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Why are Catholics So Friendly Toward Migrants?

April 5th, 2024

The Statue of Liberty
Some Catholics are coming under fire from their own governments for supporting migrants, which they view as a biblical mandate.

Today, immigration is one of the most controversial issues in the United States. Not only that, but it is proving to be a major flashpoint as we approach the next presidential elections. Many Americans have very strong views on this subject, and it is perhaps one of the most polarizing issues in the modern world. This is true not only in the United States but across the globe. Many populist movements are gathering momentum in Western nations, rejecting the high levels of immigration their governments have facilitated. Others welcome immigrants with open arms, and the Catholic faith has long been associated with this stance. Why is this? What is it about Catholicism that prompts such an accepting view of migration?

The Pope is One of the Most Outspoken Supporters of Migrant Protection

Pope Francis is one of the most outspoken supporters of migrants, and the Vatican has been fighting for the rights of these individuals under his leadership for years. In 2022, he publicly denounced Europe’s approach to refugees and migrants arriving in the Mediterranean while supporting anyone who would risk their life to arrive in a new, safer country. He has referred to some nations as “belligerent nationalists” while publicly calling for a more accepting stance. He also argued that contrary to many voices in the global community, Europe does not have a “migrant problem.” 

Catholics are Traditionally Supportive of Migrants

While Pope Francis seems to be especially passionate about this issue, supporting migrants is nothing new in the Catholic faith. For over 100 years, the Catholic Church has celebrated the “World Day of Migrants and Refugees” in September. 

But why is this? What is it about Catholicism that leads to such a supportive view of migration – even that which is arguably overwhelming Western nations? 

Many Catholics quote scripture when explaining these views. A particularly popular quote comes from Deuteronomy 10:19:

“Love the stranger then, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.”

This is often summarized as simply “Love the stranger,” and it has become something of a slogan for Catholics who support migrants.   

Numerous other Bible quotes help clarify this welcoming stance:

  •  “You shall treat the alien who resides with you no differently than the natives born among you; have the same love for him as for yourself; for you too were once aliens in the land of Egypt”
  •  “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me” 
  • “There is neither Jew nor Greek . . . for you are all one in Christ Jesus” 

El Paso Bishop Maintains Migrant Shelter Despite Legal Action

Some Catholics are coming under fire from their own governments for supporting migration – especially illegal migration. On February 23, 2024, a Bishop in El Paso was ordered to close his migrant shelter by the Attorney General of the Lone Star State. The AG even went so far as to accuse the Bishop of facilitating human trafficking, referring to the shelter as a “stash house.”

Keep Informed with the Universal Life Church

Each month, various cases test the nature of religious rights in this country. While the basis for many religious rights is the United States Constitution, there are still countless cases that question the exact nature of these rights. The Universal Life Church’s blog is focused on documenting the most noteworthy of these cases in an objective manner that can be easily understood by readers.

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