On Immigration, Fr. James Martin Wants to Shame Catholics with Bad Arguments

By John Zmirak Published on January 28, 2017

When I got my Ph.D., my mailman dad knew what he thought of it. “So you got certified at knowing how to Pile it Higher and Deeper.” Having watched English departments like the one where I studied spiral into nasty, politicized dreamworlds, I now know what he meant.

But you needn’t go to a faculty lounge of some leftist secular university to see that happen. You could drop by the Manhattan office of Rev. James Martin, S.J., a celebrity priest who knocks around with Martin Scorsese and appears on MSM news shows, who spends lots of time on Twitter accusing Catholics loyal to the Church’s perennial teachings on sex and marriage of lacking Christian charity.

Forget Unborn Americans. Welcome These (Possibly Dangerous) Strangers.

Fr. Martin’s latest project is de facto open borders and limitless welcome of Muslim “refugees.” In a new article in America magazine, he greets the astonishing support shown by the Trump administration for the March for Life with the back of his hand. Like a skilled magician, he tries to misdirect our attention elsewhere with a long, illogical rant on Trump’s immigration policies. It’s a standard tactic on the Catholic left.

Remember how Chicago Cardinal Blaise Cupich responded to the gut-churning exposé of Planned Parenthood’s profitable business selling the butchered parts of aborted babies: he admitted that this cannibalistic practice was wrong, but insisted that it was no more wrong than … deporting illegal immigrants, allowing citizens handguns, or paring back Obamacare. Seriously — go read the cardinal’s op-ed on the subject. He couldn’t allow Planned Parenthood’s tiny victims even a single news cycle, one short day of commemoration for their crassly profit-driven destruction, without launching into the rest of his Seamless Garment laundry list of reasons-why-we-need-to-grow-the-federal-government.

Do illegal immigrants who use stolen Social Security numbers “obey” American law? Were the refugees who burned a synagogue in Germany honoring the “spiritual” heritage of Europe?

Martin has responded to America’s rejection of pro-choice, leftist, Jesuit-anointed politicians like Tim Kaine and Joseph Biden by accusing the Trump administration of being “un-Christian” in its new immigration policies. Martin must have a Ph.D. in something, because his argumentative technique in this article is indeed to “pile it higher and deeper.” He offers one weak, shrill argument after another, hoping that by the time we begin to see the errors in the first one, we will already be too distracted by the fallacies in the next; and by the end we will simply surrender, exhausted, to his moral dudgeon, his priestly collar, and his piled-up, tottering righteousness.

The Church’s Real Teaching, Forgotten

Now, what does the Catholic church really teach on immigration? There is just one official source for such teaching: the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Approved by Pope John Paul II, it offers clear and principled criteria for public policy. So of course Fr. Martin never mentions it. Here’s the official teaching which binds him as it does every other Catholic:

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. (2241)

That’s it — the whole shebang. We could argue for days about how that set of abstract principles should be most wisely applied in today’s United States. I have argued that the GOP’s 2016 platform, which Donald Trump is now putting into practice, is a prudent and honest attempt to respect both the claims of foreign residents and the common good of Americans.

President Trump’s recent decision to stop preferring members of persecuting Muslim majorities over the religious minorities they persecuted certainly follows Catholic principles. So does his temporary hiatus on accepting refugee claims from people in faraway countries, riven with terrorism and virtually impossible to vet.

Why should the U.S. spend millions of dollars flying pro-Sharia Sunni Muslims past other Sunni Muslim nations that refuse to accept refugees, like Saudi Arabia, and resettle them at great expense on U.S. welfare programs? Wouldn’t it be more humane, cost-effective, and safer to pressure the Turks, the Saudis, the other fabulously wealthy Gulf states, to take in their co-religionists — instead of turning them away and building them mosques in Munich and London?

Remember how the Arab states refused to resettle Palestinians after 1948, instead keeping them in refugee camps as political catspaws against Israel. The sheiks in Riyadh and imams in Cairo are cynically using displaced Muslims from Syria in much the same way now, to colonize Western nations and conquer them for Islam.

As the Catechism itself says, for immigrants to keep the right to enter a country, they owe certain duties. Do illegal immigrants who use stolen Social Security numbers “obey” American law? Do politicized Muslims who demand sharia or practice polygamy in Europe “respect” the heritage of the countries which recklessly accepted them? Were the refugees who burned a synagogue in Germany honoring the “spiritual” heritage of Europe?

Such serious, real-world questions would ignite all the hot air in Fr. Martin’s Hindenburg. So he forbids us to ask them. He misuses scripture quotes, ignores almost 2,000 years of Christians “rendering unto Caesar” the right to secure national borders in defense of the common good, and flouts the very teachings of his own church’s Catechism. He must have thought it pretty important to make us forget the March for Life. It included none of the Jesuit-trained Democratic politicians whom real Catholics have learned to reject.

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  • Paul Burgett

    Well said, Zmirak. Jesus called these people wolves in sheeps’ clothing. We do well to reveal their erroneous arguments poignantly and without malice, as you have done. Keep up the good work!

  • Shaune Scott

    Spot on!

  • Linda

    Wow. Just wow. And not in a good way.

  • Kim Paczewski

    I appreciate your exposing Fr. Martin, his commentary is very disappointing.

  • Wayne Cook

    Completely agree, John. Saw the same thing in South American decades back with Liberation Theology and priests with AK’s in league with several groups of terrorists. I don’t know if this new Catholic left is of the same ilk, but the ones in Latin America were mostly Jesuits who claimed they were above the law.

    • Paul Burgett

      Not the Jesuits!!!! L O L
      Why does the culprit always seem to have SJ after his name…

  • Autrey Windle

    I’m obviously not Catholic and in fact during the Vietnam era I did attend briefly a course of indoctrination called catechism for protestant wives. I had come fresh from a home where my next oldest sister had just entered the mission field with Wyclif. You can probably guess I didn’t see eye to eye with the priest and the ladies left with me and the classes were cancelled. This Fr. Martin may have been the same priest that we were taught by… he sounds about as Godly. I don’t have to ask a pope or a church about the sanctity of life or the right to protect my country from wicked or uninvited people. I know I can’t sit through most Scorsese films without nightmares following and that you will be known by the company you keep. I know quite a few things actually and it really ticks me off when some ungodly “religious authority” keeps getting in front of the camera and spouts ungodly personal ideology while wearing his Godly clothes. I’m with my pastor when he says sometimes he wishes people who publicly call themselves Christian would just take the sign down. Maybe if Fr. Martin would just eat a bug next time he opens his mouth it might save some poor impressionable Catholic person from hearing false doctrine or ridiculous unchristian rhetoric disguised as godly authority. IN JESUS NAME, AMEN

    • James Doyle

      Just because he’s a Priest doesn’t mean he speaks in Jesus name ,or for,The Catholic Church. I suppose you read the article and if you did then you read The Catholics Churches article on Immigration. Or am just being Obtuse.

      • Autrey Windle

        I was under the impression from the beginning of the article that Fr. Martin was a Catholic priest with a rather large audience that listens to him regardless of what mainstream Catholics may be instructed that the church teaches. You may be obtuse or perhaps I wasn’t clear.

  • C. William Russell

    Like the way you threw in Jesuit-trained, those familiar with old school history understand their covert nature.

  • Billy Chickens

    The Muslim world is obviously on hijrah – jihan by emigration. Therefore, clearly Muslims should only be allowed to emigrate to Islamic countries. It’s a no brainer but then we’re dealing with liberals.

  • Howard Rosenbaum

    Theres a reason Hitler, Stalin, Mao & Osama are among the “strangers” to the heavenly kingdom stoking the flames of hell. They just wouldn’t fit in. They would be unable to assimilate in their present incorporeal condition. Their presence would not correspond w/the transcendent harmony that is heaven. God Himself rejects certain “strangers” from His “country”. Not because they’re unloved. Because they cannot receive that love. The “strangers “argument applied in wholesale proportions
    by some of these self enlightened luminaries of social justice need to reconsider. Who was it that said, ” Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven”? God has established the precedent regarding strangers. Jesus ,by implication, affirmed that. We have begun to do likewise. Only a fool would protest otherwise. Shariah affirming Islamist’s insist that we should cast aside both biblical precedent & common sense , when they advocate for open boarders. Those who are philosophically opposed
    to the Islamic system of totalitarian rule , yet support open boarders, are by default supporting the very system which has forced the mass exodus of fleeing “sheep” looking for fresh pastures. Until we can separate the “sheep” from the “goats”
    we must administrate a reasonable system of comprehensive immigration reform. God Himself would do likewise …

  • With regards to Obama, John you’ve already answered the question: “Why should the U.S. spend millions of dollars flying pro-Sharia Sunni Muslims past other Sunni Muslim nations that refuse to accept refugees, like Saudi Arabia, and resettle them at great expense on U.S. welfare programs?”

    As a Muslim sympathizer and supporter (and likely a covert Muslim himself – “you shall know them by their fruit”, not their professions) Obama made clear his actions were to “… colonize Western nations and conquer them for Islam.” Why else give lectures to Christians about getting off their “high horse”? Why else his refusal to help persecuted Christians – in Syria and elsewhere? Why else his last minute stabbing Israel in the back at the security council? Why else his early proclamation that the U.S. isn’t a Christian nation? How else do you explain treating Muslim refugees with more respect and grace than he did our long time friend and ally Israel and her Prime Minister? I can go on and on (nuclear deal, ransoms, etc.) but you get the point. He hid his true allegiance (somewhat) in his early days, but since he could not run for re-election, he stopped hiding his real intentions and goals as the time for his exit from the office approached.

    Billy below is correct – “The Muslim world is obviously on hijrah – jihad by emigration.” And Obama helped them with it.

  • James Doyle

    As a Catholic most of us are fed up with this Apostate Priest he tries to shame us Catholics into his way of thinking. Well Martin why don’t you put your money where your mouth is . Come over to The U.K and take a walk down a Bradford street night or day it won’t be very nice. Seeing that lovely Sharia Law . One of my Priest friends now deceased due to the stress he was under by Muslims in Somali . What happened ,a bunch of these men from The Religion of Peace came into his Church and started to machete his congregation. The only reason he was left alive was because he was white and the nice Muslim men didn’t want it reported and it wasn’t. That was over 15 years ago and of course things where Muslims are concerned have only got worse. Martin if your that fond of Muslims you go and live with them . O and if you do please stay there as a Priest your an embarrassment.

  • sheilakelly

    Oh my! Do any of you even read what Father James Martin writes? He is a disciple of Jesus. He follows His teachings and is true to the teachings of the Catholic faith.

    • samton909

      Yes I read his article and was appalled at its misrepresentation of the whole of Catholic teaching on the subject. Father Martin is a disciple of Jesus, but only so far as the teachings of Jesus align with Democratic party beliefs. As soon as the church departs from those beliefs, Father Martin seems to stop believing in Catholic teaching.

      As the article points out, Father Martin completely ignores clear Catholic teaching when it suits his purposes.

      If you look at his magazine, America, the word “Trump” appears these days far more than any religious word or concept. The magazine is thoroughly locked into liberal causes, not Catholic teaching.

      They recently sold their building, located in one of the richest areas of Manhattan, among the rich and famous. There is even an article at America magazine bragging about how many rich people, famous people and actors come over there to hang out. And how witty and erudite the conversation is.

      He bears no more relation to Jesus Christ than does Nancy Pelosi.

    • Billy Chickens

      Very funny.

    • Yvette Pereira

      Have you read the Catechism of the Catholic Church? This is the problem in America. Ignorance of teachings of the Church and liberal priests running amok on the teachings. Thank God I grew up abroad and our faith formation is not left to warm fuzzy “feelings”.

  • James Martin

    You neglected to mention one other source of church teaching: Jesus. In your entire commentary on church teaching neither his name nor the word “Gospel” is mentioned once. Read Matthew 25.

    • Yvette Pereira

      Jimmy boy, still up to tricks. Deceit is the weapon of your choice. I see you. We are watching you play your game whilst hiding behind a collar, not anymore. You should only mention the name of Jesus in the confessional where you confess to this heresy you spread. Your Catholic bashing is shameful. You claim to be compassionate to “all” except the people that keep you clothed! You continue to embrace same sex marriage like you are even more compassionate than Jesus. You need not worry, we know your little secrets.

    • Billy Chickens

      First – the Catechism mentions the immigrants’ duties to their country of adoption and that they’re “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.”

      Second – when Jesus said to take care of strangers it was yet 650 more years until Islam was invented by Muhammad who was either lying about “Gabriel”, was on drugs and therefore hallucinating, or, as I suspect given that it’s in the Quran, was possessed by Satan who we all know can appear as another angel, given that Satan was one himself.

      Third – given the tenets of Islam, we know that the Islamic world is on a worldwide hijrah, i.e., jihad and conquer by emigration.

      Fourth – we know that once ensconced in a country Muslims begin to force their host countries to pass sharia law

      Fifth – Islam is not compatible with freedom, especially for women (still stoning them in Islamic countries).

      Sixth – etcetcetc.

      Therefore, given the above and countless historical examples for 1400 years and beheadings and burnings of people in cages, rapes, the beheading of the 21 Coptic Christians on the beach, running over crowds of innocent people with a truck in France and Germany, racing into the Bataclan and murdering people (my Catholic pastor’s cousin was murdered in the Bataclan…just hope the cousin wasn’t one of the ones taken to the balcony and tortured and mutilated before being killed) and all the rest of the evil of Islam, we the people of America – where Muslims flew planes into the Twin Towers and where we have seen our citizens murdered (Pulse in Orlando) are sick and tired of people whose only motive is to move here, klll our people, and pass sharia law so that we end up like Europe.

      In Europe today women are afraid to go out at night unless they’re in a large group, there are Muslim no-go zones so dangerous that even the police won’t go there. And we certainly don’t want our women raped by males who arrive all alone with only their iPhones, who collect welfare and complain that it isn’t enough, and rape children in swimming pools.

      Half the American people voted to curb the stream of Muslims coming into our country to do us harm. I’m sure the woman beheaded in an Oklahoma food distribution center by the Muslim man working there who tried to convert everyone to Islam would certainly have voted for President Trump.

      The Good Samaritan did not take the man hurt by robbers into his own home. He made provisions for him in an inn. Jesus tells us through this story that we actually DO NOT HAVE TO invite people into our homes (countries). We have to make sure they are provided for and cared for but since they might prove to be harmful to our families and homes (countries) we are supposed to be WISE AS SERPENTS. Which is something that people who fall all over themselves foolishly explaining how peaceful Islam is never are.

    • bdlaacmm

      And may no Catholic ever forget that Our Lord Himself was once a refugee (Matthew 2:13-15), fleeing from political violence.

      • Mary and Joseph were returning home for a government census. They had every right to be there but arrived late. He returned home (which is not the definition of a refugee).

        • Are you seriously trying to blame governments for carrying out censuses? (The census in question, by the way, wasn’t by Herod, but Augustus Caesar)

          The reference to Mary and Joseph being refugees is actually a reference to them fleeing to Egypt to avoid being killed by Herod, who sought Jesus’ life. This is indeed analogous to political refugees of today. I hope you won’t try to explain that away.

          • How am I trying to explain away Egypt? I am talking about government as the root cause of the problem (Herod is an agent of the “state”). It doesn’t matter if he’s executing the will of Caesar he’s the guy with control of the monopoly on force (those willing to kill little children in this case).

            In the “current year” case. It is the US government that is the threat to life. Look up the drone/bombing campaign that Bush started, Obama perfected and Trump has continued (even in Yemen). Why look to the government to be the solution to its own problem?

          • I can agree with that. But too many people are trying to pretend the Holy Family were refugees from a tyrannical government, so I wrongly thought that might be your argument.

    • Jonk

      Sola Scriptura?

    • Ladirish

      Wow, James Martin actually posting in a venue where he cannot delete comments. I suspect that means he won’t be back to follow up. Dialogue and a culture of encounter that he can’t control are just not his thing.

  • Zeke Clinton

    Why not use the Hungarian plan and help people at home? It’s the story of the good Samaritan. He made generous provision for the injured man where he was but did not move him into his home.

    • French Frankie

      I prayed about the refugee crisis as it hit last year; what should we do? Immediately The Good Samaritan came to mind, and I opened my bible randomly to find myself straight away at the passage. As I read it these things hit me too;
      He puts himself in danger tending to the man’s needs – he doesn’t know him and he could be a robber feigning injury, or robbers ocular be about.
      He doesn’t take him home like you said; so his family who wouldn’t be as physically strong as him and who, as head of the family, has has a duty to protect, wouldn’t be in danger.
      He took him to the innkeeper who, duty to making his living in this way, would have safeguard in place to protect his family.

      The response t the refugee crisis that is most in line with this was developed by Tony Abbot, the former PM of Australia who was ousted having reduced significantly the numbers of boat immigrants to his country. He let it be known anyone arriving by this method I.e. illegally would be taken to an island where they would be safe and would go through the process system. Those who weren’t suitable wouldn’t be let in. Low and behold it worked.

  • Kristin

    It saddens me to read an article pitting Catholics (as well as others) against each other. I don’t believe this is a fair portrait of Fr. Martin. The author has not mentioned Fr. Martin’s support of the March for Life (see his Twitter feed), statements by Pope Francis, or statements by the U.S. Conference of Catholic bishops (though he may not have seen these yet). I hope people will consider looking into what people who have worked with refugees say (maybe CRS or another organization?), and encourage all of us to pray for each other and for wisdom, rather than fighting amongst ourselves.

    • It saddens me to read a comment from an ostensible Catholic so bereft of the skill needed to consider a clearly presented argument. Please go back and read Zmirak’s positions again. Refute them if you can, but we must, as thinking beings, accept facts as they are.

      • Kristin

        Dear Sir (or madam?)
        Thank you for taking the time to respond. I hadn’t intended my original post to be a systematic response to the author’s claims.

        Upon reading the various comments you have made on these forums, I acknowledge that you may not be Catholic yourself. It was wrong of me to presume a basic decency when discussing these issues. Perhaps you do not claim faith in Jesus and the God of Jesus? Cf 1 John 4:20.

        Regarding (just some) of the holes in the article:

        1. Author’s claim: Fr. Martin misuses scripture.
        Evidence? Examples? Does the author have an inside track on the interpretation of scripture?

        2. Author’s claim: Fr. Martin “offers one weak, shrill argument after another.”
        Evidence? Examples?

        3. Author’s claim: “There is just one official source” for the Church teaching on immigration, the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

        False: The teaching of the Church rests with the Pope in union with the bishops (the Magisterium). Again, see Pope Francis’ comments on immigration, Pope John Paul II’s comments on immigration, and the USCCB’s comments on immigration.

        4. Author’s claim: “That’s it, that’s the whole shebang.”
        False. See number 3.

        5. The author uses the Catechism as a club to bash Fr. Martin and other bishops.

        You and he might consider the following from the USCCB:

        For whom is the Catechism intended?
        The Catechism is intended, first of all, for bishops as teachers of the faith and pastors of the Church. They have the first responsibility in catechesis. Through the bishops, the Catechism is addressed to editors of catechisms, priests, catechists and all others responsible for catechesis. It will also be useful reading for all the faithful.

        5. Author’s claim: “President Trump’s recent decision to stop preferring members of persecuting Muslim majorities over the religious minorities they persecuted certainly follows Catholic principles.”

        Which Catholic principles? The author cites none — no supporting documentation whatsoever.

        6 Author’s claim: “The sheiks in Riyadh and imams in Cairo are cynically using displaced Muslims from Syria in much the same way now, to colonize Western nations and conquer them for Islam.”
        Again, no evidence or supporting documents.

        7. Author’s claim: Fr. Martin “must have thought it pretty important to make us forget the March for Life.”
        see my original post.

        • Billy Chickens

          Excuse me. Are YOU a Catholic? If so you must be a liberal one. 1) Does Fr Martin have an inside track on the interpretation of Scripture? 2) Fr Martin’s arguments are always weak because they’re liberal. 3) Hahahaha. You’re joking here, right? I can name dozens of both Bishops AND Cardinals who are definitely not in union with Pope Francis.

  • mr

    Fr martin is a saul alinsky style clergy and is very dishonest in his social justice arguments.Actually he is a false witness to the church and follows his ideology of radical progressivism rather than the church.Fr martin should have been removed years ago and sent to siberia .He cares more for the affection of the radical left than the souls of the homosexual unions that he gets awards from.

  • James

    Nearly all the Muslims I have known in the US are highly educated professionals who like being in America, believe in America, and are theological moderates.

    Why in the would should we deport all the Muslim doctors and engineers? To whom are they a threat?

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