Catholic Social Teaching and Global Migration: Bridging the Paradox of Universal Human Rights and Territorial Self-Determination
In this essay, I will consider how law, religion, and democratic pluralism revolve around a particular issue: global migration. My essay is organized around three major themes. First, I explore the ways in which Catholic social teaching addresses human dignity, the plight of the poor, and the promotion of global justice. I argue that this theme provides an important bridge between secular and religious conceptions of human rights. Second, I argue that pluralism, particularly that which results from religious diversity and multi-ethnic, diasporic identities, is now a fundamental part of political and cultural life in the wealthy democracies of Europe and North America. The diversity within these societies is both a cause and a product of their wealth, as well as a response to their strong commitments to democratic principles, particularly human equality. Third, I consider how liberal political theory offers a secular understanding of human dignity that has much in common with Catholic social teaching. As an example, I consider Seyla Benhabib's argument that the global migration of peoples demands a vision of justice that recognizes a right to membership. Finally, I conclude by arguing that Catholic social teaching supports Benhabib's concept of a human right to membership and that the goal of a well-functioning liberal democracy should be to transform strangers into citizens.
Vincent D. Rougeau, Catholic Social Teaching and Global Migration: Bridging the Paradox of Universal Human Rights and Territorial Self-Determination, 32 SEATTLE U. L. REV. 343 (2008).