened more than a few times without any outcry.

    I respectfully disagree and I ask for your prayers that I may understand fully the rationale behind villifying a nation for enforcing a just law.

  • You failed to answer my question about the common good of all.  You do understand that with or without a wall, people will still try to cross the border, because hunger in Mexico will not go away.  Is the wall the most humane solution? I’m not less American than you are, I’m just pleading for another solution.  Why is that so wrong?

    I have a question.  Why doesn’t anyone demand that the Mexican government display some compassion to their own people?  Why is it always America’s fault that we’re not generous “enough”?  Congress is about to completely naturalize some ten million people who are here illegally.  I think that’s an amazing act of mercy.  To give full U.S. standing to those who broke the law, where the law-abiding have to wait many years if they happen to come from a country on the other side of the Atlantic or the Pacific – where’s justice for them?  You know, one of the beautiful things about our faith is that we believe that committing one sin to abrogate another is a sin in itself. Immigration laws are not immoral.  Breaking them is.  Putting up a wall and offering no legal entry (or exit) would be a sin.  We have legal means of naturalizing.  If we can’t uphold a law that is not immoral, then we can’t defend anything.

  • There is also hunger in the United States, but no one sanely advocates that hungry people break into supermarkets.  Instead we have a system of private and public assistance to try and alleviate that hunger—so that we do not have destitution here.  And it works for the most part.

    Don’t deviate from my original point.  I’m not advocating illegal immigration, just another more humane measure.

    That its oligarchy is corrupt is not the responsibilty of the American taxpayer, whether citizen or legal immigrant.

    This is exactly what I’m referring to as being an American first and then a Catholic.  I’ll let John Paul II respond to you:

    It is above all a question of interdependence, sensed as a system determining relationships in the contemporary world, in its economic, cultural, political and religious elements, and accepted as a moral category. When interdependence becomes recognized in this way, the correlative response as a moral and social attitude, as a “virtue,” is solidarity. This then is not a feeling of vague compassion or shallow distress at the misfortunes of so many people, both near and far. On the contrary, it is a firm and persevering determination to commit oneself to the common good; that is to say to the good of all and of each individual, because we are all really responsible for all. (Sollicitudo Rei Socialis, 38)

    One need only look at the recent demonstrations or listen to the racist propaganda of La Raza and watch the Mexican flags taking precedence over our own.

    As an immigrant myself from Venezuela, I can say this statement is rather xenophobic and take offense as you proceed to make generalizations about all of us who work very hard in this country and respect all of its laws and policies.

    The bishops need to focus on these sources of the problem rather than encouraging it to fester even more.  Or trying to dress it up under the guise of charity and compassion—which it is not.

    I thought as Christians we always live and think by charity? Advocating human rights for immigrants, even if they are illegal is wrong for the Bishops to do? How so? Do we have to be selective then?

    There is a point of absorption of sheer numbers of illegal immigrants, and a time when our economy will not be humming quite so nicely.

    Again, a sample of how what we limit what we consider the common good to the boundaries of our own country.  But I’ll let John XXIII respond to your point:

    The solidarity which binds all men together as members of a common family makes it impossible for wealthy nations to look with indifference upon the hunger, misery and poverty of other nations whose citizens are unable to enjoy even elementary human rights. The nations of the world are becoming more and more dependent on one another and it will not be possible to preserve a lasting peace so long as glaring economic and social imbalances persist.

    Mindful of Our position as the father of all peoples, We feel constrained to repeat here what We said on another occasion: “We are all equally responsible for the undernourished peoples. [Hence], it is necessary to educate one’s conscience to the sense of responsibility which weighs upon each and every one, especially upon those who are more blessed with this world’s goods.” (Mater Et Magistra, 157 & 158)

  • TM30,

    This is the one area where I can’t reconcile the position of the church.

    Even though I do not agree with your position, I can appreciate the honesty you show as not reconciling your opinion with the Church, instead of accusing Cardinal Martino of having a double-standard.

    I invite you though to let the Popes change your mind you as you read the Social encyclicals smile

  • Pointing out the racism of La Raza is not an offense against legal immigrants, but is … pointing out an injustice by a particular group of people.

    As for “showing generosity” show me another country in the world that gives more to the world in both government and private aid than the United States. Do you know how many billions in foreign aid the US gave to Mexico last year?

    And I’ve read the social encyclicals of the Church, Katerina, I know what they say and they don’t say that a country must allow unlimited illegal immigration or that it cannot have border protections. You have failed to show having a border fence does not contribute to the common good or in fact is a detriment to the common good.

    You have ignored every one of my responses and challenges to you so unless you want to engage in a conversation, I would suggest you leave it alone.

  • “I know what they say and they don’t say that a country must allow unlimited illegal immigration”

    I don’t think it is a situation of “must allow”, though clearly the current status needs to be fixed—and that is why we are discussing it. Millions have come here illegally, though the reality is they were welcomed to come here on one level or another, and driven here by the corruption at home.

    So the current situation of having folks sneak across the border is wrong from a human perspective and begs a Christian to ask, “Am I my brother’s keeper?”

    Given Mexico’s position on our Southern border, the typical entrance/visa process others use to come here from other countries is clearly broke.  A system needs to be set up to allow regular access of people to come here for work has the condition today shows the opportunity exists.

    I don’t think it is a corruption of Christianity to state such and to ask if we are responding appropriately as Christians to the situation south of the border (both from an immigration stand point and from a standpoint if enough is being done to clean up the vile government in Mexico.)

    The illegals have been compared to those who have stolen something, but I do not see this as an absolute in God’s law.

    Borders are man-made and arbitary. If tomorrow Congress deemed it okay/legal for me to break into Dom’s, it would still remain be wrong according to God’s law for me to do so.

    If Congress were to legislate tomorrow that the illegals are now legal, well that ends it. No violation of God’s law either way.

    Any humane and vialble solution involving a wall or not, will require Mexico to clean up its act.

    thanks

  • I can’t help but notice that certain individuals here think that one’s criticism of the building of a wall necessarily implies that one supports illegal immigration.  Katerina’s argument against the wall does not amount to support for unrestricted immigration, as she has pointed out countless times.  Yet, certain individuals here accuse her of doing so and then have the audacity to claim that she is not properly addressing their points!

    She has also pointed out that the Church sanctions the rights of the State to regulate immigration as long as such a regulation does not violate human dignity.  Given that the USCCB, the Mexican Episcopal Conference, the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerants, and the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace have all spoken out against the wall and made various arguments for the wall’s violation of dignity, I’d say the burden to show that the wall is a just option in light of Catholic social doctrine rests on those who are criticizing the positions of the aforementioned episcopal and curial offices.  I do not think the burden of proof would be on Katerina when she is the one in solidarity with a few hundred bishops.

    As far as the analogy of fencing one’s yard and the immigration wall, it fails as a false analogy.  For an analogy to work in argumentation, both terms must be similar in structure and consistent in implication.  One’s front lawn and the U.S./Mexico border do not match up with this rule of logic.

    Here’s why, logically, the analogy fails (these comments come from another blog on which I had this discussion and the same analogy was made by another commentator):

    First, the analogy commits the fallacy of composition (an informal fallacy in logic), where you take a feature on the microlevel (the individual person’s right to protect private property owned by means of earned capital) and you apply it without qualification to a macro-level (the U.S.‘s geographic and political landscape).

    Second, we cannot use a false analogy in order to construct a counter-argument (also an informal fallacy in logic). I would build a high wall around my yard (or lock my front door) in order to stop individuals from: 1. tresspassing on private property; 2. vandalizing or stealing my private property; 3. Prevent harm to my capital from their use/theft of my goods. Looking at the immigration issue, an immigrant intends to do none of these three things. On the contrary, the typical immigrant: 1. seeks to acquire their own capital and dispose it on private property; 2. would be giving his/her labor for that capital; 3. the U.S. would benefit—even from illegals—minimally due to the immigrant paying sales tax on every good purchased from the capital earned. 

    The only similarity between the two terms of the analogy that I can detect is they are both illegal under current U.S. law.  But this similarity, in fact, eliminates the analogy for this aspect is held in commonwhere analogy is used to show aspects in resemblence.  The question wasn’t the legality of immigration to begin with (Katerina agrees that undocumented immigration is illegal).  The question is whether or not there is adequate justification for building an immigration wall in terms of law and in terms of Catholic social doctrine. Continued below…

  • As we can see, in terms of logic the analogy proposed is false and, therefore, inadmissable to the argument unless we are deliberately choosing to toss reason and rationality out.

    I would like to see how one reconciles Catholic issues of justice and the building of the wall.  One cannot simply state: “The Church affirms the State’s right to regulate immigration”.  Such an admission gets us nowhere in terms of justice and human dignity.  The Church does not sanction unlimited and unfettered rights of the State to regulate immigration.  If the U.S. placed snipers on the border or a high-voltage electrical system would there actually be Catholics supporting such measures based upon the Church’s affirmation of the right of the State to regulate immigration and protect its borders?

    Katerina asserts, and rightly I think, that there are more dignified options for the regulation of immigration.  She suggested a number of them and posted links where you can find these suggestions.  The issue runs deeper than immigration policy.  It runs to dignity and to the actual situation of the migrant and itinerant person.

    I suggest that deeper thinking is necessary on this topic.  The reckless assetions in defence of the wall here should not make anyone proud.  If direct reference to the Catholic social doctrines and how they are consonant with buidling a wall cannot be furnished, “I would suggest you leave it alone.”

  • Looking at all this talk that a border fence is contrary to human dignity, I can’t find a single substantive reason why. Why should a wall be an offense to human dignity. The wall itself doesn’t kill people. It simply says that in order to cross from one country to another you must go through that gate over there.

    How does the lack of a wall contribute to the common good? How does a border wall take away from the common good, unless you’re claiming that unfettered immigration is that good, which opponents of the wall say they are not claiming?

  • The wall serves as a man-made barrier to prevent the blatant disregard for normal legal immigration patterns that must be observed by almost every other country except Mexico.  Beyond the issue of people coming here to improve their economic conditions—which is something all others want as well—the Mexican government has promoted and encouraged illegal immigration as a cynical form of relieving internal social pressures that might otherwise force it to reform its notorious corruption and inefficiency.

    We have, in fact, walls of sorts on both of our eastern and western borders and much of the southeast—namely the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans and the Gulf of Mexico.  Perhaps if we dug a mile wide canal instead of a wall along our border with Mexico, the horror of such a thing as a protective “wall” might not appear as ominous.

    On the other hand, Europe, and especially Italy, are in the throes of depopulation except for their Islamic immigrants.  Maybe some of our Italian cardinals might want to sponsor some of our Catholic Mexican illegals to help out the crisis of contraception there?

  • Domenico,

    I never said I had an idea to solve the problems associated with illegal immigration.  I also made it clear that I do not endorse illegal immigration, because it does not benefit neither the Mexicans nor the Americans.  I can’t vote yet, because I’m not a US citizen until the next month, that is why the least I can do is raise awareness for those Catholics that can vote to do so based on the Church’s social principles.
    You said that I have ignored your points, but I have not, that is why I said that in your argument you are assuming that by erecting the wall, poor Mexicans will stop suffering from hunger and precarious conditions and that illegal immigration would stop altogether and that they will not be “exploited by “coyotes,” unscrupulous employers, and criminals in their midst.”  By doing so, yes your argument makes the wall humane.  However, that is not the case.

    My family and I have been through pretty precarious situations in which my dad, as an engineer, said that he would do anything to not see his family lacking the basic necessities of life.  When he said anything he meant working any job and finding it anywhere, despite of the risk.  I have friends who still live with their parents in their late 20s so they can save money and cannot even eat regularly so they can afford some (not all) of the medicines that their parents require to survive.  Oh, and they are dentists, professors, engineers, who earn the equivalent of $200/month.  My father was desperate and my friends now, are very desperate to survive.  Don’t worry, they will not come here illegally; they have other regions they can emigrate to, but I’m trying to make a point here.  The wall was not going to stop my father and would not stop my friends; I can assure you of that.  Thus, this issue is about survival and, hence, becomes about human dignity.

    Therefore, there is my basis for not supporting the wall: human dignity.  Now your point is that walls don’t kill people.  You’re right only to a certain extent.  The wall serves as a deterrent, so let’s say that for the sake of the argument, that with the wall you will reduce immigration by 95%.  What about those 5% that are in the state of desperation to survive as I mentioned above and will do anything to cross the wall? Even if it is submitting themselves to these “underground” networks that will naturally occur with this new restriction? Domenico, what happens with the wall, is what happens with drug and human trafficking.  Evil people are always going to find ways to go around these restrictions and take the most advantage of those honest people in need who really want to survive.  As a pro-life Catholic, I oppose the wall, because those 5% may risk their lives in the attempt to cross this barrier.  As a pro-life Catholic who seeks the common good, I want to consider other policies that will be fair equally to immigrants and Americans and that will discourage smuggling and human trafficking across the border and will also minimize violence and crime in border towns.

  • …continued

    I still take offense at the La Raza comment, because I don’t know the reason for bringing it up in this human rights discussion.  I do not endorse their actions at all, because it defeated the point they were trying to make, but as it happened here in Houston, those people who had the Mexican flags and were protesting were (as many of them pointed out) second- or third-generation Mexicans who were either US citizens or legal immigrants and didn’t even know what they were protesting against.  I take offense, because the statement was generalizing the behavior of immigrants as a whole (read it again if you’d like) and that is unfair.  It’s the kind of response I always get about this problem as if this will justify the wall or other inhumane policies.  It defeats someone’s argument when a statement like this is made, because it is very isolated.

    You either didn’t read the social encyclicals close enough or you read them the same way a fundamentalist reads the Bible, because you’re saying that you didn’t read the Popes denying a nation’s right to protect its borders.  Well, you’re not going to read that anywhere.  You’re not going to read in the social encyclicals that the US should not build the wall either.  Come on, Domenico, you know as Catholics we don’t do that.  We don’t isolate passages from the CCC or Scriptures to justify our positions and ignore the richness of the Church’s tradition.  The Popes or the Magisterium are not going to tell us every solution for every social problem.  It’s not their job to do so anyway.  That is why we’re having this discussion to begin with, so as lay Catholics we can decide which laws and policies will uphold Christian principles.  The Church does give us a foundation for us to make these calls and those are the ones I’ve been citing: the human person precedes the State, commitment of industrialized nations to the underdeveloped nations, the common good of all, etc.

    For what is worth, my whole point is that we can do better than this wall.  I don’t know what that new law or policy is, but as a Catholic, I can’t accept it and I’m open to other options.

    Also, many of you keep criticizing Mexico’s government, which I also do, as I criticize my own home country, or the EU, or Russia, or China, etc.  BUT, I also criticize and recognize the shortcomings of the US.  I think the double-standard here is not Martino’s, but the Americans’.  For some reason, we are able to see the splinter in Mexico’s eye, but not the splinter in America’s eye.

  • John,

    Nobody is saying that the problems you are associating with immigration do indeed exist, but we cannot positively discuss this issue if we don’t start with the same basis, which is human dignity.

    As an analogy, let me point out that your position is the same one that many people have with condoms and AIDS in Africa.  We all want the same thing: less people suffering from AIDS, but do you really think that the Church just looked at the problems that unsafe sex causes to make this assertion? NO! They focus on the human person first and his/her dignity and integrity and how contraception destroys human love by preventing life.  Do many Church and secular leaders agree with the Church on this matter? No! That is why social issues are difficult to discuss if the basis of an argument is not the same: the human person as created through the gratuitous action of God.

  • Second, we cannot use a false analogy in order to construct a counter-argument (also an informal fallacy in logic). I would build a high wall around my yard (or lock my front door) in order to stop individuals from: 1. tresspassing on private property; 2. vandalizing or stealing my private property; 3. Prevent harm to my capital from their use/theft of my goods. Looking at the immigration issue, an immigrant intends to do none of these three things. On the contrary, the typical immigrant: 1. seeks to acquire their own capital and dispose it on private property; 2. would be giving his/her labor for that capital; 3. the U.S. would benefit—even from illegals—minimally due to the immigrant paying sales tax on every good purchased from the capital earned.

    In regards to the earlier debate between American Papist, Gerard Augustinus and Katerina/Michael over this issue—“Thoughts about St. Blog’s Debate over the “Border Fence”—I brought up one aspect I felt was neglected—the wall is not just in response to illegal immigration, but also in the interest of national security, which I think carries significant weight in this debate. The concern of those advocating the establishment of a wall is not just the curbing of illegal immigration, but the threat posted by Mexican drug cartels and their paramilitary armies with increasing signs of advanced weaponry and clear evidence that the present weaknesses in our borders are being exploited by criminal and terrorist organizations.

    Case in point I think one should read “Outgunned and Outmanned: Local Law Enforcement Confronts Violence along the Southern Border – a congressional hearing on this very issue, with some testimony from those involved in patrolling our borders, or the more recent “A line in the Sand. Confronting the Threat at the Southwest Border” – A Nov. 1, 2006 report by the Subcommittee on Investigations of the Committee on Homeland Security issues this interim report summarizing its findings regarding the criminal activity and violence taking place along the Southwest border of the United States between Texas and Mexico and the number of OTM (“Other than Mexican”) crossing the border from the Middle East.

    Simply stating that the wall is an offense against human dignity does not constitute an argument to that effect. I recognize that Katerina / Michael are not advocates of open immigration or unprotected borders. That said, from what I’ve read so far, there is little indication that those criticizing the wall (including the Bishops) have substantially considered the argument for national security and the problems outlined in the congressional reports which provide the context for the wall. If one protests that a wall is “not humane” but advocates “other policies”, I’d think further clarification of alternative policies are in order.

  • Chris,

    I wasn’t able to view your links on national security and the fence.  They gave me errors… I really want to learn more about all the sides of this issue.  I’ve even read some concerns that environmentalists have about this fence, which I would’ve never thought of.

    I think you have a valid point about national security, but this fence is being sold as part of an immigration policy, not as part of homeland security (that I know of, I may be wrong).  I think it is important to look at all the spheres of concern around this issue.

    Nevertheless, it is important to note though that my point and Michael’s is to ensure that Cardinal Martino and the US Bishops are not attacked as they have been for maintaining a position about the fence that is clearly aligned with the Church’s social teachings.  Many have not just politely disagreed with the Cardinal and the USCCB, but blatantly condemned the magisterium as if they contradict core Christian principles.  This kind of attacks do not benefit anyone in the Church in any way.  In social matters, we always look at the Church’s wisdom for guidance so as Catholic laity we can make the right decisions.

    The same kind of attacks took place when Leo XIII wrote Rerum Novarum, which is now considered the Magna Carta of the Church’s social doctrine, so I guess that is how history goes.

  • I think you have a valid point about national security, but this fence is being sold as part of an immigration policy, not as part of homeland security (that I know of, I may be wrong).

    Well, you are wrong since nearly everyone who advocates a fence has brought it up as both an illegal immigration and national security issue.

    Many have not just politely disagreed with the Cardinal and the USCCB, but blatantly condemned the magisterium as if they contradict core Christian principles.

    The bishops’ opinion on this matter is not a matter of Church teaching, it is their opinion on a matter of prudential judgment. Unfortunately, they and their defenders like you have presented their opinion as if it were dogma. It is not.

  • Would someone please help me? 

    My next door neighbor’s children are always hungry, have no shoes, few clothes and possessions and are very poorly treated by their parents.  I don’t really get why these kids have such a hard life when their parents seem to have the resources to give them a better life.  Anyway, these damn kids keep sneaking into my basement looking for food and shelter.  More than a few of them have died in the yard in between our properties, trying to reach my house.  Enough is enough.  I am headed to Home Depot in the morning to buy some bricks and mortar to build a big freakin’ wall to keep these damn dirty hungry dying kids out.

    Any handymen out there who can lend me a hand?

  • Funny, I’m having the same problem, except I’ve been giving my neighbors hundreds of dollars a week to buy food and clothes for their kids, but they keep wasting it.

    Of course, I’m a little more compassionate than to let them live secretly in my basement on whatever food they can scrounge up, so in addition to building a fence I’m going to court to get legal rights to have them removed from an abusive home and take them into my own home where I will treat them as my own children and maybe one day adopt them.

  • Wow that’s generous of you.  Why not skip the first step of building the wall and go straight to direct aid?

  • Because the wall keeps out my neighbor’s crackhead brother and it also prevents the kids from sneaking into the basement through window where they can get hurt. Instead they know to come to the front door and ask for help.

    And I’ve been giving them direct aid for years and will continue to do so in the hope that the parents will get their act together and for the sake of the kids who don’t get out.

  • Not to mention the drug gangs sporting an increasingly complex arsenal of weaponry that see your basement as an opportune avenue to the rest of your house.

  • “the Mexican government has promoted and encouraged illegal immigration as a cynical form of relieving internal social pressures that might otherwise force it to reform its notorious corruption and inefficiency.”

    I wish more of our Church leaders would raise this issue and lead the charge for reform in Mexico. It cuts right to the root cause of the issue as corrupt governments and failed policies south of the border are a contributing factor to the integrated labor market that currently exists between the two countries.

    There seems to be a silence within the Church regarding Mexico’s responsibilities for the immigration problem(though the media could very well be selective in its coverage of the border/immigration issue). Perhaps some at the Vatican find it trendy and easy to criticize the US, while others may remember the great persecution the Church encountered in Mexico 70-100 years ago.

    Maybe those of us in the pews need to demand more of our leaders so to bring about change and reform in Mexico and other Latin American countries.

  • The bishops’ opinion on this matter is not a matter of Church teaching, it is their opinion on a matter of prudential judgment. Unfortunately, they and their defenders like you have presented their opinion as if it were dogma. It is not.

    It IS matter of Church teaching! Why do you keep saying it is not?

    PLEASE, prove to me with documents and Church tradition for the past century that the Cardinal and the Bishops are not speaking from what the Church has taught on social matters!

    It’s no longer about the wall or not, Domenico, it’s about you and many other Catholics attacking the magisterium here about matters of Church social doctrine.  Look, if you’re not familiar with this sphere of Church doctrine, that is fine, just disagree with it, but please don’t be deceiving enough to say that they are just giving their opinion.  Again, I think the double standard here is YOURS; not Cardinal Martino’s or the USCCB’s.  To say so is to ignore decades of Church’s social teachings. 

    The Compendium of Social Doctrine of the Church may be a good gift for you this Christmas.

  • My next door neighbor’s children are always hungry, have no shoes, few clothes and possessions and are very poorly treated by their parents.  I don’t really get why these kids have such a hard life when their parents seem to have the resources to give them a better life.  Anyway, these damn kids keep sneaking into my basement looking for food and shelter.  More than a few of them have died in the yard in between our properties, trying to reach my house.  Enough is enough.  I am headed to Home Depot in the morning to buy some bricks and mortar to build a big freakin’ wall to keep these damn dirty hungry dying kids out.

    Sad to read such comments in a Catholic blog and those who second it.

  • Sad to read such comments in a Catholic blog and those who second it.

    I gather you’re not a native English speaker. That’s called satire.

    It IS matter of Church teaching! Why do you keep saying it is not?

    The principle that all human life is worthy of protection and that all people have an innate human dignity is dogma. Whether a border fence is an attack on those principles is a matter of prudential judgment.

    Look, if you’re not familiar with this sphere of Church doctrine, that is fine, just disagree with it, but please don’t be deceiving enough to say that they are just giving their opinion.

    I have a degree in theology from Franciscan University of Steubenville and completed the coursework for a Master’s degree in the same discipline. I also have more than a decade of experience as a Catholic journalist writing about these and many other issues.

    You are 24 years old and still in the process of getting a degree in pastoral studies. You can take your snotty uppoty 24-year-old “I know everything” attitude and go back to your own blog, thank you very much.

    The wisest young person is the one who knows how much she doesn’t know and doesn’t assume she always knows more than her elders when she disagrees with them.

    I own a Compendium of Social Doctrine, thank you very much, and have read Centesimus Annus, Rerum Novarum, Laborem Exercens, and all of the other social encyclicals. Just because you say they mean a particular thing does not make your interpretation of them correct.

    Nowhere in the teaching of the Church does it say that border fences are immoral or sinful. It is your interpretation (and that of certain, but by no means all, bishops) that it is. But that is not a binding judgment of the ordinary or extraordinary magisterium.

    I suggest you review any coursework you have taken on dogmatic principles and magisterial teaching authority of the Church.

    I’m tired of your insults and assumption of knowledge you do not have.

  • If I could offer another illustration here—last year Pope Benedict XVI expressed his personal support for the July 2005 “Make Poverty History” campaign for third-world debt relief, in doing so following in the footsteps of his predecessor.

    However, as discussed—Domenico will pardon the self-promotion here—in another post of mine, Debt-Relief, Trade Reform and the “ONE Campaign”, there were significant practical and moral reasons not to endorse a policy of “100% debt forgiveness”, the debate over this issue being much more complex than one would gather.

    I think Domenico and I and Katrina would all agree that debt-relief (like immigration and border-protection) is a matter of social doctrine that the Church is entitled to speak on. (Certainly no dispute there).

    However, the disagreement btw/ Katerina and Domenico hinges on whether Catholics are bound to heed opinion on this matter and imbue it with the same weight as when, say, a pope or a cardinal spoke on a matter of Catholic doctrine which did not allow for such “diversity of opinion.”

    From the way some have presented this issue, disagreeing with the prudential opinion of a Pope or a cardinal on the application of Catholic social doctrine (i.e., in practical policy) is tantamount to an assault on the magisterium—and that simply is not an accurate characterization of this debate.

  • Thanks for reading my profile and insulting me accordingly.

    I guess that is why you have to approve comments, because you don’t like those who disagree with you or know more than you do (because as you pointed out you’re the one with the degree and I’m not!!) smile

    Good luck with your self-indulgent blog, because I can’t call it a Catholic blog as you have showed a double-standard with Catholic teaching and now knowing that you even degrees in Theology, it makes it that much worse.

  • First, I haven’t “moderated” a single one of your comments. You can go off in a huff and a snit, but accusing me of censoring you when I have not is just petty. And I think it’s ironic considering you’re the one who’s been hurling accusations: You’ve called me xenophobic, self-indulgent, fundamentalist, “more American than Catholic,” and now you call me not even Catholic.

    Consulting your profile was not an insult to you. It was your elitist attitude—condescendingly telling me someone should give me the Compendium of Social Doctrine for Christmas—that prompted me to see what qualifies you as such an expert.

    I think your opinion on this matter is wrong. I think mine is right. I think I have the proper interpretation of Church teaching. I think you have more studying and learning to do. That’s not an insult. It’s an opinion. My opinion.

    I’ve liked your blog, Katerina, and I think it’s a fine Catholic blog. I’ve linked to it before, quite recently in fact. But you have to stop taking people’s disagreements with your interpretation of Church teaching so personally. Certainly you should consider carefully before hurling insults at those who disagree with you.

  • Chris,

    As I commented on your blog, my original point based on some bloggers’ reactions to Martino has always been: don’t call Cardinal Martino an idiot or accuse him for having a double-standard on this issue, because he is obviously being guided by principles that the Church has dictated on social matters.  The wall has many implications and we need to discuss all of them and decide on the best possible solution.  It’s not like Martino is supporting abortion or contraception, he is (as well as the US bishops) against a measure that they consider inappropriate BASED ON the Church’s social principles.  If somebody wants the wall up; that’s fine.  You can politely disagree with the Church and let’s sit down and talk about it.  But don’t accuse these men for speaking on behalf of the Church and for doing it rightly.

    Domenico,

    And I think it’s ironic considering you’re the one who’s been hurling accusations: You’ve called me xenophobic, self-indulgent, fundamentalist, “more American than Catholic,” and now you call me not even Catholic.

    Don’t take it so personally.  I made the analogy of your reading of Church social documents as being read like a fundamentalist, not that you are one, because you were picking and choosing what you wanted to prove your point or were trying to find the word “fence.”  I also made the remark that some statements came across xenophobic and that by attacking Cardinal Martino in such way came across as being more American than Catholic first.  Now I tell you: that is my opinion about your point.  That is different than insulting someone’s intelligence or first language, which you obviously did to me.

    I own a Compendium of Social Doctrine, thank you very much, and have read Centesimus Annus, Rerum Novarum, Laborem Exercens, and all of the other social encyclicals. Just because you say they mean a particular thing does not make your interpretation of them correct.

    My recommendation was an honest one about getting a Compendium, because it truly came across as if you weren’t familiar with it, because you only mentioned the CCC and border protection isolated from the context of other social teachings.  That’s all.  You didn’t need to take it so personally.  By the way, apparently I interpreted the Church social documents the same way that the Cardinal and the Bishops did, so I feel good about that one. 

    The wisest young person is the one who knows how much she doesn’t know and doesn’t assume she always knows more than her elders when she disagrees with them.

    This is not about age.  It’s about stating the facts.  Your argument becomes less credible when you try to force me to agree with you because of my age.

  • Nowhere in the teaching of the Church does it say that border fences are immoral or sinful. It is your interpretation (and that of certain, but by no means all, bishops) that it is. But that is not a binding judgment of the ordinary or extraordinary magisterium.

     
    I already told you that you’re not going to find “walls” quoted anywhere in the Church social documents.  That is why I mentioned that you were reading these documents the same way a fundamentalist reads the Bible.  You can’t expect the Church to address every single social issue that can ever come up.  That is why we look at the social teachings in context, instead of looking at isolated passages from the CCC as you did.  And if you are familiar with these social teachings, why haven’t you mentioned the rights of migrant workers? Or the “serious” duty of wealthy nations towards underveloped nations? You seem to only portray one small side of the issue.  You can’t blame me for not knowing that you were actually familiar with these doctrines.  You weren’t mentioning them!

    The principle that all human life is worthy of protection and that all people have an innate human dignity is dogma. Whether a border fence is an attack on those principles is a matter of prudential judgment.

    And using contraception is not a dogma either.  Is that a matter of prudential judgment? I repeat it again: don’t say that it is the Cardinal that has double standards here.  He is not doing anything wrong.  The Cardinal and the Bishops are looking at the whole picture and speaking based on the Church’s social doctrines. 

    I see that you don’t agree with Cardinal Martino.  As I’ve repeatedly said, that is fine, you can keep disagreeing with him and the USCCB.  That is your prudential judgment.  Just don’t portray him or the US bishops as not knowing what they are doing.  That is deceiving and it doesn’t help anyone in the Church.  As you said: that is YOUR opinion and you obviously have a right to have it.  But as a person who has Theology degrees, as you pointed out, and a magazine, your comments about the magisterium should be more responsible and careful, especially when they have not done anything that contradicts the principles that we all believe and try to live by.

  • nd if you are familiar with these social teachings, why haven’t you mentioned the rights of migrant workers? Or the “serious” duty of wealthy nations towards underveloped nations? You seem to only portray one small side of the issue.

    That would be because I’m addressing the issue of whether the US should build a border fence, not the issue of migrant workers or underdeveloped nations. Yet, I did mention quite a few times how the US is the biggest donor of foreign aid in the world, a point you’ve ignored several times. The debate over whether a wall should be built can be discussed apart from those other issues.

    In fact, the pattern I see from both you and Michael is that you make assertion after assertion without providing evidence, but merely yell out the names of documents as if by simply saying that these documents support your arguments, we should all be convinced of it.

    And using contraception is not a dogma either.  Is that a matter of prudential judgment?

    I’m not sure if you’re trying to be ironic here, but Humanae Vitae is indeed dogmatic and the use of contraception is forbidden by Church teaching. It is not a matter of prudential judgment. It is specifically forbidden.

    The crux of the disagreement seems to me to be that you consider a border fence immoral because there would be some small percentage of people who continue to the throw themselves against it and presumably be deprived of life. I’m not sure why you assume the fence would be life threatening. We’re not talking about guards in towers shooting those who try to cross like the Berlin Wall.

    Again, I’ll try another analogy. If I have a door on my house and some desperate person kept throwing himself against it to get inside and hurts himself in the process does that mean my door is immoral because it doesn’t respect human dignity? Now let’s say this desperate man is hungry but I’ve put up a sign on the door that says “ring the bell for food,” yet he continues to try to break in and hurts himself in he process, is the door still immoral?

    I just disagree with your assertion—which I’m not sure is the assertion of Martino or the USCCB, by the way—that the wall is immoral because some small percentage of people would continue to exercise poor judgment and injure themselves trying to cross the border illegally.

  • That would be because I’m addressing the issue of whether the US should build a border fence, not the issue of migrant workers or underdeveloped nations. Yet, I did mention quite a few times how the US is the biggest donor of foreign aid in the world, a point you’ve ignored several times. The debate over whether a wall should be built can be discussed apart from those other issues.

    And someone who would know better, as you obviously do, because you pointed it out to me in your resume, you should know that when we make any argument, in order to be fair, we look at ALL sides of the issue, not just one.  That is the MAIN flaw of your argument, because it makes it less credible and, hence, my problem with it.  Thanks for admitting it.

    I don’t understand how you can talk about immigration and not even mention the right of migrants and only look at the US perspective.  So I guess that means you’re ignoring the common good of all, right? By only looking at this issue from a US standpoint.  I would think so.  That is why I your points about the US being the largest foreign aid to the world did not come across as important in your argument, because you obviously don’t understand where that foreign aid goes or the benefits that it ACTUALLY has.  The US doesn’t have any control on how that aid may be used, I suppose, but what it does have control on is on establishing humane immigration policies and that is what we’re discussing right now.

    I just disagree with your assertion—which I’m not sure is the assertion of Martino or the USCCB, by the way—that the wall is immoral because some small percentage of people would continue to exercise poor judgment and injure themselves trying to cross the border illegally.

    You’re getting confused now.  I never used the word “immoral” for the wall.  That word has been used by you all over and even once by me.  It’s all been you by putting words in my argument that I never used.  And my position is not any different than the USCCB’s or Martino’s.  I don’t understand where you’re going with this.  Probably trying to underestimate my argument.  Read the USCCB’s letter to the president and let me know if there is anything different from what I’ve pointed out here.

    And I will say it one last time what my problem is with your argument here, because you keep going back and forth.  I’m only pleading for a little bit more of responsibility when analyzing statements coming from the magisterium on this issue as well as other social issues, because even though as you pointed out, Cardinal Martino or the USCCB are not speaking directly about a dogma, they are DEFINITELY not contradicting it either! And I will still wait some day for you to admit that.

    Thanks for the discussion.

  • because even though as you pointed out, Cardinal Martino or the USCCB are not speaking directly about a dogma, they are DEFINITELY not contradicting it either!

    And I never said they were contradicting a dogma. I said I disagreed with their prudential judgment.

    And since we’re going around and around in circles on this, apparently missing each other’s plain meaning, I think this is the last word on this thread.

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