(Photo Credit: Carolyn Kaster/Associated Press)
If you’re worried about tens of thousands of illegal aliens streaming across the U.S. border without documentation, criminal background checks, medical clearance or the education level to score a decent-paying job, the Pope is here to tell you not to stress about it.
Before a joint session of Congress Thursday, Pope Francis gave the first-ever papal address to the entire U.S. legislature, telling them and the millions of Americans they represent that illegal immigration – which he dubbed a “refugee crisis” – should be met solely with understanding, compassion and open arms.
While the Bishop of Rome alluded briefly to the Syrian refugee crisis currently sweeping across much of Europe, he quickly turned his attention to the immigration surge flooding into the United States from Central America, encouraging U.S. natives not to be "taken aback by their numbers" or simply "discard whatever proves troublesome."
From the Pope’s speech:
In recent centuries, millions of people came to this land to pursue their dream of building a future in freedom. We, the people of this continent, are not fearful of foreigners, because most of us were once foreigners. I say this to you as the son of immigrants, knowing that so many of you are also descended from immigrants. Tragically, the rights of those who were here long before us were not always respected. For those peoples and their nations, from the heart of American democracy, I wish to reaffirm my highest esteem and appreciation. Those first contacts were often turbulent and violent, but it is difficult to judge the past by the criteria of the present.
Nonetheless, when the stranger in our midst appeals to us, we must not repeat the sins and the errors of the past. We must resolve now to live as nobly and as justly as possible, as we educate new generations not to turn their back on our "neighbors" and everything around us. Building a nation calls us to recognize that we must constantly relate to others, rejecting a mindset of hostility in order to adopt one of reciprocal subsidiarity, in a constant effort to do our best. I am confident that we can do this.
Our world is facing a refugee crisis of a magnitude not seen since the Second World War. This presents us with great challenges and many hard decisions.
On this continent, too, thousands of persons are led to travel north in search of a better life for themselves and for their loved ones, in search of greater opportunities. Is this not what we want for our own children? We must not be taken aback by their numbers, but rather view them as persons, seeing their faces and listening to their stories, trying to respond as best we can to their situation. To respond in a way which is always humane, just and fraternal. We need to avoid a common temptation nowadays: to discard whatever proves troublesome. Let us remember the Golden Rule: "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”