GOP Rep Presses Catholic Bishop on Vatican’s Wall After Pope Voiced Opposition to Expanding US Border Wall

Congressman Clay Higgins/Facebook

The ranking Republican representative on a House Homeland Security Subcommittee pressed a Catholic bishop on why there is a wall surrounding the Vatican after Pope Francis came out in opposition to the idea of governments building border walls early last month.

During a hearing for the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Border Security, Facilitation, and Operations on Tuesday, subcommittee ranking member Rep. Clay Higgins (R-La.) — who was first elected in 2016 — brought up the “sovereignty” of the Catholic church as well as its role as a “light in the world for the past 2,000 years” while questioning Bishop Mark Seitz.

Higgins then brought up the famous wall around the Vatican in Rome and the “security” it affords the church before asking Seitz if churches in El Paso, Texas, — the area where Seitz serves in the Catholic Diocese — “lock[ed] their doors after hours.”

“But the sovereignty of the church has been protected by the security of the church. One of the most famous walls in history is the wall around the Vatican. I would ask you, bishop, in the area that your serve, do your churches lock their doors after hours?”

Seitz responded to Higgins by saying that “many of [the churches] do” and stating that “that wall you refer to at the Vatican also has arms embracing and opening to the world.”

As the bishop attempted to continue on in his answer, he was interrupted by Higgins, who quipped that the U.S. also opens its arms to the world through our “328 ports of entry.”

“As we do. We have 328 ports of entry — legal entry — into the United States of America.”

At the beginning of last month, Pope Francis reiterated his opposition to border walls built by governments to curb migration while en route to Rome from Morocco.

“Those who build walls will become prisoners of the walls they put up,” said the Pope. “This is history.”

Pope Francis
Remo Casilli/Reuters

Seitz testified before the subcommittee about how the local, nongovernmental organizations in border towns are handling the influx of migrants being released into their communities. Higgins asked Seitz about how the Catholic Church is helping in Central America, where almost 70 percent of people are Catholic.

The bishop said that the church was “working very hard” in the Central American countries “to dissuade people from leaving their homes.”

“There is an active engagement, but the problem is the governments are so weak and so corrupt that there is no authority on the governmental level that people can go to,” Seitz added.

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