Dignitas, Gaudium, and deportations

A certain passage in Dignitas infinita, the recent document on human dignity, strikes me as phrased in a misleading way, and I wonder if anyone else is noticing this too.  In paragraph 34, the Congregation Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith states that the Second Vatican Council

denounced ‘all offenses against human dignity, such as subhuman living conditions, arbitrary imprisonment, deportation, slavery, prostitution, the selling of women and children, degrading working conditions where individuals are treated as mere tools for profit rather than free and responsible persons.’”

Dignitas infinita 34, quoting Gaudium et spes, section 27

The word that stands out to me is “deportation”. Is Dignitas trying to tell us that Vatican 2 denounced deportation in general?

That would be politically useful now, as it would seem to fit in with the frequent emphasis from Pope Francis about the rights of migrants, who are mentioned directly in paragraph 40 of Dignitas.

But I doubt that the Council meant to reject deportation broadly in Gaudium, since the Church has acknowledged the right of countries to regulate immigration:

Political authorities, for the sake of the common good for which they are responsible, may make the exercise of the right to immigrate subject to various juridical conditions…

Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraph 2241

and that implies a right for countries to refuse foreign nationals who don’t meet the juridical conditions.

But Gaudium et spes names “deportation” without any specifics. If it could not have meant deportation in general, it must have been referring to categories of deportation that readers at the time would recognize as abusive. What might those be?

Gaudium was promulgated at the height of the Cold War, in 1965. The deportations that drew the most attention then were probably the occasional expulsions of individual Soviet-bloc dissidents to the West, and there had also already been the expulsions committed by various empires for the sake of what we now call “ethnic cleansing”: that is, in the Ottoman Empire, the German Third Reich, and the Soviet Union: expulsions of millions of people, some deported outside the respective empires, some exiled internally to places where they were treated as cheap or even enslaved labor.

So 59 years ago the Council had good reason to list deportation as an insult to human dignity, in Gaudium et spes (in section 27, Latin deportationes). But now, when Abp. Fernandez incorporates the passage into Dignitas infinita, the bare, unexplained word may give present-day readers the false impression that an Ecumenical Council had broadly denounced normal governmental control of immigration as a grave moral offense. It would be a rhetorical sleight-of-hand, even though unintended.

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