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Arnold Ahlert / September 28, 2015

Problematic Papal Politicking

Francis’ apparent hypocrisy on immigration is worrisome.

Of the hypocrisy that is an integral part of progressive ideology, perhaps the most annoying aspect is the “do as I say, not as I do” variety of self-righteous puffery. Thus, a former vice president grown rich lecturing the rest of us about our carbon footprint often flies on private jets, rides around in Lincoln Town Cars and has a house that consumes 20 times the national average of electricity usage. The leading Democrat Party presidential candidate maintains a socialist/populist pose of railing against the rich, even as Wall Street yearns for her to win the Oval Office and she rakes in speaking fees of as much as $325,000. Unfortunately, Pope Francis, who has chosen to thrust himself into some very un-pope-like parts of the political arena, must be taken to task for the same affliction, specifically for his take on immigration.

While Francis apologized for “pleading my own case,” he nonetheless exhorted Catholic bishops in the United States to embrace the massive influx of Hispanics into America during an address last Wednesday at Saint Matthew’s Cathedral. “Perhaps you will be challenged by their diversity,” he said. “But know that they also possess resources meant to be shared. So do not be afraid to welcome them.”

When he addressed a joint session of Congress on Thursday, he offered a similar take, further implying America has a unique responsibility in that regard. “On this continent, too, thousands of persons are led to travel north in search of a better life,” he said. “Is this not what we want for our own children?” One sentence later his agenda became far more transparent: “We must not be taken aback by their numbers, but rather view them as persons, seeing their faces and listening to their stories, trying to respond as best we can to their situation.”

That is a profoundly Christian view individuals must heed, but it requires nuance and adjustment when applied to national policy.

Americans are taken aback by the free-for-all at our southern border and, frankly, what they want and what the Catholic Church wants are hardly in alignment. While many Americans have been cowed into silence by the political Left and its media enablers who label any resistance to the fundamental transformation of America into a polyglot of statist-loving sub-groups as xenophobic or nativist, there is little doubt they believe America should prioritize the interests of Americans.

The priorities of the American Catholic Church are another matter altogether. There has been a precipitous decline in America’s Christian population, with Catholics and mainline Protestants taking the biggest hit over the last seven years, according to a Pew Research Center survey. And while the Conference on Catholic Bishops seemingly recognizes a right for a country to maintain its territorial integrity, they ultimately insist that “the first principle of Catholic social teaching regarding immigrants is that people have the right to migrate to sustain their lives and the lives of their families,” and that the “native does not have superior rights over the immigrant.” In 2013 the Church announced a coordinated effort aimed at pushing Congress to embrace the pro-amnesty agenda known as “comprehensive immigration reform,” even as it was revealed Hispanics have become the Church’s largest demographic group.

In other words, despite all the pieties, practicality explains the Church’s motivation: More Hispanic immigrants, legal or illegal, equals more Catholics sitting in Church pews on Sunday.

The immigrants’ motivation to move northward is primarily economic — as in away from the basket cases in Central and South America to the so-called land of plenty. Ironically, Pope Francis embraces the Marxist-influenced, anti-capitalist ideas emanating from the “liberation theology” that gained popularity in the ‘70s, especially in the pope’s home country of Argentina. “And he carried that into the Vatican,” explains columnist Charles Krauthammer. “So, it’s completely understandable that he would complete and repeat and amplify the anti-capitalist message.” Krauthammer further notes that “if you adopt liberation theology economics, the ones who suffer most, as in Argentina, are the poor.”

Thus, whether Pope Francis realizes it or not, he is taking a typically leftist position of embracing a disastrous idea that creates a big problem, while calling for a “solution” that creates an even bigger problem. In other words, if Latin American countries embraced genuine free market capitalism and an affinity for Rule of Law, the need to “travel north in search of a better life” would become moot. And while the pope may be sanguine about the current influx levels, a Senate report reveals the sobering details: America already has 10 million more foreign-born citizens than the entire European Union, and more immigrants admitted than all 21 Latin American and 27 EU nations combined.

Which brings us to the “do as I say not as I do” part of the equation regarding the pope’s current “country,” more familiarly known as Vatican City. As The Washington Times indelicately reveals, while the Vatican welcomes millions of visitors on an annual basis, “only a very select few, who meet strict criteria” are admitted as citizens. According to a 2012 Library of Congress report, such citizens include church cardinals, the pope’s diplomats around the world, and those with job-related citizenship, such as the Swiss Guard and maintenance workers. The Times notes that Francis has responded to criticism from Italian leaders who bristle at the pope’s call for immigration leniency with “a vow that the Vatican itself would take in a couple of refugee families” [emphasis added].

Two refugee families is a symbolic commitment. Amnesty for 11 million illegals is not. Furthermore, while the pope advocates for what is essentially a borderless world, the massive walls that surround the Vatican remind us that no one is immune from leftist double-standards. Double standards that extend to championing the huge financial burdens that accrue for nations tasked with absorbing millions of migrants, even as the vast and largely inestimable wealth of the Catholic Church will never be sold off to mitigate those burdens.

New York Post columnist Michael Goodwin calls Pope Francis “an inspiring example for all mankind” — politics aside. That idea was put a far better way more than 2,000 years ago. “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s,” said Jesus Christ. Amen to that.

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