The Pope’s representative in Belgium has voiced his approval of the occupation of Catholic churches by Muslim illegal immigrants. [See this prior entry on the situation.]
Archbishop Karl-Josef Rauber said, “The Church has always sided with the weak.” But that isn’t what this issue is about and it reflects the sort of red herring that Us bishops have flung about in our immigration debate. Opposition to illegal immigration is not the same thing as opposition to helping the needy or opposition to legal immigration. Likewise, opposition to using Catholic churches as flophouses and as makeshift mosques is not the same thing as saying that we should not give aid to the weak.
If the bishops want to help the needy, open up some empty rectories, rent some buildings, set up tent cities on Church property. But a church is a place set aside for the worship of God.
Since the late 1990’s individual Belgian Catholic priests have been opening their churches and chapels to immigrants who by Belgian law are subject to expulsion. From the beginning the church occupation (or “church asylum”) movement shocked many conservative Catholics, who complained about the desecration of churches by men and women sharing beds in church, lighting fires and cooking on the floors, installing radios and televisions, removing altars and tabernacles, covering images of Saints and displaying banners with the name of Allah (see pictures here).
I wonder how long before Belgium’s churches end up like the Church of Holy Wisdom