The Catholic Establishment and Illegal Immigration

Matt Abbott | June 22, 2018 | 10:14am EDT
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I admit to not having a passionate view on the immigration issue. I do think there needs to be reform, but I'm no Ann Coulter when it comes to the problem of illegal immigration.

That said, it bothers me to see the left, including many in the Catholic establishment, demonize the Trump administration – yes, yes, I do realize the left will always find a reason, no matter how dubious, to demonize President Trump – for the situation involving the children of illegal immigrants being temporarily separated from their parents. (On June 20, the president signed an executive order reportedly ending this practice.)

It all boils down to the morality of illegal immigration.

According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church (no. 2241):

“The more prosperous nations are obliged, to the extent they are able, to welcome the foreigner in search of the security and the means of livelihood which he cannot find in his country of origin. Public authorities should see to it that the natural right is respected that places a guest under the protection of those who receive him.

“Political authorities, for the sake of the common good for which they are responsible, may make the exercise of the right to immigrate subject to various juridical conditions, especially with regard to the immigrants' duties toward their country of adoption. Immigrants are obliged to respect with gratitude the material and spiritual heritage of the country that receives them, to obey its laws and to assist in carrying civic burdens.”


Thus, it's not accurate to assert or insinuate that Catholic teaching requires the promotion of "open borders" and immigration-on-demand. But if you listen to some in the Catholic establishment, you might come away thinking that it does.

Who comprises the Catholic establishment? Here in the United States: many bishops, priests, religious and lay chancery bureaucrats.

The Catholic establishment is well-connected to liberal politicians. Members of the Catholic establishment often get cushy jobs in various dioceses. The Catholic establishment largely protects the "lavender mafia" that comprises a significant portion of the clergy. And the vast majority of the Catholic establishment almost certainly voted for Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012, and Hillary Clinton in 2016, despite the candidates' rabid support of abortion-on-demand.

In other words, liberal Democrat first, Catholic a distant second.

In an email to me, Father Frank Pavone, national director of Priests for Life – and a supporter of President Trump – hits the proverbial nail on the head:

“The radical Left, crystallized in the Democrat party, still doesn't understand how they lost the 2016 elections, and the constant demonizing of President Trump, and everything he thinks, says and does, is simply the playing out of mental distress that they don't know how to handle....

“The hypocrisy of the radical Left is on full display in their weeping and gnashing of teeth over the fate of the children and families of migrants. They start by being judgmental of the President, as if he doesn't care about children and families, and continue by throwing concern for the laws of our nation out the window.

“Then the hypocrites cry about children. Every day I look for their tears over the 3000 children being ripped limb by limb out of the wombs of their mothers by abortion in legal clinics across the country that the Democrat party wants us to pay for, and I listen for a cry of complaint about that, but hear only silence.

“So I have no patience for these people's concern about children being separated from their families.”

No doubt many in the Catholic establishment are seething at President Trump for his stance on illegal immigration – including, it seems, Pope Francis. (Not that Ann Coulter is too thrilled with the president, either. Oh, well.)

At least conservative Catholics like me can take solace in the pope recently comparing abortion to Nazi eugenics and reiterating Catholic teaching that "the only real families are those based on marriage between a man and a woman."

I give credit where credit is due.

Matt C. Abbott is a Catholic commentator with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication, Media and Theatre from Northeastern Illinois University. He can be reached at

Editor's Note: A version of this piece was originally published by the American Thinker.

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