John L. Allen Jr.: Crackdowns on Islamic radicalism can boomerang on the Church

(Crux) Four years of Pope Francis notwithstanding, it remains generally true in Europe that the more overtly Catholic a political party is, the more likely it is to advocate a restrictive line on immigration.

That’s the case with the Law and Justice party in Poland, for instance, as well as Viktor Orbán’s Fidesz party in Hungary, which puts great stock in its Catholic support despite the fact Orbán himself is a Calvinist.

There are several reasons why culturally conservative Catholics tend to be skeptical about immigration, with security and the fear of terrorism being near the top of the list. Another major factor, however, is that a disproportionate share of migrants and refugees seeking to enter Europe today are Muslims, raising anxiety about the Christian roots of Europe, already badly frayed by centuries of intense secularization.

That’s what led then-Cardinal Giacomo Biffi of Bologna, for instance, to suggest in 2000 that Italy restrict Muslim immigration and give preference to Catholic migrants.

“I don’t know how you’re going to cope with Friday as a holiday, polygamy, discrimination against women, and the fundamentalism of Muslims, for whom politics and religion are the same thing,” Biffi said at the time.

Biffi died in 2015, but he’s hardly the only important Catholic figure thinking along those lines. [More]