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Vatican Cardinal Sarah: Nations Have ‘the Right to Distinguish Refugees from Economic Migrants’

Vatican Cardinal Robert Sarah has praised Poland for standing up to the European Union’s “immigration logic” and fighting to preserve its own cultural identity but not allowing the nation to be overrun with migrants.

Speaking at the Europa Christi conference in Warsaw on Sunday, the African cardinal—considered by many as papabile, a contender for the papacy—said that while every migrant is a human being who must be respected, that doesn’t mean that a country should compromise the common good through indiscriminate immigration.

This is especially true when migrants come from another culture or another religion, since their integration into a nation’s culture is more complex, he suggested.

Cardinal Sarah, who is Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, said that no one should challenge “the right of a nation to distinguish refugees from economic migrants who do not identify with the culture of the country in which they wish to live.”

The outspoken African cardinal has been dubbed “a standard bearer for Catholic orthodoxy,” and was the world’s youngest bishop in 1979, when Pope John Paul II summoned him to the episcopate at only 34 years of age.

In his comments, the Cardinal echoed the words of Pope Francis, who last year made similar distinctions.

During the papal press conference on the return flight from Sweden to Rome last November, the Pope expressed his belief that people’s hearts should be open to migrants and refugees, but that political authorities need to exercise prudence so as not to allow more migrants into the country than can be reasonably integrated.

The Pope insisted on the importance of distinguishing between migrants and refugees, suggesting that they represent different problems.

“Migrants should be treated according to certain rules, because migration is a right, but one which is highly regulated,” he said. “On the other hand, to be a refugee means coming from a terrible situation of war, anguish, hunger and the status of a refugee requires more care, more work.”

Francis also made allowances for European politicians—from countries such as Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic—who have chosen to close their borders to immigrants, saying that politicians have a right to exercise prudence in such decisions.

“So what do I think of those who close their borders?” Francis asked. “I think that in theory no one should close their heart to a refugee, but those who govern must also exercise prudence. They should be very open to receiving them, but they should also calculate how they will be able to settle them, because a refugee must not only be welcomed, but also integrated.”

“And if a country is only able to integrate 20, let’s say, then it should only accept that many. If another is able to do more, let it do more,” he said.

In his address Sunday, Cardinal Sarah noted that Poland refuses to accept the “logic” of migration that “some people wish to impose,” a position shared by several Central European nations.

The Hungarian government, for instance, has repeatedly insisted that immigration is a question of national sovereignty and should not be dictated by bureaucrats of the European Union.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has claimed that the European Union has adopted immigration plans designed by left-wing billionaire George Soros, whose stated goal is to bring in a million migrants per year to Europe.

Last Friday, the European Parliament’s Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice, and Home Affairs (LIBE) moved toward revamping the EU’s Common Asylum System, adopting a program that would oblige member states to accept asylum seekers against the will of their people.

Viktor Orbán slammed the European Parliament for adopting such changes, which the Hungarian government sees as the implementation of the “Soros Plan” to flood the continent with an unlimited number of third-world migrants.

“The musket is not only primed but loaded: in Europe in the future a permanent and mandatory migrant relocation quota mechanism will be established, with no upper limit on numbers: the mandatory relocation quota,” Mr. Orbán said.

Orbán called the move by the European Parliament an “attack on our sovereignty.”

According to Cardinal Sarah, the ideology of liberal individualism “promotes a blending that is supposed to erode the natural borders of homelands and cultures, and lead to a post-national and one-dimensional world where the only criteria are consumption and production.”

While the Cardinal recognized that European countries bear a part of the responsibility for the destabilization of countries that are the source of the migrant crisis, this does not give license for mass migration.

“Once again, we must work together to rebuild the nations that have fallen victim to war, corruption and injustice,” the Cardinal said.

Cardinal Sarah also criticized the decision by European leaders to distance themselves from the continent’s Christian roots, and to build its institutions on abstractions such as the free market, equality of individuals, and individualist human rights.

Follow Thomas D. Williams on TwitterFollow @tdwilliamsrome

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