The Catholic Commentator’s editorial of July 25 calls on Catholics to reject the term “illegal” immigrants as well as to accept all new, child immigrants as a “moral obligation.” Those who don’t accept this are merely debating “ideologies.” This brings to mind Pope Benedict’s encyclical Caritas in Veritate where he taught, “Only in truth does charity shine forth, only in truth can charity be authentically lived… Without truth, charity degenerates into sentimentality.”

St. John Paul II taught on World Migration Day, “Illegal immigration should be prevented…” Note he uses the term illegal immigrant. Is he denigrating these migrants? Of course not. Saying that a person has acted against the law does not deny their humanity. But it does highlight the injustice of illegal immigration in that it violates the right of the state to set reasonable limits on migration as the church teaches. It also does injustice to those who have followed the law to come here legally. And a vast number do follow the law. The United States accepts one million immigrants legally each year. That is more than the rest of the world combined. To say that the United States is not generous in its immigration policy is patently false.

In the same message, St. John Paul II also gave this truth, “When no solution is foreseen, these same institutions should direct those they are helping, perhaps also providing them with material assistance, either to seek acceptance in other countries, or to return to their own country.” When it is determined to be reasonable, illegal immigrants can be sent elsewhere – even back to their homeland.

The problem with the editorial ultimately is summarized, again, by Caritas in Veritate, “Without truth, charity degenerates into sentimentality. Love becomes an empty shell, to be filled in an arbitrary way.” Catholics then, in good faith, can have reasoned solutions to the immigration problem that differ from what The Catholic Commentator proposes.

Steven Felix