Catholic Teaching on Immigration Policy and Universal Heathcare?

Does the Church have a stance on recent issues such as Universal Healthcare and the Immigration Policy?

No. The Church has principles that should guide our behavior but she provides no specificity as to how the general objectives - feed the hungry, heal the sick - should be accomplished. The best means of providing health care and dealing with immigration issues are not for the Church to specify; they are problems the laity is charged with resolving.

Ender

You indicate that you are in the U.S. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has extensive documentation of their viewpoints on these issues. Take a look at their website for documents and press releases and other information regarding their political stance.

It should be noted that this is not firm “Church teaching”. Episcopal conferences have no teaching authority and little legislative authority in the Catholic Church, but these documents are the best efforts of the American bishops to convey a cohesive policy regarding the most important local issues affecting us today, so while their pronouncements are definitely not regarded as morally binding, they should certainly be viewed with an attitude of obedience.

For the best view of these issues, you should seek the opinion of your local ordinary and your pastor. They are best equipped to convey Church teaching through the lens of your personal needs.

Here are the USCCB resources on these issues:

[LIST]
*]Immigration
*]Health Care
[/LIST]

Kind of. The Church has called “affordable and accessible health care” (so pretty much universal health care) a human right, and that we should be compassionate toward immigrants. But it hasn’t outlined a set way of achieving that because it’s the laity’s job to do that, not the Church’s. The Church gives principles but not policies.

All Americans should never forget that our governments immigrations laws and policies are based in racism and religious bias…and we should be ashamed of ourselves.
The original immigration laws were inacted in the late 1800’s and denied admission to Asians, mainly Chinese and Japanese. Congress stated that it was to fight “the yellow peril”
After the mass immigration of Jews and Catholics from Eastern Europe and Italy from the 1890’s until WWI, Congress passed new laws restricting immigration from all of Eastern Europe and Italy. These laws remained in effect until the end of WW II. This occured because there was an outcry from New England (Particularly Connecticut and Massechusetts), the Mid-West, and California that the US was being overun with Jews and Catholics! The main effect of these laws was the slaughter of several million Jews in the Holocust who were not only denied entry to the US, but to neighboring countries whose regimes were foced by our government to deny these refugees entry.
A similar thing is happening today! The reasons that we have laws denying Mexicans entry is that 1.) they are racially Amerinds, and 2.) they are Catholic. Their very existance in the US is a threat to the WASPS who reside in California, Nevada, Arizona, and New Mexico-the states who are behind the anti-immigration sentiment.
The fact of the matter is, the Mexicans, like every other immigrant group before them take the lowest level jobs when they first come into our country. They take jobs that no American will take, whatever their racial background is. As an example, go into the kitchen of any restaurant and try to find an American pot or dish washer, or kitchenman!
For those of you who state that the restaurant owners should pay these people more, if they did, the restaurant would not be in business too long, because no one would be able to afford to eat there.
The USA is large enough that we should allow entry to anyone who is not a violent felon and who is smart enough to raise the price of his/her passage, and cut through the red tape in their own country to leave, and has the guts to come here.
It is these people who made the US as vibrant and strong as it is, not the bureaucrats who sit on their fat behinds nor the 3rd or 4th generation spoiled rotten and prejudiced sons and daughters of immigrants who elected them.

There have been Hispanics in this country before this was a country. Anyone who knows an assimilated Hispanic would never have a problem with Hispanic immigration as such.

But one of the things that always needs to be considered is the fact of scarcity. There is not an infinite supply of anything. I personally favor immigration as a general principle, including increased immigration. In my opinion (realizing many would disagree) this country is underpopulated and a greater population would solve a lot of problems.

But in a time of job scarcity, are we justified in, for example, encouraging Mexican immigration when the unemployment rate here is higher than it is in Mexico? True, wages in Mexico are about 1/3 what they are here, but so is the cost of living. Is there some truly compelling moral basis for pushing more contestants for scarce jobs here at this time?

And it’s inaccurate to assert carte blanche that Hispanic immigrants take only the jobs native born Americans “don’t want”. I know a lot of illegals and legals, and most of them have factory jobs that pay decently and have benefits. At least that’s true in this area.

So, why do so many of them come here if it’s easier to get a job in Mexico? It’s the currency difference. If you make three times as much here as you do in Mexico doing the same thing, but don’t spend it here and send it there or eventually save it up and take it with you, you have pushed yourself well past what your peers there will have accomplished. It’s sort of like the oil workers here who go to, say, Kuwait for the big bucks, save them and come back here “ahead of the Joneses”. I see no moral compulsion to think of that in any way other than just getting ahead of your neighbors…morally neutral at best, but morally questionable if jobs here are scarce.

Some time or other, unless Obama, Harry Reid and Co totally destroy the U.S. economy, (and they might) it will recover. If, as was the case during the early part of this century, the unemployment rate is actually “negative” (full employment but with lots of jobs going wanting) then we need to revisit immigration. But right now, it seems to me that increasing it simply increases scarcity.

Oh, and anybody who knows a lot of Mexicans knows they are not all “Amerinds”, certainly not by appearance. Most have some Amerind admixture, but a lot of them don’t show it at all.

A bit of advice. Never, ever call a Mexican an “Indian” or say he/she looks like one. They consider that a major insult.

You have identified exactly what you will find when you review those documents: the “political stance” of the people who wrote them. I am not inclined to take political advice from the USCCB.

It should be noted that this is not firm “Church teaching”. Episcopal conferences have no teaching authority and little legislative authority in the Catholic Church, but these documents are the best efforts of the American bishops to convey a cohesive policy regarding the most important local issues affecting us today, so while their pronouncements are definitely not regarded as morally binding, they should certainly be viewed with an attitude of obedience.

This is incorrect. There is no obligation to assent to the opinions of anyone, including those of the bishops. As you acknowledge, these documents do not represent Church teaching and it is rather regrettable that political policy statements are being presented as if they were in fact doctrines.

Ender

I knew that even if I couched it in the most weaselly terms possible, that someone would be along shortly to belittle and contradict the opinions of the USCCB. I am quite curious as to why this forum is so overwhelmingly opposed to consideration of their documents when they represent the best efforts of the local bishops most involved with these issues to formulate opinions and stances based on Church teaching and political realities and their sacred office as pastors of the local Church.

If the USCCB is commanding us to sin, or contradicting Church teaching in some way, then certainly we should disregard them in such a matter. But I find their pronouncements invaluable to forming my political conscience and interpreting Church teaching in light of the needs of the here-and-now and I will continue to view their opinions with an attitude of obedience.

In overstating your case you miss the point which is simply this: papers emanating from the USCCB are … opinions. They are not doctrines, they don’t represent Church teaching, and Catholics have no moral obligation to accede to them. To disagree with the political opinions they express is not to belittle them.

I am quite curious as to why this forum is so overwhelmingly opposed to consideration of their documents when they represent the best efforts of the local bishops most involved with these issues to formulate opinions and stances based on Church teaching and political realities and their sacred office as pastors of the local Church.

What is the argument that we should take political guidance from the bishops? There is no question of following Church teaching when in fact the Church leaves it to the laity to find the best practical solution to practical problems.

But I find their pronouncements invaluable to forming my political conscience and interpreting Church teaching in light of the needs of the here-and-now and I will continue to view their opinions with an attitude of obedience.

If you find their opinions helpful then by all means accept them but don’t suggest that others who find their opinions misdirected are rejecting Church teaching by rejecting those suggestions. The Church provides the objectives toward which we should work and the guidelines within which we must conform our actions … but she does not specify solutions to political problems and she does not require us to accept the political solutions of others including the bishops.

Ender

Do the Catholic bishops not present their opinions in the light of Church teaching and their pastoral experience and authority as the principal teachers of the faith? Do Americans not owe their obedience to individual bishops as their local ordinaries and pastors of the whole territory which is entrusted to them? Then what makes the episcopal conference particularly worthy of disobedience and disregard of their pronouncements?

If not, then I would ask: who is better equipped to guide us on matters of public policy? Whose opinion should we hold as more important than the local ordinaries of the United States? Who is worthy to contradict the opinions of our pastors, given their authority and guidance?

Yes.

Do Americans not owe their obedience to individual bishops as their local ordinaries and pastors of the whole territory which is entrusted to them?

In matters of faith and morals, yes; in prudential, political matters, no.

Then what makes the episcopal conference particularly worthy of disobedience and disregard of their pronouncements?

Since there is no obligation of obedience there can be no question of disobedience.

If not, then I would ask: who is better equipped to guide us on matters of public policy?

The laity, who is charged with that responsibility and who has acquired the expertise.

Whose opinion should we hold as more important than the local ordinaries of the United States?

The opinions of those who are experts in the relevant fields of economics, politics, immigration, health care, etc. Inasmuch as the bishops are (generally) not experts in these fields their prudential opinions are not compelling.

Who is worthy to contradict the opinions of our pastors, given their authority and guidance?

Pretty much everyone who understands the issues involved. Remember, we are not talking about moral choices but prudential solutions to social problems and that is precisely the province of the laity, not the clergy.*“By issuing policy statements on matters that lie beyond their specific competence, and that pertain rather to experts in secular disciplines, the bishops diminish their own credibility in speaking about matters with which they are specially charged as spiritual leaders of the church.” *(Cardinal Dulles)
Ender

Here is a document on the Church’s position on Immigration:

studentsforafairsociety.org/uploads/1/3/0/5/13050527/estradakeithmichael.sfs.churchandmigration.20120417.pdf

Two things that should be pointed out here: first, this is not a Church document explaining her position but a white paper written by an individual from the Franciscan University. Second, as the writer acknowledges in his first sentence, what the Church presents on immigration are basic principles. There is nothing whatever in any Church document that specifies precisely how immigration problems are to be solved. Those prudential choices are the responsibility of the laity to determine.

Ender

Lord Ender,
It seems that I did not assert that the document was a Church document, however, the document does a fine job of providing basic sources which happen to be Church documents in his research. Also, while the Church does present particular principles, it seems that with those you could deduce, as the Bishops have and continue to do so, which legislation seems more beneficial for the common good and which isn’t - yes to the DREAM act, yes to Obama’s executive order, no to SB1070 and Georgia’s laws etc.

I agree with you to this extent: the bishops have deduced what seems to them to be beneficial. The problem with that is it represents a prudential opinion, not Church doctrine, and as such we are not obligated to agree with it. What I object to is the presentation of opinion based on doctrine as doctrine itself. The Church does not oblige me to support the DREAM act or Obama’s executive order or to oppose SB 1070, which is convenient as I find myself on the opposite side of all of them. You are free to argue that I am mistaken in my positions but you are not free to argue that I have rejected Church teaching in holding them.

Ender

As someone who has just very recently come back to my faith as a catholic, and someone who works in ‘the system’ for a government funded human services agency that provides services to different populations of ‘less fortunate’ people such as those with major mental illness, developmentally disabled, etc here are my views on the matter:

IMO the government sets up people who have difficulties in life on entitlement programs where they are given for free just enough to get by and puts huge disincentives in their path towards possible employment so they stay unemployed and dependent on the government. IMO this generally HURTS them over the long term. In the short term it’s like throwing a life raft to someone drowning in the ocean. In the long term they wind up floating around alone in the ocean in a life raft… They are discouraged from being rehabilitated because they wind up receiving goods and services equal to someone working full time @ about $12.00/hr. And they are given this, entitled to this. If they go get a job their benefits get slashed signficantly so a $10.00/hr job turns into a $2.00/hr job.

And lets not forget that most all low paying job workers held by citizens get free health insurance. Dunkin Donuts, etc…

Now think about 3rd and 4th generation inner city poor welfare recipients. What % of them go onto working full time to support themselves and their families and what % of them wind up doing what their parents and grandparents did, go on welfar or similar?

I know a LOT of illegal immigrants from South America. They pay $15,000 per person to be smuggled here in order to get 2-3 jobs, typically menial labor, to improve their lot in life. That’s like 4 years salary in the country they come from. They go into debt to do it, borrowing from family and friends. They come to a country where they don’t know the language and within a few years they have paid off their debt, have a car, an apartment, and have bought a condo in their own country. They pay taxes. Inflation, the biggest tax of all, one we all pay. Property tax (built into rent), exise tax, sales taxes, income taxes (contrary to popular opinion the overwhelming majority of them actually do pay income taxes taken right out of their paychecks just like any US citizen who works for an employer). I didn’t believe this to be possible prior to becoming friends with a large number of them because I was going off of what I knew: If you want a job you need to show a ss card, a driver’s license, a passport, etc in order to be hired.

Well, lots of places just hire them without those documents. They provide a made up SS Number or the number or someone else’s number. Some of them lie and say they have 3-4 dependents when they have none so the fed and state income taxes taken out of their checks is less, but they pay those taxes. And many don’t lie about it. And none of them file tax returns, because they can’t. So they don’t get refunds if they would be entitled to refunds, based on their income. Acutally since most of them are working 80 hours per week, even though they are working low wage jobs, their overall income falls into higher tax brackets so they wouldn’t get much in the way of returns even if they did file.

Now think of the inner cities, filled with 3rd and 4th generation welfare recipients without any goals for the future or much in the way of opportunity out of poverty given the climate of a 4th generation welfare recipient family, heck, a welfare recipient neighborhood. All of these people are getting free healthcare, free housing, free food, free everything (I’m exaggerating to make a point). And their role models are drug dealers, professional athletes, and professional musicians (good luck becoming one of the latter 2 of the 3).

And the inner city schools? The teachers spend their days correcting bad behavior, not teaching. All those US citizens are destined for a life of poverty that will be paid for by other US citizens. What I would LOVE to see is the widespread hiring of illegal immigrants who came to this country not knowing the language, in significant debt, and managed to purchase their own home within a matter of a few years or so as teachers in those schools. They could teach by example how one can come from dire circumstances, work hard, and own your own home. They could teach them about how they feel greatful to have the opportunity to work full time at 2 different Burger King resturants and how their spouce did the same thing, and how they and their spouce sacrificed further by living in a 2BR apartment with another married couple. How they managed to save up 10’s of thousands of dollars and are now home owners and provide by example living proof that it is possible to raise oneself out of poverty.

All those poor inner city children (for the most part) are not learning that at home and not learning that on the streets and not learning that in school. They could be inspired. They could learn about setting goals and working hard and reaping the rewards. Heck, they could graduate. They could avoid prison and street gangs. I think hard working illegal immigrants would serve as great role models for children who only know about living off of the government (i.e. working people’s taxes).

Sure, the illegal immigrants get free healthcare, but so don’t all of the US citizens who are their co-workers at McDonald’s and Burger King, etc. And the illegal immigrants I know are not out to get stuff from the government, they are interested in jobs. The jobs that welfare recipients (in it’s various forms) are PAID to NOT TAKE.

And if I was younger and I had the opportunity to go to another country, to sneak in illegally, and through working 80hrs/week for 5-10 years and living frugally being able to purchase a few nice houses back in the USA for CASH, as someone who grew up without much opportunity, I would have jumped at the chance!

Correct (i.m.o.) in the sections I pasted. :slight_smile: IOW, the current “system,” with its handouts, its expectations, its lack of expectations, does not in the long run (or often even in the short run) equate to social justice, by the Church’s understanding of that. It creates malady. It creates dependency. It deprives people of dignity. It sustains a kind of quiet desperation which is different from the quiet desperation of the white-collar worker whose identity has become the corporation, in that the institutionally-dependent poor person lives gov’t check to gov’t check (or benefit to benefit) instead of paycheck to paycheck, let alone paycheck to advancement or ownership. It is a different version of “slavery.”

However, I must differ with you on your assessment of illegal immigrants today. In terms of previous condiitions I might have agreed with you to some extent. However, today’s illegal immigrant, though certainly here mostly to work (yes) has also become savvy enough to work the system when needed. And the abrupt transition between Latin American cultures, plural, and the materialism of the U.S., combined with fragmentation of families when one arrives here illegally (and the resulting void in moral guidance), creates significant culture shock for the illegal immigrant (as opposed to the legal immigrant). Add to that, that the cost of living in the U.S., particularly in areas where Latino immigrants prefer to settle, is not at all what it was 30 or more years ago, yet there is an operative mentality on the part of the immigrant that assumes it is.

One of the posters – it might have been Ridgerunner – has talked about this on one or two threads. Wages are better here than what lower-class Latinos can generally earn, but the differential in cost of living now (particularly in housing and transportation) means that it is often more expensive to survive in the States than below the border. Buying a few houses with cash? I don’t think so. Not lately. The illegal Latino immigrants (and I also work in the present tense with this community) who are arriving with the same set of low skills that their counterparts did decades ago, are not doing all that well. For the most part they are stalled in advancement, because all of their time is spent on sheer survival. When they work 3-4 jobs, they have nothing left over to save & buy houses with – not even over 10-20 years’ time. The 3-4 jobs keeps them from eviction and starvation. They have not even enough cash or time to enroll in training programs to advance themselves; nor do the least-skilled & least literate among them have time to take English classes, get a GED, etc. And the parental absence due to employment is breeding ground for involvement in gangs and other antisocial behavior. Definitely not in all cases, but it is surely more prevalent than it was historically. In order to survive today, illegal immigrant parents have to essentially abandon their children. That also opposes Catholic social justice, which is based on the primacy of family.

So, given my own intimate experience with this, I do not favor continued encouragement of illegal immigration as some kind of perverted “social justice.” I believe in the U.S. forming alliances with Latin American governments to encourage the completion of the education of their citizens prior to legal immigration, and to provide various incentives to those gov’ts to do so. That’s a first step. I believe in a very different version of the current DREAM act. I believe in the U.S. taking other initiatives with regard to Latin America which would reward progress made in those countries relative to the government’s encouragement of private enterprise there, instead of the brutal ravaging of entrepreneurship and the middle class due to government pillaging.

But keep in mind that – using Mexico as an example – the people with educations there are doing reasonably well. They are not sneaking across the border. They don’t need to. So I strongly believe that education is the key, and that sovereign countries are responsible for that education. Mexico is fully capable of educating its citizens to be competitive in a 21st century marketplace. True, many in the rural areas choose to/need to drop out of school to help support the family, but that is why Mexico, not the U.S., needs to engage its own education initiative for K-12 education, minimally, and preferably more. Then its citizens will have a choice as to whether to join the Mexican middle class (which most will choose to do), or to emigrate legally to the U.S., with demonstrated job skills which can sustain them more permanently than manual labor can.

The argument is often that we don’t need a full population of fully-educated residents, as a great deal of manual labor will always be needed. However, as the current illegal immigration continues to show, there is a gigantic imbalance in what illegal immigrants are usually prepared to do. Manual labor in the 21st century in the First World is not sustainable forever as an income, and certainly not as a path to advancement. Technology marches on. The ones being left behind are those without a 21st century education.

Elizabeth502,

I am speaking specifically about the group of illegal immigrants I KNOW, those coming from the country of Brazil, not the illegal immigrant population in general. From what I can tell, and I know over 100 of them personally and attend social family oriented parties thrown by them, etc (the friendliest culture I have ever met, much more friendly than the US population in my experience, and much more family oriented and also more invested in religion than the US population in general IMO as well) they are recognized as extremely hard working. I have spoken to different hiring managers about the Brazilians that work for them and consistently hear “the crew of Brazilians are always the first to arrive at the job site”, etc, etc.

Plus, I know a very large group of them PERSONALLY. I am invited into their homes, invited to their churches, invited to their parties, have personal relationships with them so know of their circumstances by first hand knowledge. I am NOT talking about the illegal immigrant population in general. Brazilians do not come here to game the system. Brazilians do not come here to deal drugs or to join gangs. I don’t know of any Brazilian gangs in the USA. I do know of gangs from many other countries both from living in a major US city and working in the human services field and also from TV shows that feature gangs both in and out of prison. There are no Brazilian gangs in the city I live in nor are there any in other surrounding cities that have gangs, both foreign and domestic.

Maybe someone else has watched that TV show ‘gangland’ that features different gangs around the country, or one of those TV shows about prisons and prison gangs. Has anyone ever seen a Brazilian gang based in the USA either inside or outside of prison featured on any TV show?

And while the economy has slummped over the past 4-5 years, making it more difficult for most people living in this country be they citizens, legal immigrants, or illegal immigrants, the Brazilians continue to work extremely hard and continue to be able to save money. Not as easily as they were able to do 10 years ago, but they continue to be able to do so.

The price used to be $10K for someone to be smuggled from Brazil to the USA. In the past few years or a little further back than that the price has risen to $15K. I have yet to meet or know of one single Brazilian illegal immigrant to come here (again, I am speaking of the people I personally know or have personally met through those I personally know and am friends with) who has gotten involved in any gangs, drug trade, or criminal activity (defined as selling drugs, doing drugs, doing robberies such as breaking and entering, etc). And while I would not doubt there is at least 1 such person (likely more than one) in the country from Brazil, this is not what that faction of the illegal immigration group is about. I doubt that it is just that I have happened to meet and befrend a large group of illegal immigrants from a foreign country who all have the same moral character (more or less) and they are the exception to the overall representative illegal Brazilian immigrant. I think it’s reasonable to suspect that the large group I know and am friends with is generally representative of the overall Brazilian illegal immigrant population.

Are you familiar with the sub group of illegal immigrants that come from Brazil to the USA? I will assume that you believe my personal reports of my personal knowledge of the people I speak of to be true and that you do not assume I am making up fabrications unless you tell me different. I am not suggesting that none of them receive any type of government free goods or services. But I am suggesting they would serve as excellent role models for inner city youth. Heck, they have served, and continue to serve, as excellent role models for ME.

And I would rather see them be able to come here and pay a fee for entry into the USA in exchange for a work permit than pay human smugglers $15,000 each. The people I know do not have criminal histories and are not criminals. And I am quite sure that if they had the opportunity to fly to Mexico and present documentation about immunization and documentation about their clean criminal background and then pay, say $8,000 or $10,000 to the USA for a permit to enter and work in the USA they would choose that option over the one where they pay criminal organizations $15,000 to be smuggled here.

With regards to illegal immigration in general: there is NO WAY to stop it. It comes down to the laws of supply and demand, just like with drugs. The prices may fluctuate, but the flow will not stop. And I do not want to be forced to pay for tactics that are set up to supposedly make it stop as it is impossible to stop, just like it is impossible to stop drugs from entering the country.

If you build a fence I am forced to pay for it, and they come via water. If you fine employers who hire them, again, I am forced to pay for it as the employer is not going to drain their childrens college funds to pay the fines. What they will do is raise their prices and pass along the costs to me. Heck, even if you put the person who hires them into prison, I and forced to pay for it. Increase the border guards, again, I pay for it. And if there was a system were unskilled laborers actually had a shot at legally immigrating to this country, such as the way I suggested above, this would cut down on non criminals trying to sneak in by paying human smugglers to help them do so. What this would do is decrease the traffic across the wasteland along the border of illegal immigrants who are coming to the USA to work (I’m sure that Mexican’s would continue to try this option since they are our neighbors and familiar with the territory) thereby making it easier to identify those trying to sneak in as actual criminals connected to the drug trade.

I would much prefer that we collect a substantial fee up front from people coming here to work rather than having those funds go to criminal organizations. I would also like to see a system implemented where there is a healthcare option tied to the work permit that they must pay for as they live here also.

If someone put a gun to my head and made me choose who to ‘deport’ from the USA, Brazilian illegal immigrants or able bodied US citizens who are living 100% on the taxpayers dime, I would choose the latter.

If someone put a gun to my head and made me choose who to ‘deport’ from the USA, either Brazilian illegal immigrants, able bodied US citizens who are living 100% on the taxpayers dime, or US citizen POLITICIANS who back entitlement programs (rather than programs where people are required to provide some type of community service and/or other types of stipulations attached to the provision of goods and services) the politicians would be the one’s I choose.

Also, I do not believe in the concept of a Soverign Nation. I believe in the concept of Soverign Individuals. I do not value any individual who happened to have been born within the boarders of the land referred to as the USA, be they of parents who were also born in the same land or not, any more than I value any individual born in any other land.

I do not believe that people born on one side of a line drawn in the sand are of any more worth than people born on the other side of some other line drawn in the sand. And while I am new to the Catholic Faith it is my guess that the teachings of Jesus would have me view things this way. Of course I could be wrong, as I often am, especially since I am new to the Catholic Faith and have not read the bible in at least 5 years. But from what I remember learning being raised Catholic this is what I suspect Jesus would have my position be with respect to thinking about other human beings.

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