Pope John Paul II, again:
I wrote in 1989: “Often, flourishing Christian communities started out as small colonies of migrants which, under the leadership of a priest, met in humble buildings to hear the Word of God and to beg him for courage to face the trials and sacrifices of their difficult life” (Message for World Migration Day, n. 2, Insegnamenti XII, 2. p. 491; L’Osservatore Romano English edition, 30 October, 1989, p. 8). Many peoples came to know Christ through migrants who arrived from the lands evangelized in ancient times.
Today the trend in migratory movement has been as it were inverted. It is non-Christians, increasingly numerous, who go to countries with a Christian tradition in search of work and better living conditions, and they frequently do so as illegal immigrants and refugees. This causes complex problems which are not easy to solve. For her part, the Church, like the Good Samaritan, feels it her duty to be close to the illegal immigrant and refugee, contemporary icon of the despoiled traveler, beaten and abandoned on side of the road to Jericho (cf. Lk 10:30). She goes towards him, pouring “on his wounds the oil of consolation and the wine of hope” (Roman Missal, Common Preface VII), feeling herself called to be a living sign of Christ, who came that all might have life in abundance (cf. Jn 10:10).
In this way she acts in the spirit of Christ and follows in his steps, at the same time attending to the proclamation of the Good News and to solidarity towards others, elements which are intimately united in the Church’s activity.
Please do not tell me that John Paul II just did not get it, that he was somehow out of touch with the pastoral reality in countries receiving refugees. He lived through World War II, he lived through the occupation of his homeland by both the Nazis and the Communists, through times of great want and danger. He knows all about choosing what to render to Caesar and what to render to God.