These are the words of an attendee at a recent workshop on immigration, part of a social ministry fair co-hosted by Catholic Charities and the Archdiocese of Baltimore. The event took place at Seton Keough High School in Baltimore on March 8. The title of the workshop was “Welcoming the Stranger in Frederick County”.
Why Frederick County, Md., specifically? In 2008 Frederick County became the only Maryland jurisdiction to sign on to a federal program that allows local law enforcement to research immigration information. Hundreds of people in the country illegally in Frederick County have been deported since then. The presenter was Lala Mooney, mother of former state Sen. Alex Mooney and a resident of Frederick from 1972 to 1996. Ms. Mooney (née Suarez), a Cuban refugee who fled the oppression of Castro’s regime in 1968, has a master’s degree in community counseling from Hood College in Frederick.
With all due respect, it sounds as though the workshop was another flagrant example of a-intellectualism. Indeed, the attendee quoted above writes of the workshop (in an e-mail to me):
I went to the diocesan social ministry fair and sat in a presentation on immigration. It seemed like a train wreck of emotion on deportations instead of an intelligent discussion of the Catholic Church’s stance on immigration reform. … I couldn’t take it. I felt so out of place. There is clearly a lot of confusion as to how the faithful should approach this issue. The moderator of the session actually said that the Church teaches that U.S. immigration law is an unjust law so we do not have to follow it. I about fell out of my chair. Lord have mercy!
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.
Such perspective did not inform Ms. Mooney’s presentation. Sadly, such perspective does not seem to be informing many Catholic voices nowadays, which, in the name of Christian hospitality, forsake common sense and actual Church teaching that recognizes the common good of the nation and thus the right to control immigration.
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