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Pope Francis: World Should Welcome, Respect Immigrants

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On the World Day of Migrants and Refugees, Pope Francis said in a message that more host countries around the world should welcome and respect immigrants and not treat them as “pawns on the chessboard of humanity.”

As he said in the message, according to Reuters:

They are children, women and men who leave or who are forced to leave their homes for various reasons, who share a legitimate desire for knowing and having, but above all for being more.

Calling for “the elimination of prejudices and presuppositions” in the approach to migration, he said:

Not infrequently, the arrival of migrants, displaced persons, asylum-seekers and refugees gives rise to suspicion and hostility. There is a fear that society will become less secure, that identity and culture will be lost, that competition for jobs will become stiffer and even that criminal activity will increase…

A change of attitude towards migrants and refugees is needed on the part of everyone, moving away from attitudes of defensiveness and fear, indifference and marginalization – all typical of a throwaway culture – towards attitudes based on a culture of encounter, the only culture capable of building a better, more just and fraternal world.

The pope has on various occasions criticized indifference to the plight of immigrants in the past.  US religious leaders, such as those with the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, have invoked the Pope’s support as one reason to pass immigration reform. Most Americans agree we need real reform. Now, if only certain Catholic members of Congress, like Speaker John Boehner and Rep. Steve King, would see the light on this issue.