News & Politics

Pope Says Migrant Rights Trump National Security

Pope Francis Consistory for the creation of five new cardinals, Vatican City, Rome, Italy - 28 Jun 2017 (Rex Features via AP Images)

Pope Francis said the following in a message ahead of the Roman Catholic Church’s World Day of Migrants and Refugees: “The principle of the centrality of the human person … obliges us to always prioritize personal safety over national security.”

Francis, who has made the cause of refugees and immigrants a major focus of the Catholic Church, said, “Solidarity must be concretely expressed at every stage of the migratory experience – from departure through journey to arrival and return.”


Calling for “broader options for migrants and refugees to enter destination countries safely and legally,” he said the human rights and dignity of all migrants had to be respected regardless of their legal status.

“The principle of the centrality of the human person … obliges us to always prioritize personal safety over national security,” he said.

This appeared to be a reference to fears voiced in many European countries that refugees inflows could lead to security problems in their host countries. He said it was necessary “to ensure that agents in charge of border control are properly trained.”

He called for “alternative solutions to detention” for illegal immigrants and said “collective and arbitrary expulsions of migrants and refugees are not suitable solutions”.

How to accomplish this? The pope doesn’t say. I suppose his optimum solution would be to throw open the border and let anyone in who wants to come in. The immigrants would be met by hordes of bureaucrats who would help the new arrivals fill out reams of paperwork so they can get immediate government aid and be resettled in an orderly fashion.

I support this idea — as long as the Vatican does exactly the same thing. When the pope opens the gates of Vatican City and sets up housing for tens of thousands of refugees in St. Peter’s Square, we should follow his charitable example immediately.

Francis’s message immediately drew the ire of the right-wing Northern League party in Italy because it implicitly supported a controversial law proposal that would grant citizenship to children who are born in Italy of immigrant parents.

“The universal right to a nationality should be recognized and duly certified for all children at birth,” the pope said.

Northern League leader Matteo Salvini responded: “If he wants to apply it in his state, the Vatican, he can go right ahead.”

Mr. Salvini knows as well as we do it will never happen. That’s what makes this pope so annoying. He is constantly lecturing western democracies as if the church was still supreme and held sway over the nations.

The pope lives in a peaceful enclave in Rome surrounded by some of the most awe-inspiring artwork ever produced by the hands of man. Meanwhile, the world outside of the Vatican gates is mean, brutal, chaotic, violent, and full of people who are anything but saints. If the rest of the world looked like Vatican City, his policy prescriptions would be laudatory.

But since it doesn’t, we can safely ignore this annoying man and continue to try and get by as best we can, implementing policies consistent with our own values and national interests.