The Corner

Pope Francis’s ‘Shameful and Culpable Silence’

The immigration comments in Pope Francis’s speech were largely predictable, mostly the usual feel-good stuff (at least he didn’t say “comprehensive immigration reform”!). But I was struck by this:

On this continent, too, thousands of persons are led to travel north in search of a better life for themselves and for their loved ones, in search of greater opportunities. Is this not what we want for our own children? We must not be taken aback by their numbers, but rather view them as persons, seeing their faces and listening to their stories, trying to respond as best we can to their situation. To respond in a way which is always humane, just and fraternal.

This is effectively a call for unlimited immigration, at least from Latin America, because “we must not be taken aback by their numbers.” It brought to mind Deng Xiaoping’s response to Jimmy Carter’s complaint about Chinese emigration restrictions: “How many do you want? 10 million? 20 million? 30 million?”

But I was shocked that while there was a good chunk on immigration (plus on the death penalty, climate change, and the arms trade), there was only a single, indirect reference partly on abortion. The reference to “our responsibility to protect and defend human life at every stage of its development” was merely a preface to call for an end to capital punishment (which is explicitly permitted by the church, which killing babies is not). But even that reference didn’t make the point explicit by adding something like ”from conception to old age.” Ironically, the Pope condemned “this shameful and culpable silence” on the arms trade, but he himself engaged in a shameful and culpable silence on the killing of babies for their organs.

There was nothing in the speech that would have made Nancy Pelosi uncomfortable.


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