The Church & Immigration

By | September 2, 2019

Hi, my name’s Fr. Mike Schmitz
and this is Ascension Presents. So, people have been asking me a lot lately —
because it’s been in the news a lot lately — about immigration.
Like, what’s a Catholic stance on immigration? What’s a Catholic to do
when it comes to the issue of immigration? And I say to them,
“Thanks for throwing me a softball.” ‘Cause it’s a complex issue (obviously), right?
So right out the gate, I want to treat it
with the seriousness that it deserves. This is a complex situation. Here’s one of my problems with it though… Sorry, not with IT,
with people’s approach to it. It seems like people either fall
into one of two camps: either they are heartless, like, “Countries have borders, we need borders, that’s the deal,” or they’re headless, in the sense of like
“You know what? We’ve got room. Let anyone in!” And I would say
I think there’s another way, to not have to cut out our hearts
or to cut off our heads. I’m not gonna be offering policy. I don’t know policy.
I’m a priest and we stay out of politics, more or less. I mean you could say you debate that,
but I — as this priest — stays out of politics and out of policy,
‘cause it’s way too complex for a small brain like mine. But I can give you some principles. What are the principles
that are guiding my stance? And next, are the principles
that are guiding my stance, are they Republican or Democrat,
are they pro-immigrant or anti-immigrant, or are they… Christian? Are they the principles
that God himself and the Church have offered to us? Principle number one: we believe,
as Catholic Christians, that all human beings are made in God’s image and likeness
and must be treated as such. Keep in mind that doesn’t mean
“Well, in that case, everyone in.” And it also doesn’t mean “In that case, protect everyone on the inside by having a border and letting no one in.” But that’s the first principle. Every human being is made in God’s image and likeness,
and must be treated as such. When it comes to borders,
principle number two is: a country — a sovereign nation — has a right
and a responsibility to protect its’ sovereign borders. It’s literally actually one of the roles
of the government — to protect its own borders, to policy or monitor its own borders. To take care of
who comes in, who doesn’t get to come in. I mean, this is the reason why
you and I have locks on our doors, right? It’s because you and I get to say, okay, this is our —
I’m responsible for the people living under this roof. So, I’m also gonna be responsible
(because I have a right and a duty) to make sure that people who are coming in and leaving
are not going to harm my children. I’m not saying in that
immigrants are violent and they’re all terrible. I’m not saying that. I’m saying that it’s the duty of
a government to monitor its borders. Not only do they have the right to do that,
they have the responsibility to do that. People should respect those laws,
provided that they’re not unjust. Now, there’s a difference between
a law that you don’t like and a law that’s unjust… there’s a difference between a law that is difficult
and a law that is unfair. So keep that in mind.
Again, not policy. Principle. Principle number one:
God’s image and likeness, treat like that. Number two: it is the right and the duty of a government
to protect its own borders. Number three gets more difficult though.
Number three — the Catechism states this — in Catechism 22:41, it says
“The more prosperous nations are obliged, to the extent that they’re able, to welcome the foreigner
in search of security and means of livelihood that they cannot find
in their country of origin.” We should slow down
and say that again. The more prosperous nations are obliged,
to the extent that they’re able, to welcome the foreigner in search of opportunities
and in search of asylum — essentially, security — they’re not able to get
in their country of origin. Okay, so all of a sudden,
we have both head and heart, right? The head that says it’s the duty of a country
to monitor its borders. Why? Because the duty of a country
is first to its own citizens, and then to those outside. But then here’s your heart,
and also mind, that says the more prosperous the nation is,
the more its obligated — to the extent that it’s able — to welcome the foreigner
in search of livelihood or security. The United States is quite a prosperous nation.
That does not mean “no borders”. What that means is, our intention —
how we look at borders and immigration — has to be directed
by those three basic principles. Those are three principles
that are outside of me, right? I live in a border state, but it’s Minnesota…
so… you know. We have some Canadians come down…
basically because they like to shop here. We don’t have a lot of people seeking asylum
coming across the Canadian border. So I don’t live on some of those border states
that many of you might live on. So, for me, it’s a principle thing. My boots aren’t on the ground when it comes to
welcoming people into — literally — into my own home who are seeking asylum
or seeking a livelihood. But here’s where we have to
start thinking like Christians, and thinking like Christians did
from really long ago all the way up until recently. St. Ambrose once said — or maybe St. John Chrysostom
— they both said, in the early church, they said this line. They said if you have two coats
and your neighbor has zero coats, your second coat
belongs to your neighbor. So if you’re prosperous, you have more than you need,
and your neighbor has nothing? Then, hey Christian,
go give what you have to them. Because ultimately, if you’re a follower of Christ,
it belongs to them. No, not because it’s just,
but because that’s love. Not because it’s just, because [you] have to…
they’re not entitled to it… But because you’re following Jesus,
we have to have the hearts that can say, “Hmm, what I have an abundance of
belongs to those who don’t have anything.” Now wait, that doesn’t mean —
keep in mind — this doesn’t mean… what I think many of us might hear, “If you have two coats and your neighbor has zero,
ask the government to give them a coat.” That’s a lot of times what we do, right?
Say, “Okay, so there’s a big problem out there, and someone needs to do something.
Let’s ask the government to do this.” Christians! My fellow Christians.
We need the government for a lot of things, but we don’t need the government
to take care of the poor. We don’t need the government
to take care of our brothers and sisters. In fact, I just was traveling
with these two women on a pilgrimage, both of them of Hispanic descent and both spoke
English and Spanish really, really well. They both had incredible hearts for the poor
and hearts for immigrants, and so what they would do is, they would use their heart
and their mind to help Spanish-speaking immigrants (who couldn’t speak English) fill out paperwork,
because that’s what they needed. They lived in border states and so they would just
use what they had to help those who needed. Why? If you’re a Christian — this is crazy,
this may get really personal here — if you’re a Christian, realize that a lot of people coming across the border
are also Christians. And if you’re Catholic,
a lot of them are Catholic. We see those who are baptized
as truly our brothers and sisters. In fact, from ancient times of Christianity,
you would see those who are baptized as more fully your sibling,
more fully a brother or sister, than those who were
of biological origin with you. That’s not like a call to, you know,
just cut off your head and say “Oh my heart’s so open that I need to, like…
we just need to let everyone in.” What it is a call to do is say “Okay wait. I need to allow my heart to be opened so I can use my mind even more.” To say “If that’s my brother or sister on the border,
what should I do? What can I do?” To be motivated with your heart
to use your mind to say, “How can we solve this issue?
How can we help our brothers and sisters?” Not to say “Everyone has to come in,” but to say
“How can I help those who are seeking asylum? How can I help those who are seeking a new life,
a livelihood? Because that person is my sibling. I am intensely and personally motivated to make sure
that both my siblings who are here in this country, and my siblings
who are seeking asylum in this country, are treated in God’s image and likeness,
and as a brother or sister in Christ.” Again, it’s super complex issue.
So this is not an answer. But if you’re a Catholic, we need to hold on to
these principles as we try to seek an answer. Again, that’s what I got. Maybe it’s too dumb,
maybe you hate it, I don’t know. I DO care,
but I don’t know. Anyways, from all of us here at Ascension Presents,
my name’s Fr. Mike. *clicks* God bless.

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