While many Catholic and Christian conservatives would like to pretend to themselves that Pope Francis is a Trojan horse sent by the American Democratic Party the reality is far different. What is this immigration reality?
Pope Francis came out of immigration experiences and cultures of both Italy and Argentina. You may not know this, but Pope Francis is a child of immigrants to South America.
We, the people of this continent, are not fearful of foreigners, because most of us were once foreigners. I say this to you as the son of immigrants, knowing that so many of you are also descended from immigrants
His father was a middle-class Italian right-wing oppression in Pre-WW2 Piedmont Italy. Piedmont was a fair skinned Northern Italian middle-class bulwark at that time that prided itself on its cosmopolitan wealth, industrial production, and rejection of both racism and communism. His father’s destination was the middle of Argentina- one of the most advanced majority Catholic countries outside of Europe at that time. The racial geography of Argentina was the mirror image of Italy. The north of Argentina had primarily darker skinned inhabitants while the central and the south had significant lighter skinned inhabitants. Italy had the opposite demographic distribution. The capitals are roughly around the same location- in the center of the landmass near the coast. Rome on the west coast, and Buenos Aeries on the East Coast. While the majority of immigration of 20th century Italy was over by that time, there was significant immigration to Argentina throughout the 20th century.
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?
Argentina was a country founded on immigration. They accepted over a million Italian immigrants in the period between the World Wars of the 20th Century.
Historically Argentina was founded by Spanish immigrants who exploited the first Argentines- the Tehuelche, Kolla, Toba, Wichí, Diaguita, Mocoví, Huarpe, Mapuche and Guarani and then stole by first violence and later bureocracy the wealth of the country for themselves and their descendents. Not only long before but also through the 20th century Argentine “Dirty War” these Spanish descendants would continue steal property and even children as their envy for wealth often took the form of political justification for their of murder and robbery.
This presents us with great challenges and many hard decisions.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.
Quote from Guerrilas and Generals: The “Dirty War” in Argentina
However for immigrants who did not challenge the social order they would find that they had led to a society that had a functioning middle-class economy with the opportunities afforded to those with the right training and education.
Tragically, the rights of those who were here long before us were not always respected. For those peoples and their nations, from the heart of American democracy, I wish to reaffirm my highest esteem and appreciation.
Pope Francis, a child of Piedmontese parents would be afford the opportunity to attain a diploma in chemistry and a middle class opportunity. This parallels another famous chemist born of Piedmont parentage- Primo Levi. Primo Levi worked as a Chemist and was a Italian of Jewish descent who wrote bestselling memoirs while working in Post-War Italy. While north and central Italy would go through a period of murder and robbery of Italian citizens of Jewish ethnicity in the 1940’s this racist violence would largely bypass Argentina. While Argentina alone is often blamed for allowing the immigration of guilty Germans who profited from the Holocaust the overall reality was that Argentina was a safer nation for Jewish people to live in then even Italy was.
The Argentine population of those of the Jewish ethnicity was largely middle class business owners and professionals. Much as in Germany, America, South Africa, Italy, France, and Austria they lived their own lives while being loyal to the government. This assimilation and accommodating did nothing to protect them from being betrayed in Europe where their businesses and wealth would be picked over and hoarded by the fascist vultures who murdered them. There were around 200,000 Argentine’s of Jewish ethnicity around the time of the birth of Pope Francis. This fact should always be kept in mind even when considering the 8,000 German war criminals who evaded justice and immigrated to Argentina after WW2 with hoarded wealth stolen from murdered European Jewry. However Argentine was more civilized then Europe and Argentine’s of Jewish ethnicity were able to keep their property as well as pursue middle class opportunities unavailable to the first peoples who formed a dispossessed lower class living in their own country which had been stolen from them.
Building a nation calls us to recognize that we must constantly relate to others, rejecting a mindset of hostility in order to adopt one of reciprocal subsidiarity, in a constant effort to do our best.
Pope Francis in his own life experience saw how well his life was in Argentina as a second generation immigrant. He would work both white collar jobs as a chemist’s assistant as well finding blue collar opportunities in bouncing and janitorial work.Later he would pursue exclusively white collar professions of primarily intellectual labor first by teaching psychology and literature and later theology after being ordained a Priest. He had opportunities afforded to him much greater then that of darker skinned native inhabitants therefore he is much more accomadationalist with the government and ruling classes that profit through their explotation and keeping the stolen wealth of a nation. Pope Francis had a extraordinarily positive experience in both his personal and professional life as a immigrant which was only possible because his parents had found political asylum through immigration – as well as starting in the middle class due to his father’s profession.
Our world is facing a refugee crisis of a magnitude not seen since the Second World War. To respond in a way which is always humane, just and fraternal. We need to avoid a common temptation nowadays: to discard whatever proves troublesome. Let us remember the Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” (Mt 7:12).
Pope Francis is in favor of immigration into the United States which is primarily from Latin America, the homeland of Pope Francis. He has lived almost his entire life in a Latin culture and probably feels empathy for his people there as well as in the United States. The current first generation Latino immigrants in the United States are exploited for the wealth of the middle class by working below minimum wage jobs without benefits in the agricultural sector. Their working labor is also exploited for the benefit of landscaping and janitorial and construction companies owned by lighter skinned middle-class citizens. While right-wing conservatives decry the Latino misdemeanor presence in this country they suddenly become unable to speak against the local businesses which profit from their hard work and are forced to take the intellectually tenuous position that this sweat and labor does not exist and that these Latino men who are some of the hardest construction and agricultural laborers actually never worked at all but are simply sitting at home collecting welfare. This is simply a racist fantasy entertained by some protestant and secular conservatives. Many Catholics are no different. Much of their thinking on social issues has been informed by intellectuals which support the right-wing Republican party and its Tea Party splinter group.
A conservative Catholic these days is probably mostly white skinned, college educated, and holds down a middle class career. They don’t see the tens of thousands of Latinos working under exhausting conditions for the benefit of others in their class. They only hear what right-wing intellectuals and personalities tell them. And conservative Catholics want to ‘fit in’ with both faithless as well as Protestant conservatives which dislike the massive wave of Catholic immigrants.
There was a time when Irish were locked out of entry-level employment. Now they are primarily known for a once a year parade in numerous cities where everyone wishes they were Irish, wears green, and sometimes speaks with a terrible accent. Many immigrant waves which arrived in America without access to capital had to work their way up the social ladder.
Catholics in the United States who attain a middle class lifestyle do sometimes feel that their position is precarious and requires them to ‘blend in’ with the dominant culture. This took the form of supporting their pro-slavery Protestant middle-class friends by ignoring the Papal condemnation of the slave trade as well as keeping quiet on the exploitation of early Irish Catholic immigrants. Now we are faced with Latino immigration- and spending $362 million dollars a year to private companies in order to imprison entire families. That breaks down to a cost of $161 per immigrant per day to keep them imprisoned- a cost much higher then emergency housing and food stamps.
However as much as conservative Catholics wish to put their fingers in their ears the Pope has spoken. He has not spoken heresy, neither is he an Anti-Pope preaching accomodation to sin due to ‘the complexities of life’. There is only one Pope right now. There is not a Greek Pope, an Italian Pope, and a French Pope so you cannot say you are confused as to who to follow. As a Catholic you must have an informed conscience. Therefore let your conscience be informed by Pope Francis and not Bill O’Reilly.
This Rule points us in a clear direction. Let us treat others with the same passion and compassion with which we want to be treated. Let us seek for others the same possibilities which we seek for ourselves. Let us help others to grow, as we would like to be helped ourselves. In a word, if we want security, let us give security; if we want life, let us give life; if we want opportunities, let us provide opportunities.