Stranger in the Land: Catholics and Illegal Aliens

Scripture and Illegal Immigration

In the Book of Exodus, Chapter 22, verse 21, we read, "You shall neither wrong a stranger, nor oppress him: for you were strangers in the land of Egypt" (King James 2000 Bible).

This biblical verse is often used by so-called Roman Catholics as a justification for their support of illegal alien South and Central Americans coming to, and living in, the United States.  These Catholics also use this verse to encourage amnesty for all illegal aliens.  Are these Catholics right to interpret the Book of Exodus this way?

Verse 21 of Exodus is written in the Hebrew Bible this way: "וְגֵר לֹא-תוֹנֶה, וְלֹא תִלְחָצֶנּוּ:  כִּי-גֵרִים הֱיִיתֶם, בְּאֶרֶץ מִצְרָיִם."  The Hebrew word for "stranger" used in this passage is "we-gar," in the plural, and "ge-rim" in the singular.

An accepted translation of the Hebrew "ger" is someone who chooses to immigrate.  The writer of this passage in Exodus is referring to someone who wishes to be part of a new community and who wants to assimilate.  This translation of the word "stranger" does not mean someone who is a soldier in an army of illegal aliens invading the United States.

In the biblical Hebrew of Exodus, the stranger is someone who wishes to be a Jew and will respect the laws of Judaism.  If we want to apply this passage from Exodus to a contemporary immigrant, then the passage tells us we should not harm or mistreat a legal immigrant to the United States who has taken an oath of citizenship.

The meaning of the word "stranger" in this passage from Exodus does not apply to an illegal alien from Mexico who will not respect the laws of the United States or has no desire to assimilate.  It cannot be used to protect an illegal alien invader from deportation or prosecution under the laws of the United States, either.

Paul and Illegal Aliens

In chapter 13 of the apostle Paul's letter to the Romans, the English translation reads, "Let every person be subject to the governing authorities.  For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God" (Romans 13:1-2).

This is advice to Christians to follow the laws of their nation and to respect the laws of other nations.  This is not to say that illegal aliens should be mistreated.  Nevertheless, law-abiding citizens of the United States have every right to make sure their borders are secure and that illegal aliens are removed from their country as quickly and humanely as possible.

There are other ideas implied in Paul's writings that also shed light on the contemporary issue of illegal aliens.  In his letter to Philemon, Paul address the issue of what is to be done about a runaway slave.  Paul sends back the runaway slave, Onesimus, and encourages his master, Philemon, to accept and forgive him.

Although illegal immigrants are not slaves the way Onesimus was a slave, we can see illegal immigrants today as wage slaves, and as persons running away from their moral obligation to improve their own country and not run down ours.  If that is the case, then it is certainly a moral and Christian obligation to encourage illegal aliens to return home and to make life better in their own countries.

Theology and Illegal Aliens

The Catholic theologian Thomas Aquinas held that both subjective intention and objective consequence are necessary in making a moral judgment.  In one of Thomas's examples, while out hunting, it is better to kill your father believing he is a stag than to kill a stag believing it is your father.

From the point of view of the moral theology of Thomas Aquinas, we may judge illegal aliens from both a subjective and objective point of view.  Objectively, illegal aliens are breaking U.S. immigration laws, but do these criminals have a subjective intention that outweighs the objective criminal act?

Is breaking U.S. immigration laws justified because it is the only way poor Mexicans can feed their families, or do illegal aliens who come to the United States have another choice?

Coming to the United States illegally is not the only choice poor Mexicans can make to improve their lives.  They could also choose to stay in Mexico and, with the help of the Church, work to make Mexico a better country.  In fact, as good Christians, it is their moral obligation to do this.  It is better to improve Mexico than to be a criminal in the United States.

Ulterior Motives and Heresy

There are theological and moral reasons why Catholics must not perpetuate sin by supporting illegal aliens who have no desire to assimilate or respect, as a good citizen, a nation’s immigration.  The most obvious reason is that if illegal aliens desired to be good citizens in the first place, then they would not have entered the United States illegally.

To go beyond that, and to use their children as human shields to prevent prosecution or deportation, is yet another example of how illegal aliens are morally corrupt.  If a father steals a car and keeps it long enough, we don’t say that under our laws, it’s legal for the son to drive the car.

We are in the grips of a worldwide heresy similar to the Arian heresy that gripped the Church thousands of years ago.  Perhaps many so-called Catholics are heretics in disguise.  They mistakenly believe that they are right in their sin.  Heresies are not unusual in the long history of the Catholic Church.

There is every reason to believe we are living through the rise of the Babylonian Heresy.  The Babylonian Heresy is to be found among those so-called Catholics who no longer believe in the natural reality of nations.  A Babylonian heretic will knowingly distort scripture to get the political ends he desires, the same way some professed Catholics distort the words of Pope Francis to support same-sex marriage.

Solve Problems Where They Begin

Are there no Catholic Churches in Mexico?  Are these churches not capable of dealing with the problem of illegal immigration at its root, or are the Mexican bishops heretics?  The moral obligation of Mexican bishops is to deal with problems at their front door, yet many would rather send their problems to the United States.

The problem of illegal immigration to the United States must be solved where it begins: in Mexico.  This is what the Catholic principle of subsidiarity requires us to do.  The principle of subsidiarity applied to the problem of illegal aliens in the United States is in line with scripture and Catholic theology.  It is morally wrong to misread a passage in Exodus to justify a selfish interest regarding illegal aliens.

Sending families back to their homes with social and religious support to help them solve their problems at its source should be a government and Church policy.  Unfortunately, this policy is difficult to institute, because heretics have a demonic conviction that they are right – a conviction that many times tramples on the angelic conviction of the orthodox.