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If the shoe fits: Papal remarks on immigration apply to U.S., too


  • Syrian refugees arrive at the camp for refugees and migrants in Friedland, Germany, in this April 4, 2016, file photo. Pope Francis' recent statements calling for a welcoming attitude to refugees and migrants hit a nerve on social media. (CNS photo/Kai Pfaffenbach, Reuters)
  • A handout photo made available by the Libyan Red Crescent shows volunteers of the Red Crescent recovering bodies washed ashore at the coast near Al Zawiya, Libya, Feb. 20. Pope Francis' recent statements calling for a welcoming attitude to refugees and migrants hit a nerve on social media. (CNS photo, EPA/Libyan Red Crescent)
  • U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a "strategic initiatives" lunch at the White House in Washington Feb. 22. Pope Francis' recent statements calling for a welcoming attitude to refugees and migrants hit a nerve on social media at a time when Trump has begun stricter border enforcement. (CNS photo/Kevin Lamarque, Reuters)
  • Afghan women hold placards as they take part in a protest demanding better living conditions at the refugee camp of the former international Helliniko airport in Athens, Greece, Feb. 18. Pope Francis' recent statements calling for a welcoming attitude to refugees and migrants hit a nerve on social media. (CNS photo/Yannis Kolesidis, EPA)
  • Libyan Coast Guard personnel pull an inflatable boat carrying immigrants at the Port of Tripoli, Libya, Feb. 4. Pope Francis' recent statements calling for a welcoming attitude to refugees and migrants hit a nerve on social media. (CNS/EPA)

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VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- When Pope Francis affirms basic Christian principles, he is not singling out one person or nation, but he definitely is not excluding them either.

The ongoing global migration and refugee crisis is a case in point.

The United States is not the only country engaged in a heated political debate over immigration policy with often opposing voices focusing on: ensuring the country's security; regulating numbers based on the resources available to resettle them; or living up to an ethical obligation -- and often a legal one, according to international treaties -- to shelter people fleeing violence and persecution and to welcome those seeking a more dignified life for themselves and their families.

While the pope's remarks on welcoming migrants and refugees cannot be read as focused on the U.S. debate, one also cannot pretend they have nothing to do with it.

The new Migrants and Refugees Section of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development "regularly informs the Holy Father about events that touch on the issue of migration, including the current debate underway in the United States of America," Scalabrinian Father Fabio Baggio, undersecretary of the office, told Catholic News Service Feb. 22.

Pope Francis, he said, supports the position expressed by the U.S. bishops, which emphasizes openness to newcomers and a comprehensive reform of U.S. immigration policy.

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