As Pope Francis addressed Americans from the White House this morning, he introduced himself first as the son of immigrants, praising America's immigrant roots.
"As the son of an immigrant family, I am happy to be a guest in this country, which was largely built by such families," he said after President Obama welcomed him to the White House.
He told a congregation of American catholic bishops in D.C.'s St Matthew's Cathedral this morning to "not be afraid to welcome immigrants."
“Now you are facing this stream of Latin immigration which affects many of your dioceses,” he told the bishops. “Not only as the Bishop of Rome, but also as a pastor from the South, I feel the need to thank and encourage you. I am certain that, as so often in the past, these people will enrich America and its Church.”
Pope Francis has called for unaccompanied minors caught crossing the border into the U.S. to be treated with compassion and offered protection.
“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,” he said last year. “They are increasing day by day. This humanitarian emergency requires, as a first urgent measure, these children be welcomed and protected.”
More recently, he called on European Catholic parishes and families to take in refugees arriving from the Middle East and Africa. The Pope will address Congress tomorrow, immigrants and immigration advocates poised to hear more.