The proof that Pope John Paul II was calling for open borders

It’s not my intention, but a lot of people get seriously annoyed with me for one reason or another. Over the weekend, a reader took me to task for my reference to

the insane dictum of the late pope that to prevent an illegal alien from coming into your country is as grave a sin against life as preventing a human child from coming into the world.

Where, he demanded to know, had John Paul II equated border controls with abortion? After I explained that the pope had lumped immigration restrictions with abortion as parts of the Culture of Death (and I added that clarification to the original blog entry), the reader then insisted that the pope’s statements were limited to the behavior of local parishes in greeting newcomers of a different culture, and did not refer to the laws of nations regarding immigration. He wrote:

Here is what the Pope actually said: “The path to true acceptance of immigrants in their cultural diversity is actually a difficult one, in some cases a real Way of the Cross. That must not discourage us from pursuing the will of God, who wishes to draw all peoples to himself in Christ, through the instrumentality of his Church, the sacrament of the unity of all mankind (cf. Lumen Gentium, 1).”

So you see, when the Pope uses the phrase “through the instrumentality of his Church,” he is talking to Catholics within the context of how they are to treat immigrants they encounter, particularly at church. He is telling them to respect their cultural diversity, don’t shun them because they are different. If you want to disagree with the Pope on this, fine, let the debate begin, but let’s dispense with your nonsense of the Pope calling for a borderless society. One thing I have noticed since we’ve been going back and forth is that you never cite an actual quote from Pope JP2 to support your claim, rather you simply come back with your interpretation of what he said. I have read the papal message. Specifically what sentence, or sentences make you think he is calling for a borderless society?

Since Jim Kalb had written the strongest article on the late pope’s insane (that’s my characterization) statements about immigration, I sent the article to the reader and forwarded the correspondence to Mr. Kalb as well, who wrote back to the reader:

Dear ____:

I wrote the FrontPage article, so it’s of interest to me whether the article interprets the Pope’s remarks correctly.

I don’t agree that the remarks are limited to integrating immigrants into the life of local churches and so aren’t supposed to determine the attitude Catholics are supposed to take toward social policy. That interpretation seems rather un-Catholic, in fact. Catholics have traditionally emphasized the natural law aspects of morality, and emphasized the universality and objectivity of moral law, so it seems artificial to draw any very strong distinction within Catholicism between how Catholics should act among themselves and how people should treat each other generally.

The Pope says, for example that “solidarity does not come easily. It requires training and a turning away from attitudes of closure, which in many societies today have become more subtle and penetrating. To deal with this phenomenon, the Church possesses vast educational and formative resources at all levels. I therefore appeal to parents and teachers to combat racism and xenophobia by inculcating positive attitudes based on Catholic social doctrine.”

Catholic social doctrine has to do with social organization generally, what Catholics should press for in public life, and not simply internal church affairs. I don’t think it’s reasonable to interpret the “many societies” he speaks of here as referring to “many particular churches.” So it seems the attitudes he wants the “vast educational and formative resources [of the Church] at all levels” to oppose are general social attitudes. Do he simply want to oppose their effect within the Church, or does he want to use the vast resources to change them in society itself?

Later, he says “mixed cultural communities offer unique opportunities to deepen the gift of unity with other Christian Churches and ecclesial communities. Many of them in fact have worked within their own communities and with the Catholic Church to form societies in which the cultures of migrants and their special gifts are sincerely appreciated, and in which manifestations of racism, xenophobia, and exaggerated nationalism are prophetically opposed.” Here again the “societies” don’t seem to be particular Churches and ecclesial communities. Otherwise the partnership among Catholics and non-Catholics wouldn’t be to the point. The Baptists don’t work with the Catholics to make the Baptists and Catholics non-discriminatory, they do it to affect society as a whole.

Finally, he says “May Mary our Mother, who also experienced rejection at the very time when she was about to give her Son to the world, help the Church to be the sign and instrument of the unity of cultures and nations in one single family. May she help all of us to witness in our lives to the Incarnation and the constant presence of Christ, who through us wishes to continue in history and in the world his work of liberation from all forms of discrimination, rejection, and marginalization.”

How could an attempt by the “Church to be the sign and instrument of the unity of cultures and nations in one single family” and attempts “to witness in our lives to … the constant presence of Christ, who through us wishes to continue in history and in the world his work of liberation from all forms of discrimination, rejection, and marginalization.” possibly be limited to how the Church acts in its own private affairs, to the extent the Church has private affairs? It seems the Church is to be the sign and instrument of something that has universal effect. “All forms of description, rejection, and marginalization” would seem to include any form of boundary-drawing anywhere, and he says Christ want us to work “in history and in the world,” which include things that happen outside the Church, to do away with such things.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at May 30, 2006 02:03 PM | Send

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