Pope gets political, doling out $500,000 for caravans

Like a medieval pope, Pope Francis has decided that machiavellian meddling in global power affairs is a lot funner than merely shepherding the faithful and serving the poor. He's taking a deep dive into politics to enact a particular policy result - in this case, against U.S. interests and rule of law in general, by donating money for more caravan infrastructure.

According to the Washington Examiner:

“In 2018, six migrant caravans entered Mexico, for a total of 75,000 people; the arrival of other groups was announced. All these people were stranded, unable to enter the United States, without a home or livelihood,” read a statement from the Vatican's Peter's Pence Office.

“In this context, Pope Francis donated US $ 500,000 to assist migrants in Mexico. This amount will be distributed among 27 projects in 16 dioceses and among Mexican religious congregations that have asked for help in order to continue providing housing, food and basic necessities to these our brothers and sisters,” the statement read.

His $500,000 donation to aid groups to support migrants from six caravans in Mexico still waiting to be admitted to the U.S. is clearly a bid to affect U.S. laws on immigration, keeping the pressure on President Trump to open the borders. A fresh infusion of cash, of course, keeps the migrants from returning to their homes, which serves this aim. It also creates incentives for more migrants to leave their homes without papers, given that the free housing will now be waiting for them.

It all makes the pope the human smuggler's best friend, given the fact that larger numbers of migrants, including virtually all Guatemalan migrants according to Border Patrol agents, are trafficked into the U.S. by human smugglers. The caravans themselves have been accused by Mexicans of being fronts for human smuggling operations as well. Human smuggling is a $2.3 billion business, according to a recent study cited in a page one article in the San Diego Union-Tribune. So if the pope is beefing up the "conveyor belt" for illegal entry to the U.S., well, as Pope John Paul II once said in a different context: 'cui bono'?

Which is a sad thing. The funds being disbursed, from the Peter's Pence collection, is money placed into a special church basket by trusting parishioners for the pope to disburse to areas where the need is greatest. Many worthy causes have been funded from it and they are not controversial. A look at the Vatican's website on the matter shows that Peter's Pence has been used to help the victims of terrorism rebuild their homes in Bangladesh, to fund hospitals and medical personnel in the Central African Republic, to help the victims of the Greek earthquake on the island of Lesbos, these are all worthy causes. Most donations are made in the $50,000 to $100,000 range according to the website (though many do not say how much was given) but it seems that the $500,000 donation to the Mexican groups to enable potential lawbreakers to realize their desire of breaking into the U.S., or filing false asylum claims, is well out of this category.

What's more, it's been donated with a false rationale -- claim to be helping the poor. The Central Americans who have joined a caravan in hopes of easy entry to the states aren't the poor at all -- studies show that they come from the lower middle classes of their countries, not the poorest of the poor, and have the technology and social media skill to take part in the new organized smuggling operations such as caravans. They're either looking for a better job or more likely, an easier life courtesy of the U.S. taxpayer. We have all seen photos of these caravaners wearing designer clothes, pushing expensive strollers, using cellphones, fighting obesity, leaving huge mounds of garbage, something truly poor people can't do given they have nothing to litter with, and triumphantly waving the Honduran flag as if they were conquering something. Poorest of the poor, hardly. And what we don't see, yet which is obvious enough, is that most have plenty of money for the journey, including for some, money to pay coyotes for the final border break into the U.S.

The hypocrisy piles up when one considers that these supposed poor come from some place - a place the pope has yet to condemn in his sermons as he points the finger at us, places whose democratic governments that supposedly drive people from their homelands. Where's his condemnation of those governments if the problem is what he says it is?

And if these people are so poor and deprived, can he tell us why he didn't donate the money to them in their home countries?

Here's another hypocrisy: If poverty and starvation are something the pope claims he is concerned about, why hasn't the Vatican delivered a $500,000 donation to Venezuela's genuinely impoverished and oppressed people? We are seeing pictures like this coming out of Venezuela now:



It's true the Maduro administration is blocking aid from the U.S., but it has softened up and allowed aid from the International Red Cross and Russia to come in. What's more, dictator Nicolas Maduro has openly sought favor from Pope Francis, which makes acceptance of Vatican aid a very likely prospect. Here's another way: Economist Steve Hanke reports that cryptocurrency can bring aid to the country with no interference from Maduro. The Vatican has a lot of options. Any Venezuelan aid listed for Peter's Pence? Not a dime.

No, this cash is meant to get a political result. It's a bad one, given that the U.S. requires a credible system for rule of law for its democracy to function at all. The pope doesn't seem to understand any of this, despite the rich bed of scholarship throughout the Church that would suggest just that.

His cash to encourage illegal migration is bad stuff, and nakedly political, diminishing his office. With the Vatican now meddling in U.S. internal affairs like Machiavellian popes of old, maybe it's time for President Trump to give it a taste of U.S. sanctions.

 Image credit: Fox News, via shareable YouTube screen shot

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