On the November 14 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor, host Bill O'Reilly warned the Vatican to either "wise up or shut up" when criticizing U.S. policy concerning the "illegal invasion" of the United States by people coming in from Mexico. O'Reilly declared that "[t]he Vatican opposes the [border] fence; they oppose the National Guard; it opposes any kind of punitive action against people who sneak in here, so ... the Vatican needs to wise up or shut up." O'Reilly then suggested that the Vatican has a "secular-progressive" philosophy, stating, "I think it is a one-world philosophy that a lot of secular-progressives ... really believe, that no country has a right to ban anybody or stop anybody from doing anything." When later challenged on that assertion by Santa Clara University theology teacher Sally Vance-Trembath* , who stated that "[t]he Vatican doesn't want us to be secular and take the Gospel out of our actions," O'Reilly replied: "I agree. ... The Vatican wants all the illegals to come here, but it does want them to be Catholic."
As The New York Times reported, on November 14 Cardinal Renato Martino condemned "Washington's plan to build a fence along the Mexican border, saying it was inhumane." Martino was delivering "Pope Benedict XVI's message for the Roman Catholic Church's World Day of Migrants and Refugees."
Vatican City, or the Holy See (the state of Vatican City), is an ecclesiastical independent state, ruled by the pope.
From the November 14 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor:
O'REILLY: The Vatican opposes the fence, they oppose the National Guard, it opposes any kind of punitive action against people who sneak in here, so how would we secure our borders and protect ourselves from the illegal invasion, professor?
VANCE-TREMBATH: What the Vatican is asking us to do is to pay attention to the whole system of laws so that the problems that cause people to flee Mexico to come to this country are addressed and that we should look at the whole -- the system, the problems that are caused by the things that keep people poor and that have --
O'REILLY: But that's theory. That's theory. We can't do anything about what happens inside of Mexico. And let me tell you this. You've been to the Vatican, have you not?
VANCE-TREMBATH: Yes, I have.
O'REILLY: All right. If a million people decide to camp out in Vatican Square tonight, the Swiss Guard will have them removed and so will the Italian police. And I think that the Vatican has got to -- needs to wise up or shut up. Am I wrong, Mr. Buchanan?
PAT BUCHANAN (author of State of Emergency: The Third World Invasion and Conquest of America (Thomas Dunne Books, August 2006)): I think what the Vatican is doing here is a terrible mistake. They're asking -- we're not responsible for the failure of the Mexican government. But the government of the United States, by the Constitution, by our laws, is responsible for securing the borders of the United States and enforcing the laws of the United States.
And the immigration laws of America are not unjust. We are the most generous people on earth. They simply say you cannot break into this country illegally and stay. And if you do, you have to return.
And because 150,000 are stopped every month on our border, we have decided to build a security fence around this country the way you build a security fence around your property or around the White House. And the Vatican seems not to understand the reality on our southern border, where, frankly, these individuals saying this are engaged in a little bit of anti-Americanism.
O'REILLY: You see, I don't know if it's anti-American. I don't believe it is. I think it's a one-world philosophy that a lot of secular-progressives, as I pointed out, really believe, that no country has a right to ban anybody or stop anybody from doing anything. Now, I don't know how -- have you confronted that philosophy, Pat? Have you seen that?
BUCHANAN: Yes, look. Let me tell you something. I have seen among some clerics in Latin America and other places real anti-Americanism.
For example, why is there not an outright condemnation of the Mexican government, which considers it a felony to cross over from Guatemala into Mexico and brutalizes these people and the second arrest puts them in prison. They are brutal on these people, even the Mexican human rights commission says whatever we say about the Americans, they treat our illegals far better than we treat the illegals from Central America. Why isn't the Vatican condemning them?
VANCE-TREMBATH: Well, I think we have to pay attention to the fact that many of my students are children of these precise people that you're talking about, people who have come to this country because they want a better life. And their children are now getting an education and making a fabulous contribution to our society. And I think we have to take care in identifying the Vatican with secular-progressivism. The Vatican doesn't want us to be secular and take the Gospel out of our actions.
The Vatican precisely wants us to --
O'REILLY: I agree -- I got to run. The Vatican wants all the illegals to come here, but it does want them to be Catholic.
*Correction: The original text of this item stated that Sally Vance-Trembath is a University of San Francisco theology professor. Vance-Trembath has left the University of San Francisco and now teaches at Santa Clara University. Media Matters for America regrets the error.