Pope Says U.S. Should Welcome Refugees… But Doesn’t Mention Vatican City Still Closed

Pope Francis recited the usual script yesterday,

…Francis proclaimed, “Despite the large influx of migrants present in all continents and in almost all countries, migration is still seen as an emergency, or as a circumstantial and sporadic fact, while instead it has now become a hallmark of our society and a challenge.”

Emmer McCarthy for Vatican Radio said Francis expressed his concern for “the tens of thousands of children who migrate alone, unaccompanied, to escape poverty and violence.” He further sympathized, saying that “this is a category of migrants… who cross the border with the United States under extreme conditions and in pursuit of a hope that in most cases turns out to be vain.” The Pope added that the amount of those willing to take the dangerous journey “are increasing day by day.”

The Argentinean pontiff claims that the illegal immigrants are “forced to emigrate, suffer, and often, die tragically; many of their rights are violated, they are obliged to separate from their families and, unfortunately, continue to be the subject of racist and xenophobic attitudes.”

Rebecca Hamilton reporting for Patheos wrote that Cardinal Parolin also addressed the Colloquium and stated: “Whether they are traveling because of poverty, or violence, or with the hope of reuniting with relatives on the other side of the border, it is urgent to protect them and help them because their vulnerability is greater and they are defenseless against any abuse or misfortune.”

Finally, the Pope called for everyone to have a new outlook toward “migrants and refugees” and that we should discard previous conceptions of “defensiveness and fear, indifference and marginalization.” Moreover, the world should transform itself from a “throwaway culture” to a culture “capable of building a better, more just and fraternal world.”

[Pope Francis Calls on U.S. to Welcome Illegal Immigrants, by Robert Wilde, Breitbart, July 16, 2014

Are we supposed to celebrate the fact that we are importing a "challenge?"

At this time, it is revisiting a point made by the Social Contract Press,

Today, Vatican City operates something like a miniature Monaco. Totally surrounded by Rome, the city-state is in no way self-sustaining. Yet it does have a large, unionized workforce, a highly professional diplomatic corps, and a fairly good cash flow (due to support from Catholic parishes).

What it does not have is any immigrants. Nor refugees. None. I tried to get the Holy See's official point-of-view on this question by contacting its official representative in the U.S., Archbishop Agostino Cacciavillan, the papal nuncio. His assistant insisted she could answer no questions, and all official questions must be addressed to the archbishop himself in writing. I faxed a few simple questions over in April but received no reply.

So, is Vatican City too tiny to support even a few immigrants and refugees? If you just concentrate on the state's absolute size, 108.7 acres, it seems small indeed. But a cursory statistical analysis suggests that many cities in the United States of similar or greater population density are presently doing much more.

Take New York City, for example. It is huge, with a 1995 metropolitan-area population of 14,648,000, living on 1,274 square miles. That works out to 11,482.8 persons per square mile. If you isolate New York City proper, of course, the density grows much greater. In 1990, New York had a population of 7,311,966 residing on 308.9 square miles - that's 23,671 persons per square mile.9

Vatican City, meanwhile, with approximately 1,000 full-time residents10 sharing 108.7 acres, has a population density of just 5,900 per square mile - a fourth that of New York City.

In 1993, greater New York took in 128,434 legal immigrants, or .877 of its area population.11 (Illegal immigrants would have swollen that number considerably.) Against that standard, Vatican City should not object to taking a similar percentage of its population, especially with its relatively lower population density. That works out to just 8.7 persons each year (not counting illegals).

Since none at all are accepted, one begins to see a bit of a credibility problem. Namely, why should the Catholic hierarchy ask the United States to do (i.e., accept huge numbers of immigrants and refugees) what its own little country will not?

Perhaps the Vatican would argue that even 8.7 persons a year would eventually overwhelm its resources. In 50 years, after all, that would amount to 435 additional citizens, plus all their offspring. Accounting for the relatively high birthrates of refugee families, 50 years might well see a doubling of Vatican City's population.

Too much of a burden? Exactly. Vatican City will never have more acreage, but neither will New York.

[How Many Immigrants Does Vatican City Take?, by James Robb, The Social Contract Press, Summer 1995]