In remarks to Scalabrini missionaries at the Vatican this week, Pope Francis said that nations around the world should welcome immigrants through their borders, for no nation was built by anything other than migrants travelling to a new land for a better life. Nations, he said, “are built by migrants, just as migrants built Europe.” It is the latest pro-immigrant sentiment from the pontiff, who has been harshly criticized by conservative Catholics for using his platform to endorse policies that are less about the Bible and more about Francis’s political leanings.
“Europe was not just born like that,” Francis said Monday. “Europe was made by many waves of migrants over the centuries.”
The Pope told the gathered missionaries that migrants preferred to huddle in groups like the “caravan traveling from Honduras to the United States.” This allowed the migrants to form their own “communities” to help them make the journey more safely.
“I am the son of migrants,” he said, “and I remember in the post-war period — I was a boy of 10 or 12 years — when, where my father worked, Poles began to arrive to work, all migrants, and I remember how well they were received.
“Argentina has this experience of welcoming, because there was work and it was also needed,” he continued. “And Argentina, from my experience, is a cocktail of migratory waves.”
Francis then quoted from the Bible to assure the missionaries that he was only passing along the Word of God.
“I am very struck by God’s Word,” he said. “Already in the Old Testament it underscored this, welcoming the stranger: ‘Remember that you too were once a stranger.’”
We’re not here to question the Pope’s grasp of theology or to doubt the Catholic belief in the pontiff’s religious infallibility. But no man, Catholic or not, can believe that everything out of Francis’s mouth is the inspired Word of God, especially when he strays from Biblical teachings. The curse of religion throughout history is that leaders have called upon the holy texts to say…well, whatever they want it to say. And it seems that Francis has done more than his fair share of this since becoming Pope.
No matter. Nations are going to do as they must to protect cultures that, while they may be ultimately traced back to “migrants” (colonialists, conquerors, what-have-you), were certainly not forged strong by simply throwing open their borders and letting any old riff-raff into their countries. This isn’t about being afraid of change, which will come to the U.S. just as it always has. This is about doing what every strong nation has done since the beginning of time: Enforcing a system of laws and protecting our sovereignty.