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Pope says immigration policy should balance individual rights, national sovereignty

Catholic World News - May 28, 2010

A proper approach to immigration should balance "the rights and duties of foreigners and those of the host communities," Pope Benedict XVI said at a private audience with members of the Pontifical Council for Migrants.

Immigrants should be treated with respect, mindful of their human dignity and the rights conferred by natural law, the Pope said. "Obviously the acquisition of rights goes hand in hand with the acceptance of duties," he added, and immigrants bear some responsibilities toward their host countries.

The Pope suggested that Church groups, charitable agencies, and other non-profit groups could help governments in "reconciling recognition for the rights of the individual with the principle of national sovereignty, making specific reference to the needs of security, public order, and the control of frontiers."

Offering a few specific suggestions on immigration policy, the Pope said that laws should favor "the legitimate right to family reunion, asylum and refuge, compensating any necessary restrictive measures, and contrasting the deplorable traffic in human beings."

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  • Posted by: FredC - May. 31, 2010 10:16 AM ET USA

    As a member of the Reston (VA) re-development planning Task Force, I wrote a memo on "affordable housing" that included a section on the duties associated with rights. Task Force members criticized the report for raising such a religious idea! The secular world seems never to think about duties.

  • Posted by: paulmay6949 - May. 28, 2010 8:44 PM ET USA

    This reminds me of one of my father's teachings. He had been an Army officer, and frequently used his home made set of scales on his workbench in the basement for his lessons about what he called "the proper balance of authority and responsibility". One side of the scales was for responsibility; it was the larges tray. He would always first placed the material to be weighed on that tray, and only then did he put anything into the "authority" tray. I do not recall ever hearing the term "rights".

  • Posted by: John J Plick - May. 28, 2010 6:53 PM ET USA

    The Catholic Church in America is already supporting and encouraging people who break the law.

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