“Pope Francis: Caring for the Poor Doesn’t Make You a Communist,” screamed the headline the day before Halloween.  Perhaps not, I thought when I read the story, but why is it that caring for the world’s poor always seems to involve massive national and international programs of wealth transfer that might have been copied directly from the Communist Manifesto?

As it turned out, the newspapers had, as usual, lied.  The Pope actually said something quite different from what was being reported.  Speaking of the needs of the poor, without either gainful employment or a roof over their heads, he added, “It is strange, but if I speak about this some say, ‘The Pope is a Communist.’”  In other words, the admittedly unwary pontiff was doing nothing more dangerous than repeating the message of the Scriptures.

The media’s misrepresentation of the Pope’s remarks should come as no surprise.  The press has been a pack of liars from the beginning.  Imagine the headlines that would have announced Satan’s failed rebellion: Heaven Liberation Army Regroups for Final Assault.  Regime’s Gen. Michael Deploys Weapon of Mass Destruction.  The expulsion of Adam and Eve from the Garden would have been reported on as a fact-finding sabbatical, and the Crucifixion, if it were to have been mentioned, would have been headlined Rebel Leader Killed in Failed Escape Attempt.

Surely the wiser heads in the world’s oldest and most cynical bureaucracy can anticipate the media response to the Pope’s off-the-cuff remarks.  The left has a field day nearly every week, as they report on what sound like papal blessings on communion for remarried divorcés, same-sex marriage, and open immigration.  While the Pope’s lack of political acumen is more than a little to blame for the misreporting in the press, people who take papal pronouncements seriously—and that is a dwindling minority even among Catholics—ought to take the trouble to find out what he has actually said before rushing in to praise his wisdom or condemn his folly.

Although reports on his speeches are headlined by phrases that might have been drafted by Eric Holder, Pope Francis has said relatively little on the question of immigration policy.  He has quite properly condemned the suspicion and fear with which immigrants and refugees are often greeted, in both Italy and the United States, but the call for charity does not actually entail any specific program of amnesty or nonenforcement of immigration law.  On the other hand, it is quite true that his statements, taken out of context and interpreted by Marxists, are a powerful rhetorical weapon in the hands of open-borders leftists who wish to destroy nations, peoples, and religions.

The Church’s official (for the time being) position on immigration is set forth with remarkable ambiguity in the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC):

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.

Only the famous committee that designed the camel when they had intended the horse could have drafted such a statement.  Note first of all that the Catechism, which has been so roundly criticized for excessive documentation, offers no authority for the assertion of the natural right of immigration.  The simple reason, as we shall soon see, is that there is no such tradition.  Still, the authors cover themselves with the equivocal phrase “to the extent they are able.”  Imagine if such an extenuation were placed on asserting other natural rights, as in “Commit no murder, theft, adultery, or slander to the extent you can avoid it.”

A more serious flaw in the statement is the way it has been tacked on to the Fourth Commandment to honor one’s parents.  This commandment, even by implication, has very little to do with any obligation owed to unrelated persons but, as Saint Alphonsus points out, everything to do with the respect owed to parents and, by implication, to those in authority over us, whether as guardians or teachers, masters, or rulers.  This was the approach taken by the Roman Catechism commissioned by the Council of Trent and followed by local catechisms—e.g., the Baltimore Catechism—which extend the reach of the commandment to include the respect and obedience owed to “our lawful superiors.”  Properly applied to immigration, this commandment tells us we have the right and duty to defend our parents, households, villages, and countries against invasion.  If there is a natural right to immigrate (as opposed to emigrate), it is strange that it was only discovered when immigration rights had been put on the leftist agenda.

The authors of the CCC, blowing cool on immigration rights after blowing hot, do concede that immigrants are obliged to respect “the spiritual heritage of the country that receives them.”  Did the Pope consider this clause when he went to island of Lampedusa, on his first papal visit outside of Rome, to demand compassion for the non-European immigrants who have overwhelmed the island and frequently outnumbered the residents?  These immigrants, for the most part Muslims, will—to the extent that they are true to their religion—make war on Sicily’s Christian heritage, even as they inevitably and without even thinking about it plunge Italy into the anarchy, terror, and poverty of the countries they are deserting.

Pope Francis is unquestionably a good man, a saintly man, but his prudence is open to question.  One wonders how he would have responded to the migration of Attila and his gentle Huns.  Pope Leo the Great made his way to Attila’s camp near Mantua and somehow talked the pagan savage out of his plan to sack Rome.  I do not think it is unfair to suppose that Francis would have been less concerned about the fate of the victims of Hunnic aggression than about the food shortages the Huns were suffering or the undoubted fear and hostility they had inspired by razing Aquileia and by slaughtering, looting, and raping so many defenseless Italians.

Even as the war being waged by Islam on Christians and post-Christians has gone into a new and more virulent phase, the Pope continues to speak up for the rights of Islamic immigrants.  And, while Catholic bishops of the Middle East are crying out for protection from ISIS, the Pope’s secretary of state, addressing the United Nations, avoids even the words Islam and Muslim.  As Sandro Magister put it so clearly, “It is a war of religion, and the Pope is silent or stutters.”

Tenderhearted humanitarians often seem to find it easier to sympathize with criminals and illegal immigrants than with ordinary hardworking people who wish to hang on to the fruits of their labor, their homes, and the cultural and moral principles that have made it possible for them to rear their children in comparative comfort.  It is the old story of the rabbits and the hedgehog told in one of Florian’s verse fables.  An ill-tempered hedgehog quarrels with his own people and, claiming to be a refugee from persecution, moves in with a clan of overly generous rabbits.  When the hedgehog begins shooting quills at some of the rabbit children, a father complains, only to be told that the hedgehog cannot repress his nature.  The chief of the rabbits informs the troublemaker that, if he cannot mind his manners, he must either have his quills quipped or go away.

The rabbit president had one great advantage over the President of the United States: Unlike Mr. Obama, the head rabbit knew it was his duty to protect his own people first before worrying about giving protection to strangers.  If one had harbored any doubts about Obama in the past, his diktat on immigration “reform” should have removed them.  Apart from a few weaseling words on border enforcement, which no one will possibly believe because he refuses to protect the border under current law, the President’s only—not just primary—concern is for non-American immigrants.  His duplicity is manifest in virtually every sentence.  He throws down the border and calls it “immigration reform”; he proposes to amnesty five million illegal aliens but claims that “It’s not amnesty.  Amnesty is the immigration system we have today.”

I know the poor fellow is not a native English speaker, but he has been in this country long enough to acquire a dictionary.  If he could not afford one, I feel sure there was a government grant program for children brought up in Indonesia.  Amnesty, as someone ought to explain to him, means an act of deliberate forgetting and, thus, a pardon.  What he wants to do is, sensu stricto, amnesty, while his steadfast refusal to enforce the law is dereliction of duty and, I should say, a violation of his oath of office.  Mr. Obama does not care about any of this, because America is not his country in any sense other than legal.  It does not matter where he was born, but what does matter is his loathing of the European-Americans who made this country and are, for a very short time to come, the majority element in the population.  Obama has met the enemy, and “they is us.”

While an older preacher warned us that there is nothing new under the sun, Pope Francis tells us that “God is not afraid of new things.”  Why is that these “new things” are inevitability the products of the continuing revolution that makes war on the Church and destroys all social institutions?  We have to kiss goodbye thousands of years of Christian, Judaic, and classical thought to rush into the arms of Frantz Fanon and Martin Luther King?  We know as certainly as the people of Ferguson, Missouri, where that line of thinking leads.  Perhaps we should be wiser to find our inspiration in the old-time religion and the old-time way of life that made it possible to bring up children who did not hate their parents.

That old human world of peoples and commonwealths was divided into innumerable cities, tribes, and nations, which were themselves divided into clans, families, sects, brotherhoods, and neighborhoods, each with its own structure of loyalty and obligation.  Though every people and society is distinctive, someone who has read the Iliad, the Pentateuch, and Beowulf will immediately spot common themes like reverence for parents, blood revenge, and the duties of soldiers.  The new posthuman world, which began to be made up by intellectuals in the Enlightenment, minimizes or even eliminates what Jefferson deplored as the “wretched depravity of particular duties,” by reducing them to a few simple rules.  None of these intellectuals was a believing Christian; indeed, most viewed Christianity as the single most powerful source of human misery.  Nonetheless, they picked and chose from among passages that could be twisted to suit their needs, though few went so far as Jefferson, who stitched together his own Bible, eliminating both miracles and passages that offended his moral sense.

Viewing Christianity as the enemy, intellectuals have always felt justified in misrepresenting its teachings, either to make them contemptible or to pervert them to what they saw as good use.  So-called Christian Socialists and social gospelers made it appear that “true” Christianity (as opposed to the bogus Faith of the previous two millennia) would dispense with all distinctions, including national boundaries.  To delegitimize the right of nations to defend their territory, leftists like to quote Paul’s statement that in Christ “There is neither Jew nor Greek,” as if Paul’s intent was not to repress the quarrels that broke out between gentile and Jewish Christians but to obliterate ethnic and cultural boundaries.  The absurdity (and dishonesty) of such an interpretation is made clear in what follows: “There is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.”  Surely, no sane person would argue that Paul, who more than once instructs slaves to obey their masters and runaway slaves to return, condemned slavery per se.  Paul, who has been unfairly stigmatized as a misogynist, can hardly be accused of pursuing a feminist agenda.

Some leftists have pretended that Christians cannot restrict immigration into their country, even if they believe it is harmful to their nation’s security and prosperity.  They cite such statements as “Thou shalt neither vex a stranger nor oppress him: for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt,” but they conveniently ignore the dozens of passages in which aliens are condemned and despised.  If a priest’s daughter married a foreigner, she could not eat the holy food that priests and their families partook of, and later on Solomon took a census of the strangers in Israel and sent them off to do hard labor.

A foreigner who approached the Tabernacle was put to death.  A Jew could charge interest on money loaned to a stranger but not to a Jew, and the Jews’ ethnic first cousins, the Edomites, gained full rights only after three generations of living with the children of Israel.  Like most ancient peoples, the Israelites were intensely chauvinistic and xenophobic.  By their own (exaggerated) account in Joshua and Judges, they exterminated the gentile population of Canaan when they entered the Promised Land, and they were forever quarreling with their neighbors and, more perilously, with the great kingdoms of the Middle East.

The passage of time and the experience of exile did nothing to soften Jewish chauvinism.  Nehemiah tells us that the Israelites returning from the Babylonian Captivity, in what might be understood as an outburst of xenophobia, separated themselves from non-Jews and made a covenant not to intermarry with them.  In light of these and many other passages I might have cited, it is simply disingenuous to argue that the Jews’ undoubted kindness to sojourning strangers constitutes an argument against either defensive war or restrictions on immigration.

The apparent contradiction in the Old Testament’s approach to foreigners is easily resolved by a closer look at the words.  As the Old Testament scholar J.K. Hoffmeier points out in his The Immigration Crisis, the Hebrew language and the law distinguish sharply the sojourning immigrants who have been given permission to stay in the land and generously accorded the protection of the law from foreigners (rendered in Greek as prosyletos, and in Latin as advena) who have not been given this legal status (Greek allogenes, and Latin alienigena).  While the former are treated as potential or real converts to Judaism (as the Greek word proselyte suggests), the latter are unclean.  An alien could not so much as touch the bread being offered to God.

The writings of the New Testament, while they repeat the earlier admonitions to treat proselytes decently, have virtually nothing to say on the subject of either territorial sovereignty or immigration.  The writers assume the backdrop of the Roman Empire, whose rulers and armies are authorized to defend the Greco-Roman world.  When massive and unauthorized immigration did take place from the fourth to the sixth centuries, the Goths, Vandals, and Lombards destroyed the empire and put civilization on hold.

Catholic and Orthodox rulers and their subjects have had no reluctance to defend their commonwealths against pagans and heretics, and, if they had no other piece of Scripture, the story of the Tower of Babel would have informed them that their Creator had established separate peoples and warned them against any attempt to corral all the nations into a world government.  The Reformers were understandably emphatic on the rights of national states, but Thomas Aquinas (Summa Theologiae I-II, Q. 105, Art. 3) is no less explicit in affirming the right of a people to control access to citizenship and approves Aristotle’s requirement that the process of assimilation take generations, not years.  Christians only began to lose their will to defend themselves during the Enlightenment, precisely the period when they began to replace their Christian Faith with the unrealistic moral abstractions of John Locke and Adam Smith, Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Immanuel Kant.  One-worldism is not even a Christian heresy but a post-Christian delusion.

Since at least the 19th century leftist Christians have twisted Scripture and tradition to justify a moral, social, and political revolution that is the opposite of the Christian order, and they have created a society that has systematically denied the responsibilities of parents and inculcated disobedience into children, ridiculed marital fidelity and propagated a conception of marriage that includes the casual union of members of the same sex, denigrated personal responsibility and promoted the notion of collective or state responsibility for material well-being.  In its final phase, this new Christianity offers us the entire world, if we will only bow down and worship its master.  This is the ideology of the modern state.  This is not the flawed political order that Augustine called the “earthly city.”  Its rightful name is the City of Satan.