What if the Vatican Followed Its Own Immigration Rhetoric?

By John Zmirak Published on December 18, 2018

Today a long list of countries signed the Global Pact for Migration. (Thankfully, the U.S. was not among them, thanks to President Trump.) As I wrote last week, it aims to strip from the hands of voters and their elected officials the power to regulate who comes and goes into countries. That is, which people, how many, and of what religion or ideology, will soon attain citizenship and the power to vote. Which people will immediately go on the gravy trains of welfare states, on programs intended for taxpayers going through tough times to rely on in emergencies. Which people will rally in the streets for radical new policies, maybe for “blasphemy” laws protecting the religions they brought in with them by jailing those who critique them.

We’re not yet at the point of hanging critics of Islam in Europe. Soon, though. At the rate we’re going, give us 30 years. In fact, I will die a happy man if the sharia authorities in Brussels or Nuremburg aren’t already hanging Christians for blaspheming Islam, as the government of Pakistan does. I don’t expect to die a happy man.

Really, the Vatican amounts in one sense to a museum, gift shop, and loudmouthed left-wing NGO. Italy totally insulates it from the impact of all the pope’s unsolicited advice and destructive politics. As safe as the kingdom of Narnia, hiding on the other side of a magic wardrobe.

I also wrote last week that Pope Francis’ Vatican strongly endorsed the Global Pact, despite its pro-abortion language. Despite the Church’s official teaching on immigration, which sounds like the GOP 2016 platform.

Keep in mind that the same Vatican cooperates with the totalitarian Chinese government in suppressing churches that don’t obey the Party. That Pope Francis’ official spokesman on social sciences has praised China as a model of Catholic social teaching, compared to the wicked U.S. This despite, you know, the million or so Chinese Uighurs in internment camps, its long-time one-child policy, and and its countless forced abortions.

But Francis and company have taken a strong, principled, Utopian stance against Western countries limiting immigration from poor, Muslim countries.

The Magical Kingdom in Rome

Instead of rehearsing my arguments against this pact, I’ve decided to turn things around. I want the Vatican to sign the Global Compact. And I want the Vatican held to it. In fact I want its churches around the world held to the same standards as its holding countries. At least for a while — maybe long enough to teach the pope some prudence.

In the good old days of the Papal States, you didn’t have popes shoehorning and bowdlerizing Christian doctrine to fit a globalist, Kantian, humanitarian gospel. Right up through the 1850s, the popes ran their own small country, in central Italy. They had to beat down revolutionaries, punish bandits, and guard their borders. In fact, the Vatican had its own executioner right up to 1870 and kept capital punishment for attempts to kill the pope on its law books till 1969.

And guess what you never heard out of the Vatican? Utopian falsifications of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Condemnations of the death penalty. Calls for massive welfare programs as the “right” of every citizen on earth. Demands for open borders.

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When the popes had skin in the game, they didn’t pretend that politics was a game of Chutes and Ladders played by slow-witted Muppets in the magical kingdom of Equestria. But the Vatican City-State today really is such a magical kingdom. It’s a postage stamp statelet, less than 200 acres, stuffed with some of the greatest art on earth. It’s governed as an absolute monarchy, with the pope as its tsar. He isn’t even bound by Canon Law, which he can change at the stroke of a pen.

The pope cannot be removed from office by anything short of a divinely-commissioned meteorite. Nobody votes, except for a new pope. Vatican City grants citizenship more stingily than any place on earth. Kids born in it don’t get birthright citizenship, but cardinals like McCarrick do. Sometimes cardinals like Bernard Law take advantage of that citizenship, to avoid prosecution. The Vatican’s “sovereign immunity” as a country is the only thing preventing massive lawsuits by sex abuse victims from bankrupting the Church. For now.

Really, the Vatican amounts in one sense to a museum, gift shop, and loudmouthed left-wing NGO. Italy totally insulates it from the impact of all the pope’s unsolicited advice and destructive politics. As safe as the kingdom of Narnia, hiding on the other side of a magic wardrobe.

If the Vatican Lived by its Words

What if the Vatican actually walked its talk? What would it mean if the Vatican as a territory were to act as Pope Francis demands that Western nations act?

  • Vatican City would accept as many Islamic refugees as could fit on its territory. It wouldn’t get to decide that. The United Nations would.
  • Those refugees would have to be eligible for citizenship, eventually.
  • Vatican City would have to change its constitution to grant them democratic representation. When refugees became a majority of Vatican citizens, they’d have the right to dispose of its property— to sell off its art collection, for instance, or turn churches into mosques. They could also replace Canon law with sharia, or legalize abortion. That’s what happens when new citizens with different values flood into your country. They change its nature.

Now I’d be heartsick if that happened. The Vatican is a special place with a unique mission. For it to disappear in a sea of grabby Salafi hands, and that art made for the glory of God to vanish into the parlors of Saudi princes … I’d consider that an historic tragedy.

Nations Are Special Too

You know what else is a special place? The United States, to Americans. No other place instantiates our political tradition and culture. It would also be tragic, in a different way, for our nation to vanish.

Another special place? Poland, at least to the Poles. And Hungary to the Hungarians. And Israel to the Jews. Pope John Paul II wrote eloquently in his last book, Memory and Identity, that cultures have a right to exist and be protected. That nations should not be wiped from the map, as Poland once was. Or colonized and dominated by foreigners, as Hitler tried to do to half of Europe. As Muslims did to half of the Mediterranean, and much of India.

For the Vatican to claim that only its sovereignty has meaning and is worth defending would be the height of hypocrisy. It also would be a lie. Nations play their role in God’s Providence, as the mode by which we protect our rights and exist as political animals. What’s true in the sacred arena is true by analogy in the secular. If the U.S. has no right to guard its borders, then neither does the Vatican.

Imagine Treating the Church as Shabbily as Churchmen Treat Our Countries

Now, the humanitarian impact of tiny Vatican City would be minimal. For Francis to really witness to his stance on immigration, he’d have to do much, much more.

  • Use Catholic churches around the world to permanently house immigrants. They could sleep in the pews. There’s lots of space that’s empty for most of the week. On Sundays we could ask them (nicely) to please clear out. But of course we couldn’t force them. That would be using violence against the vulnerable. Fill rectories and convents with military age young men from the Arab world, as Francis wants to go on filling Western cities. (What could go wrong, right?)
  • Eventually, those migrants living in church buildings would gain squatters’ rights. You know, the way migrants gain citizenship in countries. These people would earn some ownership over the church buildings themselves, and at some point could vote to sell them, demolish them, or turn them into mosques. They could also vote to tax the churches’ weekly collections, as migrants-turned-voters can impose taxes on the natives.

For the Vatican to claim that only its sovereignty has meaning and is worth defending would be the height of hypocrisy. It also would be a lie. Nations play their role in God’s Providence, as the mode by which we protect our rights and exist as political animals.

Pope to Asia Bibi: Hang in There!

But don’t despair. Pope Francis has not completely abandoned the principle of national sovereignty. He recently ordered two bishops from the faithful, underground Catholic Church in China to resign. And turn over their dioceses to two Communist apparatchiks appointed by China’s Communist government.

And the Vatican just issued a ringing endorsement of the sovereign decisions of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. Asia Bibi, a Catholic mother threatened with hanging even after acquittal on fake “blasphemy” charges, is now being hunted from house to house by vicious, murderous mobs. She’s seeking refuge for religious persecution. And the Vatican just turned her down. As Church Militant reports:

[Cardinal] Pietro Parolin, the Vatican’s secretary of state, has said that the Vatican is not working to offer asylum to the family. He reportedly explained in November that the Vatican is not engaging in diplomatic activity to try to save Bibi, adding, “It’s an issue inside Pakistan, I hope it can be resolved in the best way.”

Where is the thundering moralism that Pope Francis managed when Donald Trump wanted to build a wall to control human trafficking from Mexico? Where the outrage that drove a Vatican priest at an official Mass to compare the border-hawk Italian Interior Minister to the Antichrist? It’s almost as if immigration were just a weapon to destroy the West, liquidate “bourgeois” society, and avenge the wretched, self-imposed failures of the pope’s native Argentina on countries that made wiser choices.

But that would be to take a cynical view.

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  • Bonshika Jackson

    This is a really terrible analogy, and a “Catholic” should know better than to make it. Unlike the former Papal Satates, Vatican City is not an ordinary nation state: It’s a libertarian anarcho-monarchy whose territory made up entirely of the pope’s personal property. Strictly speaking, there is no such thing as “immigration” to or from Vatican City, anymore than there is such a thing as “immigration” to or from an individual or association’s privately owned property.

    Contrary to the claims made by Zmirak and other nativists, it’s not true that nation posses the authority to arbitrarily determine who may or may not live within their territories. From time immemorial, the natural right to migrate has always been paramount, so long as the migrants in questions have peaceful intentions. Nations do not have the right to restrict migrants on the grounds of bad economics or overwrought hysteria, though nations do have a right to impose reasonable regulations that do not amount to outright bans. (For example, they may establish a first-come, first-serve vetting process, same as they do for people applying for passports.)

    Open borders — not to be confused with “no borders” — was the norm everywhere in the civilized world from antiquity until the 19th century, when left-wing progressivists started inventing immigration restrictions for economic-protectionist and eugenic reasons. Before the language of “natural rights” began to dominate Western moral philosophy, this was put in terms of the duty of host countries to be hospitable; since the sixteenth century, the Salamanca Scholastics (and, following them, Grotius and others) explicated this in terms of the natural right to freedom of movement (so long as the movement in question was for peaceful purposes).

    Back to the Vatican: It’s not an ordinary nation state. All the land is the pope’s privately owned property, and the people who live there are the equivalent of tenants in corporate housing. By contrast, when we talk about “immigration,” what we’re talking about is peaceful people being allowed to move unmolested across and to unowned (but not ungoverned) land. To compare the Vatican to the United States is to compare apples and oranges.

    • Zmirak

      The above is a radically tendentious view of history that reflects its writer’s world view–evidently anarcho-capitalism. “Open borders” throughout history? The collapse of the Roman empire happened when large numbers of people, too large to assimilate, managed to force their way in and overwhelm the natives. The Church ENCOURAGED Christian nations to prevent mass Muslim influxes that would have overturned the political order.
      The difference in the early 20th century is the rise of socialism and the welfare state, and universal voting rights. Suddenly, a large number of people moving in can hijack your country and your savings using “peaceful” means: the government, and its redistribution of property. Tell Europeans that the millions of Muslims now living on THEIR tax money and planning to impose sharia on them someday are “peaceful.” This is what happens when someone lets ideology corrupt his intellect. Sad.

      • Bonshika Jackson

        Literally none of what you wrote is true. Ancient, medieval, and early modern peoples were not nativist or bordertarian degenerates, and they had common sense, so naturally they distinguished between peaceful migration between nations and armed invasions, which the nativists always conflate. There was no ecclesiastical discouragement of Muslim “migration” to medieval Europe, you literally made that up out of thin air. Muslim migration to medieval Western Europe [outside of the Iberian peninsula] wasn’t even a thing, not least because, however widely recognized was the right to migrate/duty of hospitality, there was no correspondingly recognized right to religious liberty.)

        Similarly, the collapse of the Roman Empire had nothing to do with immigration and everything to do poor centralized management of the economy, over-reliance on slave labor, an over-extended military, the move of the capital from Rome to the East, literal armed invasions from barbarian tribes, etc. A state can only get so large (territorially and bureaucratically) before it either radically decentralizes or implodes. Barbarian immigrants to the Empire were actually very well-assimilated. They were proud of their Romanitas and of their (Arian) Christianity.

        No doubt there are bad immigrants, and if instead of demonizing Muslims, Mexicans, and Central Americans with such a broad brush you were focusing on cracking down on the tiny minority who do bad things you’d actually have an authentically Catholic and Christian argument to make here. As it is, you’re simply doing what all bigots do: Selectively highlight stories of “people x behaving badly,” acting as if they represent the majority or even a sizable minority, and advocating collective punishment on the well-behaved majority. The notion that Muslim immigrants to Europe are all or mostly, or even largely, stealth-jihadists slowly imposing sharia on their hosts is simple #FakeNews. It’s not real. This is a figment of right-wing imagination. Most Europeans know this, which is why these anti-immigrant political parties, if they win elections at all, do so by such slim margins (and often only as parts of coalitions).

        As for your concerns over welfare states, socialism, and voting rights: I’ll make only a couple of notes in the interests of brevity: Ethnically homogenous nations are a heck of a lot more welfarist than ethnically diverse ones. Ironically enough, it’s precisely immigration that’s keeping the US from developing into a Western European-type welfare state and is keeping what welfare statism that we do have going, thanks to all the taxes they pay. I myself support a much more limited franchise than presently enjoyed, and that’s a great conversation we could be having if we were not being distracted by right-wing immigrant-bashing. Finally, Latin Americans and Muslims are not uniformly socialist or even reliably socialist-leaning. Most Latin American countries are thriving liberal democracies (for very obvious reasons not as prosperous as the US, but becoming ever-more prosperous) with major center-right and center-left parties, just like the United States, and the continent is currently experiencing its own “red wave.” Most immigrants don’t even vote, but yes, two-thirds of the minority that do vote do tend to vote Democrat, and this is perfectly explicable for reasons other than their being committed socialists: Democrats actively campaign for these votes and talk the language of compassion with these people, while Republicans are out demonizing them and threatening to deport their friends and family members. If a “pro-life” political party threatened to, say, deport Catholics while a radically pro-abortion party actively courted the Catholic vote with promises of respect and protection, Mass-goers would overwhelmingly vote for the pro-aborts, and understandably so.

        I’m not such a liberty-dogmatist that I’m opposed to reasonable regulations, analogous to those we have to undergo when applying for passports, and open borders is not an “anarcho-capitalist” concept. It’s the Western civilizational norm — historically, immigration restrictions were the purview of barbarian nations of the Far East — and is perfectly and traditionally ‘Murican: The United States shared open borders with Mexico and Canada until the late 19th century, and immigration restrictions never crossed the minds of our nation’s founders — the immemorial customary right to immigrate is codified in Magna Carta — Magna Carta! — for example, and one of the colonists’ state grievances against King George III, per the Declaration of Independence was that he had “endeavored to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the laws for naturalization of foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new appropriations of lands.”

        Nativism and bordertarianism are traditionally left-wing commitments. There’s no seriously disputing this.

      • Zmirak what

    • The immigration patterns being discussed are not about peaceful people. They are not about people who wish to become part of another country. They come over fences and under walls; they come illegally, not respecting the host nation in any way. They take, but they do not give. They steal; they rape; they murder.

      There’s a difference between letting in the beneficent and throwing open the doors to gangs.

      You cannot tell the difference, and that is why your call to national suicide is met with resistance.

  • Ray

    Wow. If they did as you say, they could have a real ministry, or something very close to it.

  • Ineverleavecomments

    Zmirak, you are consistently far more charitable towards Catholic bishops than I am. I think if they actually carried out this ‘modest proposal’ type schema, they would be incredibly happy with all of negative consequences, because their God is actually an unreasonable one afterall -(this is something the bishops seem to share with Muslims IMO. why is that?). Finally, you did leave out the rape epidemics in northern Europe, which seemed to be in the news about a year ago, then disappeared. I think the bishops would welcome that sort of thing as a way to encourage a return to modesty in womens’ attire blah blah blah.

    In conclusion, this is a great thought experiment to start a fight with the “socialist for you, capitalism for me”-types, at the Christmas table!

  • tz1

    They could sell citizenship and passports like they used to sell indulgences.
    And not freeze my accounts or cooperate with the IRS or FINCEN and let me launder money. Hey, Mexican Drug Cartels, er, activists, could do a lot.

  • John3in1

    At best, the Pope is a complete hypocrite when he urges other nations to open their borders while keeping the Vatican walls in place. At worst, as John hypothesizes, he’s using immigration to bring down the West. Who does he think enables his “magic kingdom” to exist? Maybe Italy shields the Vatican, but, If it wasn’t for NATO, which means, if it wasn’t for the U.S., Italy would be the prey of Russia or who knows who? So, it’s reasonable to say that the Vatican relies on America to exist. If we go, so does the Vatican, thereby bringing a new dimension to the term “immigrant Church.”

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