Wednesday, October 08, 2014
I was reading Tim Stanley writing about the Clacton by-election, I was struck by his comments on immigration. I hope both immigration and emigration are are discussed by the Synod, I am sure both issues are close to the Pope's heart, both touch on Catholic social teaching, both go back to the ancient stories of the Bible. The ancient creed of Israel begins, 'My father was a wandering Aramean, and he went down into Egypt with a few people and lived there...'.
One of our present day truths is that without immigration Europe will collapse. I welcome the kind generous support I see from Filipinos and eastern Europeans who work in our geriatric wards and nursing homes, most have faith and their faith brings a humanity to what can be a barren environment. More than half of those who come to Mass here are Polish immigrants and there is a large proportion of Slovakians and of the Europeans as well. If ever we implement 'devolution max' and Brighton becomes a city-state I suspect we will be be a Muslim controlled city, rather than a Gay city, as most of the immigrants are from the middle east, not a few are Coptic Christians, and we beginning to see Syrians and the other victims of ISIS beginning to arrive. I am pleased that Brighton Voices In Exile, operates out of my house and uses our parish premises. Incidentally they need money!
Am I pro-immigration? Well I am pro-immigrant but every story of immigration is also one of emigration, of the break up of families, of the search for work and in many cases the age old search for food and peace. One of the consequences in Europe of contraception is that we simply aren't reproducing ourselves, we are dependent on immigration. An Italian or Spanish child will inevitably end up by having to pay taxes to support at least six elderly relatives: his two parents and his two grandparents children, if he doesn't someone else will, often the immigrant who is willing to take the job he is unable or unwilling to take. Immigrants are a comparatively flexible workforce, having left their homeland they are willing to move to wherever work can be found. If they are poor enough or desperate enough, they have left spouses and children behind, like so many Filipino immigrants, in order to send money home. Here, often is another story of broken families, or at least of families without mother and father.
One of the other factors about an immigrant workforce is that we can choose the best from those educated in the first place by a struggling societies, we can harvest a third world country for their graduates and leave without. I remember being told that in one African country there were less than 20 psychiatric professional, at funeral a few days later, I met several working in this country for the NHS. Obviously here they had the facilities to work effectively, and here they received the training they wanted and needed but there is sense in which we mine the third world and poorer European countries for the brightest and best educated, as some multi-national corporation might mine them for bauxite or iron ore, consequently these countries are left the poorer.
Catholic social teaching reminds us that we are our brother's keeper, that our common humanity is actually more important than our national borders, that we have a duty to come to the aid of all our brothers and sisters. The bodies of those floating in the sea off of Lampedusa or immigrants flooding into Southern Europe is something that has to be dealt with. National governments might well be tempted to increase border security or to deal harshly with immigrants in order to discourage others but the Christian response has always been to improve the environment from which they come, to educate, to deepen justice, to strengthen the family. Document like Populorum Progressio or Gaudium et Spes, though in some senses problematic and often treated with contempt by those of a certain political hue nevertheless are an authentic part of the Church's Magisterium.
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