As the immigration issue continues to rage on, the church is often accused of acting simply in its own self-interest. After all, the vast majority of undocumented workers in the U.S. are Catholics from Latin America. But an article in the Los Angeles Times demonstrates that the Catholic commitment to justice for immigrants goes much deeper.
In a report from Rome, The Times focuses on the John Paul II Canteen there, which offers immigrants in the Eternal City a place to sit and have a hot meal. But Italy's immigration issue has nothing to do with Latinos -- there, the majority are Muslim.
As the article points out, Catholics advocate for these immigrants in a way that could actually be seen as against the church's ultimate self-interest. As Pope Benedict has noted, the numbers of native born Catholics are on the decline throughout Europe (including Italy) -- without being refreshed by large numbers of Catholic immigrants. Those immigrants are Muslim, instead.
But Vatican officials quoted by the Times say this shows that the church is acting on principle, not pragmatism -- and that this record in Europe should lend support of what bishops in America are doing to help Latino immigrants there.
"For the church, the perspective is ... the right of the human being to be treated with dignity," said the Vatican's chief spokesman, Fr. Federico Lombardi. "It's not just a religious issue. It is more profound."