Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Do as I say, not as I do

Cardinal Martino of the Vatican says that the US proposal to build a fence along the Mexican border is "inhumane". I wish I could understand why someone building a fence around their property is "inhumane".

I know it's obvious and many have said this already, but doesn't the Vatican have a fence (okay - a wall) around it? I live in a country where every single single small garden is surrounded by a fence or a wall. Are all these landowners behaving inhumanely? Nearly all Church properties are surrounded by walls or fences. If fences and walls are inhumane shouldn't the Church start with its own properties before criticizing others?

And, what exactly is "inhumane" about a fence along the border anyway. I can understand the arguments that say such a fence will be ineffective or is unnecessary, but "inhumane"? That makes no sense to me. If a fence is "inhumane" then surely so are border guards and immigration officials. Those people are supposed to protect the border from unwanted intrusions, which is what the fence is supposed to do.

I've been trying to figure out what's going on here because this is one of the more bizarre interventions from the Vatican. Does the Cardinal believe that those who break the law (illegal immigrants) have a right to do so? If yes, I think that conflicts with the catechism's teachings on authority and the "rule of law". If not, what's his problem? The US is not closing off legitimate cross-border traffic with the proposed fence. The US is not preventing people from leaving the country (unlike the Berlin Wall which he references). There is no question that the fence will be entirely within the borders of the United States (as recognized by both Mexico and the Vatican). So, again, what's his problem?