During his speech at the U.S. Capitol on Thursday, Pope Francis urged political leaders to view migrants in a more benevolent manner and help youth "not to turn their back on our neighbors." Francis continued to speak favorably on immigrants during a visit to a catholic school in New York City earlier today.
The pontiff acknowledged the difficulties recently arrived migrants may have to be in a different country including learning "a new language...a new culture." Yet he praised those who open their arms to migrants and help accommodate them amid new surroundings.
"We find new friends...who open doors for us and show us their care and understanding," he said to an of some 150 refugees helped by Catholic Charities in New York.
"(They) help us not feel like strangers, like foreigners. They make us feel at home though our imagination may sometimes lead us to recall our homeland."
The Pope cited the late Rev. Martin Luther King's iconic "I Have a Dream" speech and urged the audience at the Lady Queen of Angels in Harlem to strive for their goals.
"All of you here, big and small, have a right to dream. I’m pleased that you find in your fellow students and teachers the ability to do so".
Francis, who was no stranger to celebrating with children when he served as Archbishop of Buenos Aires, was overjoyed as he encouraged a student chorus to sing louder for him. he viewed with an apparent wide-eyed curiosity at other pupils who showed him various school projects. The Pope even joked that he was sorry to take away time from teachers and gave students "homework": "pray for me so I can help spread the joy of Jesus' love."
His words to the young people came after he expressed his worries at the U.N. over the future vis-a-vis environmental degradation, poverty and a lack of opportunities.
"A selfish and boundless thirst for power and material prosperity leads both to the misuse of available natural resources and to the exclusion of the weak and disadvantaged," declared the Pope.
At the 9/11 memorial the pontiff also urged unity built on "our diversity of languages, cultures and religions," while at a mass at Madison Square Garden (MSG) focused on "second-class" citizens such as "foreigners" who populate major cities.
The importance of immigration for the Pope has been made clear during his U.S. visit as well as the seat he used at the MSG event:
The chair was constructed by a group of immigrant day laborers in a garage in Port Chester. The Archdiocese of New York said immigrants were specifically chosen because of Francis' concern over those who are marginalized and for his desire for justice in the world...
Francis will fly out of New York for Philadelphia on Saturday where he will speak in front of Independence Hall and celebrate mass at the World Meeting of Families.
The men, Hector Rojas, from Mexico' Fausto Hernandez, a native of the Dominican Republic; and Francisco Santa Maria, a native of Nicaragua; were chosen to help Brother Sal (Sammarco) in a collaboration between Don Bosco workers in Port Chester and Catholic Charities in Yonkers.
"Spiritual connection, you know," Rojas said. "That's why it's more special. I am glad to be helping the guys build the chair."
YouTube Source – Associated Press
Online Sources (English) – WABC, CBS News, The Latin Americanist, Reuters
Online Sources (Spanish) – La Nacion