Debate: Is the Church’s stance on immigration utterly impractical?

Migrants sit and take some rest on the tiny island of Lampedusa, Italy. Italy warned that it was facing a humanitarian and refugee crisis

Prime Minister David Cameron grabbed the front pages of British newspapers today with a hard-hitting speech on immigration. Mass immigration, he said, had caused “discomfort and disjointedness” in some neighbourhood and placed real pressures on communities.

Elsewhere in Europe criticism of mass immigration is growing. In Italy, the anti-immigration rhetoric is particularly intense following a sudden influx of migrants fleeing the turmoil in North Africa.

The Catholic Church has urged the Italian government to receive the migrants generously, sparking angry denunciations by politicians opposed to immigration. They claim that the Church is hopelessly naïve about immigration and challenge the bishops to put their words into action by opening Church properties to the new arrivals.

The Church’s defenders say it is offering a prophetic witness to the dignity of every human being, regardless of their social status.

So is the Church’s stance on immigration utterly impractical, or does it provide the answer to the growing discontent with mass migration in Europe?