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1. Is there an absolute right to emigrate and immigrate?
The right of immigration exists by natural law, since the Earth as such belongs to all men.
However, legitimately established states also have a natural right to regulate immigration into their territories to defend the common good of their citizens. This not only applies to economic and security matters but also to the spiritual and cultural heritage of these states, including national identity. As the individual good of an immigrant cannot dispense with, or supersede the common good of a particular country’s indigenous inhabitants, then the right to emigrate and immigrate is not an absolute right. This right is conditioned by its social function, namely not putting the common good of a country’s people at risk.
2. Does Malta have a right to protect her borders against “irregular” immigration?
According to the traditional social doctrine of the Catholic Church, as explained by Pope Pius XII, there are two essential conditions that would justify emigration and immigration into a sovereign country. These are: (i) the migrants’ extreme need, and (ii) the host nation’s right to restrict access for the sake of the common good. In his Apostolic Constitution Exsul Familia, Pope Pius XII teaches:
“If any land offers the possibility to host a large number of men, one cannot prohibit, for insufficient reasons and for unjustified causes, access to needy and honest strangers, unless there are reasons relating to the public utility, which need to be considered with the maximum care and conscientiousness.”
Even the document published by the Justitia et Pax Pontifical Commission in 1988 – which is strongly biased in the pro-immigration sense – makes this condition clear:
“It rests naturally with the public authorities who are responsible for the common good, to establish what the proportion of refugees or immigrants that their country is capable of hosting, taking the country’s possibilities for employment and economic growth prospects into account. (….) The State must guarantee that grave situations of social disequilibrium which are accompanied by sociological phenomena of rejection of migrants that can occur with the presence of too large a number of persons of a different culture who are perceived to pose a direct threat to the identity and customs of the local community.”
Consequently, any country can protect its borders against the influx of mass, disordered numbers of immigrants, and this may include closing off of airports and seaports if the common good is perceived by the public authorities to be under threat from immigrant influxes.
3. Is the multiculturalism that results from “regular” and “irregular” immigration beneficial to Christian civilisation in Malta?
Multiculturalism is the theory that justifies the erosion of society that results from the integration of migrants within a state without any assimilation into that society. As a result, the host nation becomes a jumble or accumulation of different ethnicities and communities which are parallel or concurrent to the State. This easily leads to the formation of ghettoes and no-go areas for the local inhabitants.
The host country is made to accept not just individuals but also immigrant communities with their own cultures. As a result, the State invariably must integrate customs, laws and institutions of these communities in its judicial system of values even if they are irreconcilable with the host nation’s cultural, religious and legal structures.
This theory of multiculturalism presumes that the host country must not assimilate migrants according to the existing nation’s cultural values, but must host, protect and even favour values, customs, norms and institutions of the immigrant communities. These values are accepted in an egalitarian manner without any discrimination of any sort in favour of the country’s set of values.
Thus, multiculturalism is based on the error of relativism which asserts that all cultures and religions are equally valid, and should be placed on equal legal terms. While it is true that a state may include a plurality or variety of peoples, ethnicities and races, it must strongly guard against integrating a plurality or variety of cultures.
As Malta is a majority Catholic nation, Maltese Catholics are legitimately entitled to object to, and resist the multiculturalism that arises from mass, disordered influxes of immigrants.
4. Am I obliged to accept Pope Francis’ statements favouring mass immigration to Europe?
In Pope Francis’ speeches, migration and “welcoming” are recurrent topics. The intensity of his pronouncements surpasses by far those of previous popes. In fact, according to Pope Francis, opening the West indiscriminately to immigrants seems to be a non-negotiable principle. Added to this is his insistence on a policy of dialogue with Islam, whatever the cost. This goal appears to be achieved by the Vatican by minimising Islam’s terrorism matrix while showing extreme caution in denouncing the religious nature of the persecution of Christians in Muslim-majority countries.
The Holy See has, under the present pontificate, shifted towards supporting unbridled immigration without any of the cautions taught by previous popes such as Pius XII and John XXIII, the latter stating that emigration/immigration may only be acceptable: “… when there are just reasons for it”.
It is clear that in recent years, Catholic papal pronouncements have presented an imbalanced favouring of migrants which has grown into an exaltation of immigration as such or per se. Under Pope Francis, the imbalance has been exacerbated. In his Message for the 104th World Day of Migrants and Refugees, published on January 14, 2018, Pope Francis affirmed:
“The principle of the centrality of the human person… obliges us to always prioritise personal safety over national security.”
Statements such as this contradict traditional Catholic doctrine, according to which the common good of society prevails over the private good of individuals, even if the individuals are migrants. Pope Francis’ statement is contradictory in itself since, as the Catechism of the Catholic Church makes clear, the common good presupposes that “authority should ensure by morally acceptable means the security of society and its members,” so that the common good “is the basis of the right to legitimate personal and collective defence” (CCC 1909).
One does not have to be a Master of Theology or Ecclesiology to understand that papal authority and infallibility have limits and that the duty of obedience to the Pope and bishops is not absolute across the board. Therefore, Catholics are not morally obliged to accept the present pontifical teachings on immigration if they perceive them as being imbalanced, one-sided and in contradiction to traditional Catholic doctrine.
5. Am I obliged to accept the Maltese bishops’ position favouring mass immigration to Malta?
The positions of the present Archbishop of Malta, Mgr. Charles Scicluna, and the former Bishop of Gozo, Mgr. Mario Grech, are very similar in their tone to those pronouncements concerning mass immigration made by Pope Francis. By over-emphasising “welcoming” and “hosting of migrants” indiscriminately, these Bishops appear to ignore the traditional Catholic stance on immigration, whether “regular” or “irregular”.
On the question of the importation of “regular” immigrant cheap labour by the present Labour government with the consequent depression of wages for Maltese workers in certain sectors of the Maltese economy, the Maltese bishops maintain a mysterious silence, whist being vociferous over other issues related to over-development and ecology.
Additionally, on the crimes and violent acts committed by migrants in Malta, the Metropolitan Curia of Malta and the Curia of Gozo’s relative silence speaks volumes about their ideological position.
In other respects, the Maltese Bishops have never made any references to the common good as conditioning the influxes of “irregular” migrants which reflects the imbalance and one-sided nature of their pronouncements. To this extent, Catholics are not morally obliged to accept unconditionally one-sided and imbalanced pronouncements and teachings.
6. What does the greatest Catholic theologian (St. Thomas Aquinas) teach about immigration?
Saint Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) is considered the greatest doctor of the Church. One has only to look in St. Thomas’ masterpiece, the Summa Theologica, in the First part of the Second Part, question 105, article 3 (I-II, Q. 105, Art. 3). There one finds his analysis based on biblical insights that can add to the national debate.
Saint Thomas affirms that not all immigrants are equal. Every nation has the right to decide which immigrants are beneficial, that is, “peaceful”, to the common good. As a matter of self-defence, the State can reject those criminal elements, traitors, enemies and others who it deems harmful or “hostile” to its citizens.
The second thing he affirms is that the manner of dealing with immigration is determined by law in the cases of both beneficial and “hostile” immigration. The State has the right and duty to apply its law. Saint Thomas also acknowledges the fact that others will want to come to visit or even stay in the land for some time. Such foreigners deserved to be treated with charity, respect and courtesy, which is due to any human of good will. In these cases, the law can and should protect foreigners from being badly treated or molested.
These are some of the thoughts of Saint Thomas Aquinas on the matter of immigration based on biblical principles. It is clear that immigration must have two things in mind: the first is the nation’s unity; and the second is the common good. Immigration should have as its goal integration, not disintegration or segregation.
The immigrant should not only desire to assume the benefits but the responsibilities of joining into the full fellowship of the nation.
7. Are there any Catholic cardinals and bishops opposed to mass, disordered immigration?
Yes, there are. Here is a selection of their most important comments on the immigration crisis being faced by Malta, Europe and the West generally.
- Cardinal Raymond Leo Burke: “To resist large-scale Muslim immigration in my judgment is to be responsible,” Cardinal Burke said, responding to a written question. Islam “believes itself to be destined to rule the world,” he said. “You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to see what has happened in Europe,” the cardinal said, citing the large Muslim immigrant populations in France, Germany and Italy (America Magazine).
- Cardinal Robert Sarah: Cardinal Robert Sarah has affirmed a nation’s right to distinguish between refugees and economic migrants. According to Polish newsmagazine wPolityce.pl and other Polish publications, the African cardinal supported Poland’s resistance to a certain “logic” of migration that outside forces are trying to impose on the nation. “In what manner is it possible to remove the rights of the nation to distinguish between a political or religious refugee, who must flee from his homeland, and the economic migrant, who wants to change his address without adapting himself, identifying with, and accepting the culture of the country in which he will live?” Sarah asked.
“Even more so, how is this possible, if this migrant is of another religion and culture and serves as a pretext for the relativisation of the absolute value which is the common good of the nation?” (LifeSiteNews)
- Mgr. Henryk Hoser, Retired Bishop of Warsava-Praga (Poland): In September, 2015, Mgr. Hoser declared that with unbridled Muslim immigration to Europe: “Christians would be forced to become the minority as they are already in the Middle East” (The Tablet).
- Mgr. László Kiss-Rigó, Bishop of Szeged-Csanad (Hungary): In 2015, Mgr. Kiss-Rigo referred to the arrival of masses of Muslim immigrants as an “invasion”. He said: “They are not refugees. They come here with cries of ‘Allahu Akbar.’ They want to take over” (The Tablet).
- Mgr. Athanasius Schneider, Auxiliary Bishop of Astana (Kazakhstan): Bishop Athanasius Schneider of Kazakhstan, told an interviewer from Milan’s Il Giornale in June 2018 that “the phenomenon of so-called “immigration” represents an orchestrated and long-prepared plan by international powers to radically change the Christian and national identities of the European peoples”. The Church, he said, was being exploited.
“These powers use the Church’s enormous moral potential and her structures to more effectively achieve their anti-Christian and anti-European goal,” he stated. “To this end they are abusing the true concept of humanism and even the Christian commandment of charity.” (LifeSiteNews)
8. Should the children of migrants born in Malta be automatically entitled to Maltese citizenship?
According to Saint Thomas Aquinas (see question 6):
“Thirdly, when any foreigners wished to be admitted entirely to their fellowship and mode of worship. With regard to these a certain order was observed. For they were not at once admitted to citizenship: just as it was law with some nations that no one was deemed a citizen except after two or three generations, as the Philosopher says.” (Polit. iii, 1)
Saint Thomas recognises that there will be those who will want to stay and become citizens of the lands they visit. However, he sets as the first condition for acceptance a desire to integrate fully into what would today be considered the culture and life of the nation. A second condition is that the granting of citizenship would not be immediate. The integration process takes time. People need to adapt themselves to the nation. He quotes the philosopher Aristotle as saying this process was once deemed to take two or three generations. Saint Thomas himself does not give a time frame for this integration, but he does admit that it can take a long time.
As Aquinas observes:
“The reason for this was that if foreigners were allowed to meddle with the affairs of a nation as soon as they settled down in its midst, many dangers might occur, since the foreigners not yet having the common good firmly at heart might attempt something hurtful to the people.”
9. What is the doctrine of “Prima Sibi Caritas”? How does it apply to immigration issues?
“Prima Sibi Caritas” is a Catholic principle which states that by Divine Commandment, the expression of charity primarily is to be directed to oneself, to one’s family, to one’s country and above all to Christian Civilisation. This primary and ordered love of oneself produces as a natural and necessary extension, the love of one’s neighbour. As is well known, the evangelical precept of loving one’s neighbour as oneself teaches that one’s “neighbour” is not so much that person who is close to us physically or geographically but rather that person with whom we have forged a link in terms of obligations of duty, consanguinity or affinity.
Our neighbour is above all he whose well-being – both natural and supernatural – depends on our actions. This duty is not restricted to spiritual life but also extends to moral and civil existence.
As a rule, only those who conserve the plenitude of their own possessions may provide for the benefit of others, both in the temporal and in the spiritual spheres. Thus, it is not possible to give what one does not have, and this applies equally in terms of today’s society. If Europe, and by implication Malta, by betraying its historical mission, rejects the values of Christian Civilisation (a gift of Divine Providence), it cannot propagate such values thereby benefiting other nations which are less fortunate or whose societies are less civil.
Any charity towards immigrants – “regular” or “irregular” – which does not account for, and to the necessary degree, the requirements of Malta’s national identity, her religious traditions and her centuries-old ethnic and cultural identity, reflects an unnatural and disordered disdain for Malta as a host nation and for what she has represented. As a result, the immigration propagandists would like to impose a new commandment: “Love your culturally distant neighbour at the expense of yourself and of your immediate neighbour”.
10. Our Lord was once a refugee. Do we reject Christ by rejecting the refugees of today?
This argument is often bandied about by clerics and lay Catholics alike. It is true that the Holy Family was forced to flee to Egypt in order to seek refuge from Herod’s murderous rampage, but beyond the initial flight, there are virtually no parallels between this event and the migrant crisis of today.
Firstly, there is ample evidence to suggest that most of the immigrants seeking to enter Europe are not in fact refugees fleeing war or persecution, but rather economic migrants who often journey across several safe countries to reach the more prosperous European nations. Our Blessed Mother and St Joseph, on the other hand, fled to the nearest safe country, which – like Judaea – also happened to be a Roman province at the time, so it also bears mentioning that no laws were broken.
Secondly, they returned to their homeland once the danger had subsided. In contrast, many of the irregular immigrants in our midst have no intention of going back, and this can have a considerable impact on the host’s ethnic and cultural landscape. Finally, we can safely assume that Jesus, Mary, and Joseph were exemplary guests and were by no means an undue burden on their host.
The argument starts to look rather disingenuous when these differences are deliberately glossed over, and clerics ought to know better than to twist the Gospel, even if their intentions are ultimately good.