Church teaching is often at odds with the prevailing beliefs of the world. Take three issues covered in this week’s Register: Immigration, condoms and war. Conventional wisdom scoffs at the Church’s teaching on these subjects. Yet it’s on precisely such issues as these that Catholics have a special obligation to learn from the wisdom of the Church and share it with others.

First, immigration. In 1999’s “The Church in America,” Pope John Paul II wrote: “Migrants should be met with a hospitable and welcoming attitude which can encourage them to become part of the Church’s life, always with due regard for their freedom and their specific cultural identity.”

This has always been difficult for many Americans. Irish immigrants often seemed to be poor, dirty, uneducated people. Italians’ ways were too foreign, they didn’t learn English fast enough and it seemed that we risked allowing a criminal element into the country by welcoming them. But today, both these groups are integral to the Church in America — and it’s our turn to welcome others.

Another tough Church teaching is its opposition to condoms. AIDS is so deadly, it seems axiomatic that a nation should promote condoms. But condoms programs aren’t just morally wrong — they’re wrong-headed.

Governments spend a lot of money each year telling kids not to touch electrical wires. Imagine if, instead, the government told kids to always wear rubber gloves when touching electrical wires.

Imagine if parents, schools and billboards all spoke the message over and over: “When you climb along telephone wires, make sure to wear your rubber gloves!” Imagine a TV commercial with Orlando Bloom dressed in his Pirates of the Caribbean costume, climbing a tree, headed toward a wire. “I love electrical-wire climbing as much as the next guy,” he might say to the camera. “Sometimes, it’s safe to do it without rubber gloves — but I never know when, so I wear them every time!”

Two things would happen: More rubber gloves would be sold — and the old social stigma about climbing on electrical wires would be gone. You’d see a big surge in people climbing on electrical wires — and a big surge of people getting hurt doing it.

The same is true of condom promotion programs.

They let teens know premarital sex is now officially okay. Society thus pushes young people forward into sexual relationships — which can kill them if they get AIDS, or simply leave them jaded, used or pregnant out of wedlock.

Yes, the programs also convince more teens to use condoms. But ultimately, we need to be honest with ourselves. We would be shocked if our teens showed the level of responsibility it takes to make their beds every morning. Why do we expect the high level of responsibility it takes to use condoms when in the throes of hormonal passion?

Another tough teaching for Americans is the Church’s teaching on war.

“[W]ar is the worst solution for all sides,” Pope Benedict XVI in his German television interview. “It brings no good to anyone, not even to the apparent victors. We understand this very well in Europe, after the two World Wars.”

In the United States, some Catholics were as quick to dismiss Benedict’s comments as they had been to dismiss Pope John Paul II’s assertion that “no problem is solved by war.”

But the first thing to remember is that Popes Benedict XVI and John Paul II’s words aren’t simply their private reactions to world events. They are the Vicars of Christ applying a clear teaching of the Church.

 It’s in the Catechism: “All citizens and all governments are obliged to work for the avoidance of war” (No. 2308). The Second Vatican Council teaches the same thing: “[A]ll Christians are urgently summoned … to join with all true peacemakers in pleading for peace and bringing it about” (Gaudium et Spes, No. 78).

It’s important to note that the Council also praises troops: “Those who devote themselves to the military service of their country should regard themselves as the agents of security and freedom of peoples … they are making a genuine contribution to the establishment of peace.”

But what the Church sees is that even just wars leave deep wounds. Take World War II, for instance. Our military rescued Europe, for which Pope John Paul II expressed his personal gratitude. But it brought decades of Soviet oppression to Eastern Europe — and left the rest a secularized shell of its former self.

Pope John Paul II’s nonviolent efforts in Poland left his country free and more Catholic than before. World War II did neither.

The lesson: When you hear a tough Church teaching, don’t be too quick to dismiss it. Pray for guidance, and read what the Church has to say. The Register will be there to help — on the Church’s side, every time.