For some time we have been seeing evident adhesion on the part of both the ecclesial hierarchy and a large part of the Catholic world to the idea of fostering a rather broad and generalized reception of immigrants with practically no filters at all. It must be noted, however, that this new attitude is distinct with respect to what has traditionally been proposed by the Church, this being a governance of migratory flows guided by the criterion of the common good. In fact, a consequence of this new attitude seems to be the replacement of the common good with the multi-religious society considered to be the ultimate aim of society as such. Reception with neither filters nor governance of the common good considers the ensuing multi-religious society as good in its own right, and this to the point that Catholics should strive for it rather than for the common good, or insofar as coinciding with the common good.
Interest in this issue is due to the fact that such a new approach would entail a substantial revision of the Social Doctrine of the Church, its structure and its selfsame grounds. I am not questioning anyone’s intentions, and hence cannot say that the aim of this “openness” to the immigration phenomenon is to alter some of the fundamental elements of the Social Doctrine of the Church, but I cannot refrain from an objective assessment of this important issue.
If the multicultural society and not the common good is the aim of politics when it deals with immigration, two fundamental principles of the Social Doctrine of the Church cave in upon themselves.
The first of these is natural law which, until proven otherwise, is one of the irreplaceable fonts of the Social Doctrine of the Church. It is well known that not all religions respect natural law. The ones that admit polygamy or the anthropological superiority of one group over another, or men over women, do so with total disdain for natural law. This also occurs in the case of religions that establish an immediate relationship between divine revelation and civil law, allocating an immediate legal dimension to revelation. For many religions God is not Truth and hence do not have to respect reason. Hence, such religions pass not through the natural sphere and take it into no consideration at all. For other religions, God is not Person and they are therefore unable to ground the dignity of the human person required by natural law as well. All this without delving into ritual physical mutilations, sacred prostitution or other attitudes even more down to earth.
Respect for natural law is an integral part of the principle of the common good, while it is not part of the concept of a multicultural society. Replacing the principle with that concept therefore means foregoing the principle of natural law, and this is impossible without changing the fundamentals of the Social Doctrine of the Church. The principle of the common good is an absolute principle, while that of multicultural society is a principle relative to the common good upon which it depends.
The second fundamental element that would fall by the wayside is the centrality of God in the construction of earthly society. The social encyclicals are of one and the same voice when repeating that there is no solution to the social issue outside the Gospel, that the first factor of human development is the Gospel, and that adhesion to the values of Christianity is not only useful, but actually indispensible for the construction of the common good. In other words, they repeatedly affirm that the creature without the Creator literally collapses, and that there is not a single ambit of creation independent from the Creator. In the multicultural society, however, this indispensability of Catholicism disappears insofar as all other religions are also indispensible if the ultimate aim is a multicultural society. As a matter of fact, Catholicism’s indispensability presumption would be in open conflict with the multicultural society, and hence would be prejudicial, would be something to be avoided. Therefore, the very idea of a multicultural society entails the equivalence of all faiths, including Catholicism, as well as the indispensability of all religions; that is to say their equality with no concern for truth. Embodied in indiscriminate openness to immigration is a relativistic idea of religion, and therefore a turning of the Social Doctrine of the Church from a diamond into slivers of glass.
Let’s try to imagine a multi-religious society without Catholicism. There would be no common good, nor could there be. Let’s try to imagine a society with the sole presence of Catholicism, and therefore not multi-religious. The common good could very well be there. While all the other religions together are not able to produce the common good, the presence of the Catholic religion on its own would be able to do so. This is precisely what is denied by the multicultural society as the end or aim of social and political action, but this is precisely what the Social Doctrine of the Church has always affirmed.
Direttore dell'Osservatorio Card. Van Thuận