Friday, March 19, 2021

New Encyclical Addresses Southern Border and Military Humanitarian Crises

FIRENZE-NUOVA ROMA 19 March 2021 (NRom)

Encyclical “The Southern American Border”


The southern American border is the scene of an ongoing humanitarian crisis about which the United States government habitually seems either unwilling to solve or is completely incapable of solving. Right now large numbers of migrant children are placed in camps and holding facilities that, according to credible reports, are completely insufficient in number and in terms of appropriate and humane conditions. Problems on the border of this nature are not limited by any means to the present American administration. It is inconceivable that the nation that is currently the wealthiest in the world is incapable of maintaining sufficient humanitarian conditions when dealing with migrants, legal or illegal, along the southern border. We, therefore, reiterate that:

1. It is the duty of all nations to provide appropriate and sufficient border control, which is to the benefit of both citizens and residents, as well as those who are immigrating or visiting.

2. It is the duty and absolute moral obligation under God for all governments to treat all persons crossing the border, legally or illegally in a humane manner. This includes providing sufficient, quality holding facilities for migrants seeking admission, as in the current example on the southern American border. If a particular government genuinely lacks the resources to properly care for any given number of immigrants, then it must appropriately limit the availability of immigration opportunities to prevent humanitarian crises from happening. However, governments with such resources are morally bound to provide humanitarian support and take all steps reasonable to prevent humanitarian crises.

3. All border facilities, especially holding facilities and detention centres, must be open to international inspection, particularly by humanitarian organisations, and above all by Holy Mother the Church.

4. It is the duty and absolute moral obligation of all governments not to separate families at border crossings. This includes the right for children to be reunited with their families who have already been granted admission.

5. It is the duty and absolute moral obligation of all governments to provide reasonable pathways to citizenship for children who were brought into a country illegally or for adults who were brought illegally into the country as children when such children are raised in the new country, speak its language, and grow up with in its culture. To deport such persons to the country of their birth when they have been raised effectively as a member of their new country is essentially to force immigration to a foreign country and culture. This becomes especially true when the children in question were entirely or largely unaware of their illegal immigrant status. However, such provisions must be contingent upon a lack of serious criminal behaviour and a clear intent to remain or become a productive members of society.

It must further be noted that the above declarations are not applicable solely to the United States, but equally to all nations in the world. Borders exist to secure peace and tranquility, as well as to provide reasonable security. Yet, they may not be used to justify humanitarian violations, which are an affront to God.

In addition, neither may borders be used as justification of denial of equality of human dignity. If Americans, for example, knew firsthand what it was like to have a war within their own borders, as they did in the past, but which We would not at all wish upon them now, then they surely would better understand the implications and the true costs of their long-term, ongoing military action overseas. Indeed, it is United States military policy to keep military action “over there,” making the citizens of other countries bear the true cost of that action and live in war-torn nations. Just as it is essential under the justice of God that the borders not become scenes of avoidable humanitarian crisis, so to is it essential that borders not be used to separate those who carry out military action and those who must bear the cost. To avoid that responsibility renders the major military powers the self-appointed determiner of human worth, separating the world into those it deems superior and worthy of not suffering from war, though they cause or participate in it, and those it deems inferior and therefore either deserving of the suffering or else are acceptable collateral damage. National interests do not by themselves justify any such policies that avoid responsibility. Indeed, We need only look to the Just War Doctrine of Holy Mother the Church to understand that. No one in a position of government responsibility who claims to be Christian may lay aside their Christian responsibility when making government decisions. Likewise, no citizen of a country who claims to be a Christian may lay aside those Christian principles when determining what government policies to support, either through voting or through moral support.

The responsibility of government is dramatic and grave, and it extends well beyond its borders. Yet it is not to exploit others as so often happens, but rather it is a responsibility to respect human dignity, respect the sovereignty of others, be good members of the global community of nations, and provide aid to those who are suffering, for indeed those on the other side of any border from us all, if we are to call ourselves Christians, our brothers.

Datum Florentiae Novae Romae apud S. Stefani sub sigillo Diaconis die 19 mensis Martii A.D. MMXXI.

Rutherfordus Ap. I