Struggling to accept Church hierarchy, given ther approval of unrestricted migration


(This is my first post on here in several years, and under a new name. I’m glad to be back).

The more I see Pope Francis and the majority of bishops advocate unrestricted migration, the harder i find it to listen to them as a moral authority.

One does not need to be a sociologist to see that the migrant crisis has been a disaster for the West. Paris, London, San Francisco, Rome… these once-beautiful cities look more and more like Calcutta. What’s more, there has been little evidence that any of the migrants from Africa or the Middle East have any intention of assimilating.

Even one bishop, Raffaele Nogaro of Italy, said he would “turn all churches into mosques to save migrants”. Excuse me? The salvation of souls , which comes through Christ in His Holy Catholic Church is less important than earthly salvation from destitution? This is not compassion. This is not kindness. This is suicide.

I’m not some white nationalist, nor do I have anything against welcoming immigrants in principle. But the willingness on the part of the clergy to sacrifice our faith, our Pearl of Greatest Price, to the idols of diversity and social approval, makes me feel like a stranger, an impostor. I don’t feel like the clergy cares about me.

By contrast, bishops from countries that have suffered violence for their faith, such as Cardinal Sarah or Bishop Athanasius Schneider, have spoken up and said that the Word of God is being abused to promote open borders Schneider even says it is a scheme to dissolve Christian identity in the West.

I know this sound like the older brother of the Prodigal Son, but that doesn’t answer my question. If the shepherds leave the 99 to find the one, the 99 should have a reason to think they have not abandoned them forever.


Immigration policy is an area of prudential judgment that we are free to have varying opinions on. It’s not really that big of a moral question. There are some moral implications in how we deal with migrants, but the question of what is the best method of immigration control has no real moral aspect to it.

We are free to disagree with the bishops and pope on the subject without being heterodox, and no matter how forcefully they may take a particular stance, it doesn’t make it a universal Church teaching or make it carry the weight of moral authority.

Now, we should listen to them because they might have some good points, but as I said, we are free to disagree.

(For the record, I’m with you. I think open borders are an atrocious idea, and I’m growing increasingly annoyed by my bishops’ focus on this topic instead of on the various moral topics that need more attention)

  1. I’m not sure I see how caring for migrants means the bishops and pastors do not care about you. As Christians, as pastors, we seek out to help the vulnerable first.

  2. I’m not sure any bishop is advocating for “unrestricted” migration. At the bottom level, we should all agree that migrants must be treated with compassion and charity — and this is behind a lot of the recent US talk regarding the separation of kids from parents, for example. But who is asking for unrestricted immigration??


According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church (1867):

The catechetical tradition also recalls that there are “sins that cry to heaven”:

Among this set of grave social sins in our sacred tradition is “The cry of the foreigner, the widow, and the orphan”, the OT biblical references for which is commonly given as:

Exodus 22:21–24

21 “Do not mistreat a foreigner or oppress him, for you were foreigners in Egypt. 22 “Do not take advantage of a widow or an orphan. 23If you do and they cry out to me, I will certainly hear their cry. 24My anger will be aroused

And the NT reference, of course, being Luke’s Parable of the Good Samaritan:

Jesus answered, "A certain man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who both stripped him and beat him, and departed, leaving him half dead. By chance a certain priest was going down that way. When he saw him, he passed by on the other side. In the same way a Levite also, when he came to the place, and saw him, passed by on the other side.

But a certain Samaritan, as he travelled, came where he was. When he saw him, he was moved with compassion, came to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. He set him on his own animal, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. On the next day, when he departed, he took out two denarii, and gave them to the host, and said to him, ‘Take care of him. Whatever you spend beyond that, I will repay you when I return.’ Now which of these three do you think seemed to be a neighbour to him who fell among the robbers?"

He said, "He who showed mercy on him."

Then Jesus said to him, "Go and do likewise."

— Luke 10:30–37, World English Bible

A nice summation of Catholic doctrine on this was made by Pope Pius XII in 1952:


Apostolic Constitution of Pius XII, dated August 1, 1952.

You know indeed how preoccupied we have been and with what anxiety we have followed those who have been forced by revolutions in their own countries, or by unemployment or hunger to leave their homes and live in foreign lands.

The natural law itself, no less than devotion to humanity, urges that ways of migration be opened to these people. For the Creator of the universe made all good things primarily for the good of all. Since land everywhere offers the possibility of supporting a large number of people, the sovereignty of the State, although it must be respected, cannot be exaggerated to the point that access to this land is, for inadequate or unjustified reasons, denied to needy and decent people from other nations, provided of course, that the public wealth, considered very carefully, does not forbid this.


And also:





“A shameful wound of our time”

From this some key points:

"…(1) Protection of refugees is a duty and responsibility for the Christian

Protection is not a simple concession made to the refugee: he is not an object of assistance, but rather a subject of rights and duties. Each country has the responsibility to respect the rights of refugees and assure that they are respected as much as the rights of its own citizens…Any person in danger who appears at a frontier has a right to protection. Indifference constitutes a sin of omission.

(2) The immediate needs of the refugee transcends the interests of the State and even national security in deference to the dignity of the refugee as a human person:

The problem of refugees must be confronted at its roots, that is, at the level of the very causes of exile. The first point of reference should not be the interests of the State, or national security but the human person, so that the need to live in community, a basic requirement of the very nature of human beings, will be safeguarded…While moments of economic recession can make the imposition of certain limits on reception understandable, respect for the fundamental right of asylum can never be denied when life is seriously threatened in one’s homeland…"

(3) National interest should not be the overriding concern:

Despite an increased awareness of interdependence among peoples and nations, some States, guided by their own ideologies and particular interests, arbitrarily determine the criteria for the application of international obligations…

However, numerous people within various nations are taking firm position against selfish attitudes and the adoption of policies of restrictionism, and who are committed to sensitizing public opinion in favor of the protection of the rights of all and of the value of hospitality…

Such an attitude facilitates the search for common solutions and undercuts the validity of certain positions, sometimes put forward, that would limit acceptance and the granting of the right of asylum to the sole criterion of national interest…"​


So, to summarize church teaching on this: the principles of the natural law dictate that due to the “unity of all mankind, which exists in law and in fact, individuals do not feel themselves isolated units, like grains of sand” and for which reason “the nations are not destined to break the unity of the human race, but rather to enrich and embellish it by the sharing of their own peculiar gifts and by that reciprocal interchange of goods” (Pope Pius XII), meaning that “the natural law itself, no less than devotion to humanity”, urges that “ways of migration be opened to people forced by revolutions in their own countries, or by unemployment or hunger to leave their homes and live in foreign lands” (Pius XII) because “the sovereignty of the State cannot be exaggerated to the point that access to this land is, for inadequate or unjustified reasons, denied to needy and decent people from other nations” (Pius XII).

We must do nothing that might “injure the relations between peoples, for it breaks the unity of supranational society” (Pius XII) since, “the human race is bound together by reciprocal ties, moral and juridical, into a great commonwealth directed to the good of all nations and ruled by special laws which protect its unity and promote its prosperity” (Pius XII)


And yet, when acceptance of the stranger is forced upon an unwilling population that has seen the out-group’s tendencies toward violence, it leads to anti-immigrant populists movements, like those in Poland, Italy, Hungary, etc (which, by the way, are some of the most active Catholic nations in Europe).

Those papal encyclicals rub me the wrong way. It is essentially telling the host country, “you do not have the right to exist. If your history and way of life is threatened, you may not defend it.” Forced charity only makes people bitter. It is essentially a choice between going to Hell and committing suicide.


Yeah basically. Bishops and priests can give their opinions on this but it’s not something that the Church has a specific teaching on.


The bishops (and the popes who wrote those encyclicals) aren’t forcing us to be charitable in any real sense, though. Like all the shepherds of the Church since Jesus Himself, they are reminding us of our moral obligations to other people. The Magisterium is well within its authority to say how it thinks people and nations ought to act.

Further, at least in the US under Trump, the moral danger we’re being pushed toward is far more distrust and dehumanization of “the other,” in the name of a twisted notion of cultural purity, as opposed to sacrifice of our “history and way of life” in the process of helping others.


I thought that there was a specific teaching on this, at least from Holy Scripture. St. Paul said that God “made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward Him and find Him.”
What is your reading of this except that God has determined specific boundaries of where the people of each nation should live? Should a Christian follow the word of God and observe the boundaries of nations, or is it better for a Christian to disregard the boundaries of dwelling places determined by God and to work for a global community with open boundaries?
Acts 17.


Immigration is what you find tough about the hierarchy?



When taken in combination with the earlier quoted passage about treatment of the stranger and the foreigner, though, even if God has in some sense fixed the boundaries of “the nations,” there is no evil in individual people or groups moving back and forth across boundaries, or even becoming citizens of other nations.

I don’t know about you, but I live in the United States. If we take God’s supposed determination of national boundaries as of the first century to be forever binding, my whole country shouldn’t exist, much less be having a debate about who counts as American enough to live here…


Question–I assume that you live in the United States. You’re OK with hundreds, even thousands of immigrants moving into your town or city? You will be there to help them?

Back in the 1980s, our church (Protestant) in North Carolina teamed up with two other churches (1 Catholic, another Protestant) to welcome approximately 60 people from the Dega nation of Viet Nam (formerly known as the Montagnards, they were aliies of the U.S. during the Viet Nam war). Our church sponsored around 20 of the Dega people.

I was a young mother (2 little ones under age three) at the time, and I and my church lady friends spent 8 hours a day for at least two weeks preparing for the people. My husband and I took in a family of four that stayed with us for a couple of months–it was a exhausating work for us–very rewarding, but very tiring.

Most of the people in our church eventually stopped doing any work other than chipping in money. One man kept it all up–he was a saint, IMO! His own 3 children were teens and very busy with their after-school activities. He would spend every evening with the refugees, taking them to job interviews and helping them get ready for the interviews, taking them to other classes, helping them get drivers’ licenses, helping with their English–the number of hours he put in was staggering.

Within a year, all of our refugees had jobs and were able to support themselves comfortably. The man that stayed with us managed to land an apprenticeship with a plumber, and within a few years, he was making more money that we were!

So yes, it all turned out well, but whew! It was a LOT of work.

Are you OK with all that work? If so, God bless you. If not…who will do it?


True. So what does this passage actually mean?


I think I’d be annoyed if tens of thousands of foreigners marched into my country, gained automatic unemployment benefits, caused the crime rate to increase, then gradually outnumbered Christians by sheer volume of Muslims.

This why the Gospel is fine until we are really tested. Maybe it is how we interpret it?


Some of the leaders of the Church are making a mistake taking strong political stands that many will not accept. Because they are losing much moral authority with many Catholics.
Many people in the U.S. strongly disagree with some of the things they say, and I expect that many of them are stopping to listen to what they say. I say this with great sadness, because I greatly repeat the leaders of the Church. They are shooting themselves in the foot.


I think the fact that you are struggling is a good sign. Obedience to the Gospels and to the Church can be difficult and uncomfortable. It’s not for the faint of heart. My more liberal friends feel the Church is backward, out of touch, and cruel. My conservative friends want the Holy Father to toe their party line. On any given sunday, a homily in a Catholic Church might be expected to ruffle the feathers of parishioners of any and all political persuasions. Catholic social teaching crosses all political and demographic lines.

Jesus couldn’t be clearer in the Gospels when it comes to welcoming the stranger, the vulnerable, the broken. The Holy Spirit guides the Church in teaching on this matter, and we must listen to our shepherds. It takes humility and a willingness to accept that I do not have all the answers. I trust the Church that God has given me. I follow her guidance, even when that is difficult to do.


Welcome back!

Here are some of the Pope’s words.
This is what he says in his own words.

saying the Church “must encourage countries to coordinate more suitable and effective responses to the challenges posed by issues of migration.”

The pontiff was speaking to the Plenary Council of the International Catholic Migration Commission, which is meeting in the Vatican.

Francis praised the organization for responding to the “inhumane living conditions” experienced by millions of migrants and refugees around the world.

“It is my hope that this work will continue to inspire local churches to do all they can for persons forced to leave their home countries and who, all too often, become victims of dishonesty, violence and abuse of every sort,” he said.

_In this regard, I wish to reaffirm that “our shared response may be articulated by four verbs: to welcome, to protect, to promote and to integrate”.[_

And he explains it further here:

This is the situation: nearly one person displaced every two seconds.

Take your time to read his own words and the situation ,if you want.
There may nothing " unrestricted" the Church is encouraging.
The situation is already chaotic per se: 65 million displaced persons.

And one more thing. There is a lot of successful integration that goes quietly and low profile but very positive. Only that is doesn t make it to front pages. But it is good news!


You are mixing regional internal politics with a global religion.

Not a great idea


I remember hearing that there might be valid reasons for a country to not allow migrants such as war and disease. I will go and find out more tomorrow.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit