Sakset/Fra hofta

En komite i Overhuset advarer: planene om å øke innvandringen på 190.000 i året vil skape fattigdom og sosial urettferdighet i Storbritannia. Når skal Kirken slutte med sin vassne humanisme og begynne å tenke på konsekvensene for befolkningen, spør Damian Thomson.

A cross-party House of Lords committee has just concluded that plans to increase the population by 190,000 a year could have a major impact on public services and housing. The result would be the spread of poverty and injustice – yet the mainstream Churches still naively believe that «Gospel values» demand virtually open borders.

Last year, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor lent his name to a silly Left-wing campaign to grant amnesty to hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants. That was a sad demonstration of the politicisation of the English Catholic Church (though on this subject the Church of England and Nonconformists are equally naïve).

What makes this situation so frustrating is the pressing need for fresh Christian thinking about immigration. «Gospel values» do indeed demand a response to persecution and racism: that has not changed. What has changed is the ability of vast numbers of people to move at will across international borders, to the point where the host societies can no longer absorb them without creating fresh misery.

Where is the Christian leader willing to grapple with this conundrum? I remember a couple of years ago interviewing the Rev Richard John Neuhaus, an American Catholic theologian; he astonished me by suggesting that, for the protection of its own citizens, Britain might temporarily have to close its borders.

I don’t expect many clergy to agree. But it is time for them to recognise the legitimate anxieties of British citizens of all ethnic backgrounds, and to challenge the late 20th-century liberal consensus that national sovereignty is an outmoded concept.

That won’t happen until Church structures are freed from the stranglehold of Leftist public-sector bureaucrats. Don’t hold your breath.

Christians must rethink immigration