Contemporary Issue: Immigration
The Emigrant's Rights
In our rich reservoir of Catholic Social Teaching, the issue of Immigration was first explicitly and concisely set forth by Pope John XXIII in his encyclical letter, Pacem in Terris:
"When there are just reasons in favor of it, he must be permitted to emigrate to other countries and take up residence there. The fact that he is a citizen of a particular State does not deprive him of membership in the human family, nor of citizenship in that universal society, the common, world-wide fellowship of men." (PIT, 25)
His Holiness asserted the immigrants' right to not only seek a "better life", but also their right to participate in that new society to which they migrate.
"And among man's personal rights we must include his right to enter a country in which he hopes to be able to provide more fittingly for himself and his dependents. It is therefore the duty of State officials to accept such immigrants and—so far as the good of their own community, rightly understood, permits—to further the aims of those who may wish to become members of a new society."(PIT, 106)
Pope Saint John Paul II restated John XXIII's teaching in Laborem Exercens:
"Man has the right to leave his native land for various motives-and also the right to return-in order to seek better conditions of life in another country." (LE, 23)
While he states in this encyclical there may be "various motives" for a person or family to resettle, he also elaborated upon the concept of relocation in search of work and the right of the immigrant to fully participate in the host nation - not only on a social level, but also economically and financially - as an equally valuable member of that society:
"As regards the work relationship, the same criteria should be applied to immigrant workers as to all other workers in the society concerned. The value of work should be measured by the same standard and not according to the difference in nationality, religion or race." (LE, 23)
"The most important thing is that the person working away from his native land, whether as a permanent emigrant or as a seasonal worker, should not be placed at a disadvantage in comparison with the other workers in that society in the matter of working rights. Emigration in search of work must in no way become an opportunity for financial or social exploitation."(LE, 23)
How the Host Nation Should Receive the Immigrant
"We cannot insist too much on the duty of giving foreigners a hospitable reception. It is a duty imposed by human solidarity and by Christian charity, and it is incumbent upon families and educational institutions in the host nations." (PP, 67)
Related Thoughts on Immigration
I invite you to look around at the new things which surround us and in which we find ourselves… (Saint John Paul II, Centesimus Annus, 1991) Taken from "Catholic Social Teaching 101"
.."terrorism represents a fundamental threat to our common humanity." ...At the same time, it should be stressed that to counter the phenomenon of terrorism, achieving cultural understanding among peoples and countries and social justice for all is indispensable. For "whenever adherence to a specific religious tradition gives birth to service that shows conviction, generosity and concern for the whole of society without making distinctions, then there, too, exists an authentic and mature living out of religious freedom." Taken from "Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican Secretary of State, Address to UN Security Council Open Debate on Terrorism"
Putting people always first means protecting, at every stage and in every circumstance, the dignity of the person, and its human rights and fundamental freedoms, and in a specific way, the rights to life and to freedom of religion from which all other rights flow and which are therefore the common foundation of the pillars of peace and security and integral human development. Taken from "Holy See Secretary of Relations with States, Archbishop Paul Gallagher, Address to the 72nd Session of the UN General Assembly"
Related Speakers / Panelists / Authors on: Immigration
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