HAVE YOU EVER TRIED TO REASON WITH A PERSON WHILE THEY ARE CRYING? IT IS ALMOST IMPOSSIBLE. WHEN TEARS FLOW THE BRAIN SHUTS DOWN AND THE ‘HEART’ TAKES OVER.

Jorge Salcedo/Shutterstock

Rod Dreher

THE AMERICAN CONSERVATIVE

How The Church Discusses Migration

This morning at the Faith Angle Forum, we’re talking about faith and immigration. The speakers are Sister Norma Pimentel, director of Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley, and Dr. Mark Amstutz, a Wheaton College political scientist.

Sister Norma began by telling heart-rending stories about caring for migrants coming across the US-Mexico border. Their human plight, in her telling, was quite moving.

Dr. Amstutz, by contrast, gave an argument. His basic point was that the all states have to have defensible borders. Protecting human rights and achieving justice depends on a strong, benevolent state. In the immigration debate, he said, these things have to be taken into consideration. Whatever the state decides what to do on immigration has to be done in an orderly, legal way — because this order serves the common good.

In listening to this exchange, I’m struck by the role of emotivism in this discussion. Sister Norma is clearly a compassionate woman, and has a very big heart for these desperate people. On the other hand, to me it seems that she is trying to help migrants violate the law. That’s an uncharitable way to put it, and I keep trying to find a more charitable way to look at it, but the more she explains her position, the harder it is for me to see it in any other way. Her view seems to be that her role as a Christian is to get as many of these migrants into the US as possible — this, as a matter of compassion.

Again, by contrast, Prof. Amstutz is trying to take a more comprehensive view. He described his own view as a “communitarian” perspective — one that tries to balance the wishes of the migrants with the wishes of US citizens. Amstutz said “communitarian” perspective has been discarded by “religious elites”.

One of the journalists present said that after hearing Sister Norma’s account of life at the border, he wondered why he wasn’t there at the border helping her, and why all “decent” — his word — people aren’t doing the same. That struck me as a telling moment, one that showed what a disadvantage people like Prof. Amstutz are when talking about these kinds of issues. As a political scientist, he is trying to bring a philosophical framework to discussing and analyzing immigration. He’s well-spoken, don’t get me wrong, but it’s discouraging to observe how hard it is to have a clear, rational discussion about this issue (and not just immigration).

A journalist asked the two presenters how we determine how many migrants we are to allow into the country. Sister Norma responded by saying that she was speaking to a group of kindergarten students at a Catholic school, and asked them what they thought we should do about all the migrants at the border who are fleeing terrible conditions at home.

The children said, “Let them in,” the nun said. She added, “I don’t know that Jesus would leave anybody out.”

And that was it. This is not thinking. This is emoting — and it is emoting just as much as the kind of rhetoric that Trump uses when he discusses immigration. Sister Norma is a vastly more genial person than many of the anti-immigrant hotheads are. But it’s still substituting emotion and sloganeering for hard thought about difficult questions.

 

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About abyssum

I am a retired Roman Catholic Bishop, Bishop Emeritus of Corpus Christi, Texas
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4 Responses to HAVE YOU EVER TRIED TO REASON WITH A PERSON WHILE THEY ARE CRYING? IT IS ALMOST IMPOSSIBLE. WHEN TEARS FLOW THE BRAIN SHUTS DOWN AND THE ‘HEART’ TAKES OVER.

  1. glmcreations says:

    If you think the Democrats are trying to seize the moral high ground because 1. They are truly in reality holier than republicans; 2. They really do want to live Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount; 3. Want to enforce everyone living that Sermon via imposing their morality on all of us via legislation; and 4. They act only out of these and no other motives . . please read the Palmieri Memo. The democrats are either pure amoral power people, tools of demons, Alinsky Rulers, or all of these. Guy McClung, Texas

    Jan 10, 2018 … The memo was co-authored by former Clinton communicationsdirector Jennifer Palmieri. (AP, File). A memo co-authored by former Clinton communications director Jennifer Palmieri, obtained by The Daily Caller, admits the Democratic Party needs to protect illegal

    Jan 8, 2018 … CAP Action’s memo says protecting DACA is not only a “moral imperative” for Democrats, it also key to getting votes. “The fight to protect Dreamers is not only a moral imperative, it is also a critical component of the Democratic Party’s future electoral success,” reads Palmieri’s memo, obtained by The Daily …
    Jan 11, 2018 … According to the memo sent to Democrats, which is co-authored by former Hillary Clinton official Jennifer Palmieri, the Democratic Party is relying on a DACA amnesty deal — that President Trump seems more open to now than ever before — in order to ensure future wins in Congressional and presidential …

    Jan 9, 2018 … Memo penned by Jennifer Palmieri suggests Democrats might shut down the government over DACA in order to get votes from immigrants.

    Jan 12, 2018 … In the memo, Palmieri blames Trump for trying to enforce U.S. law by deporting immigrants who remain in the country illegally, and she is witnessed playing the rac

  2. abyssum says:

    Terri,

    The Church has worked with its counterpart in the sending countries in the past and is now. I know because I was Chairman of the NCCB Committee on Migration and Refugees for many years back in the 1980’s and 90’s. The sad reality is that, to cite just one factor, Hollywood movies seen in other countries portray America as El Dorado; who, influenced by materialism would not want to get rich in El Dorado and enjoy the lifestyle portrayed in the movies we export to the Third World?

  3. Terri Bradley says:

    Here’s a thought……Why isn’t the Church working with the countries that are fleeing their homeland to encourage changes so that they can actually STAY IN THEIR OWN HOME??? These people are desperate to the point of leaving their own homeland. Does anyone really think this is what they really WANT to do?

  4. Sheepdog094 says:

    That’s all I hear about from the USCCB. No courage to help us for pro life causes, only equating pro-life with Social Justice.
    ENDTIMES!!!!!

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