Pope Francis: Immigrants Have Dignity & Deserve Respect

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We were encouraged that Pope Francis’ first words in his first speech in the U.S. addressed this issue, “As the son of an immigrant family, I am happy to be a guest in your country, which was largely built by such families.”

Pope Francis’s passionate call for “as many young people as possible [to] inherit and dwell in a land which has inspired so many people to dream” comes amid a fierce national debate over how to handle an estimated 12 million undocumented immigrants in the US.

“In recent centuries, millions of people came to this land to pursue their dream of building a future in freedom,” Francis told hundreds of lawmakers, cabinet members and supreme court justices in a packed joint session of Congress. It was the first time in history a pope had addressed the legislative body.

“We, the people of this continent, are not fearful of foreigners, because most of us were once foreigners,” added Francis, who was born in Argentina to Italian parents. “I say this to you as the son of immigrants, knowing that so many of you are also descended from immigrants.”

“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,” he said.

“To respond in a way which is always humane, just and fraternal,” added Francis. “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.’”

Pope Francis’ Most Notable Quotes on Immigration:

“Migrants trust that they will encounter acceptance, solidarity, and help, that they will meet people who will sympathize with the distress and tragedy experienced by others, recognize the values and resources the latter have to offer, and are open to sharing humanly and materially with the needy and disadvantaged.”

Message for the 2013 World Day of Migrants and Refugees, October 12, 2012

“Migrants and refugees can experience, along with difficulties, new, welcoming relationships which enable them to enrich their new countries with their professional skills, their social and cultural heritage, and not infrequently, their witness of faith, whcih can bring a new energy and life to communities of ancient and Christian tradition, and invite others to encounter Christ and to come to know the Church”

Message for the 2013 World Day of Migrants and Refugees, October 12, 2012

“The Church is Mother, and her motherly attention is expressed with special tenderness and closeness to those who are obliged to flee their own country and exist between rootlessness and integration. This tension destroys people. Christian compassion—this ‘suffering with’ compassion—is expressed first of all in the commitment to obtain knowledge of the events that force people to leave their homeland, and where necessary, to give voice to those who cannot manage to make their cry of distress and oppression heard. They are all elements that dehumanize and must push every Christian and the whole community to concrete attention.”

Address to the Participants in the Plenary of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People, May 24, 2013

“Immigrants dying at sea, in boats which were vehicles of hope and became vehicles of death. That is how the headlines put it. When I first heard of this tragedy a few weeks ago, and realized that it happens all too frequently, it has constantly come back to me like a painful thorn in my heart. So I felt that I had to come here today, to pray and to offer a sign of my closeness, but also to challenge our consciences lest this tragedy be repeated. Please, let it not be repeated!”

Homily at Lampedusa, July 8, 2013

“Where is your brother?” His blood cries out to me, says the Lord. This is not a question directed to others; it is a question directed to me, to you, to each of us. These brothers and sisters of ours were trying to escape difficult situations to find some serenity and peace; they were looking for a better place for themselves and their families, but instead they found death. How often do such people fail to find understanding, fail to find acceptance, fail to find solidarity. And their cry rises up to God! Once again I thank you, the people of Lampedusa, for your solidarity. I recently listened to one of these brothers of ours. Before arriving here, he and the others were at the mercy of traffickers, people who exploit the poverty of others, people who live off the misery of others. How much these people have suffered! Some of them never made it here.”

Homily at Lampedusa, July 8, 2013

“Despite the problems, risks, and difficulties to be faced, great numbers of migrants and refugees continue to be inspired by confidence and hope; in their hearts they long for a better future, not only for themselves but for their families and those closest to them.”

Homily at Lampedusa, July 8, 2013

“Migrants and refugees are not pawns on the chessboard of humanity. They are children, women, and men who leave or are forced to leave their homes for various reasons, who share a legitimate desire for knowing and having, but above all for being more.”

Message for the 2014 World Day of Migrants and Refugees, September 24, 2013

“I will also pray in a special way for our brothers and sisters, men, women and children who have died of thirst, hunger or from the exhaustion on the journey to find a better life. In recent days we have seen those terrible images of the desert in the newspapers. Let us all pray in silence for these brothers and sisters of ours.”

Angelus, November 1, 2013

“The Church without frontiers, Mother to all, spreads throughout the world a culture of acceptance and solidarity, in which no one is seen as useless, out of place, or disposable.”

Message for the 2015 World Day of Migrants and Refugees, September 3, 2014

“Often, however, such migration gives rise to suspicion and hostility, even in ecclesial communities, prior to any knowledge of the migrants’ lives or their stories of persecution and destitution. In such cases, suspicion and prejudice conflict with the biblical commandment of welcoming with respect and solidarity the stranger in need.”

Message for the 2015 World Day of Migrants and Refugees, September 3, 2014

“It is necessary to respond to the globalization of migration with the globalization of charity and cooperation, in such a way as to make the conditions for migrants more humane.”

Message for the 2015 World Day of Migrants and Refugees, September 3, 2014

“I would also like to draw attention to the tens of thousands of children who migrate alone, unaccompanied, to escape poverty and violence: This is a category of migrants from Central America and Mexico itself who cross the border with the United States under extreme conditions and in pursuit of a hope that in most cases turns out to be vain. They are increasing day by day. This humanitarian emergency requires, as a first urgent measure, these children be welcomed and protected.”

Papal Message on the occasion of Mexico Holy See colloquium on human migration and development, July 14, 2014

 

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