CNS photo/Joshua Roberts

‘Pope is hope’ to New York Latinos

  • September 24, 2015

NEW YORK - Pope Francis’ appeal to Congress on behalf of migrants has heartened New Yorkers, none more so that Franciscan Father Julian Jagudilla, director of the Church of St. Francis of Assisi’s Migrant Centre.

“It was inspiring to watch him,” Jagudilla said after the speech was broadcast nationwide. “It’s going to change the way we talk about immigration.”

In New York’s huge Hispanic community, the Pope’s constant advocacy for the world’s migrants has Spanish-speaking New York paying close attention. Headlines in New York’s Spanish dailies today include “I too am an immigrant” (Soy hiyo de immigrantes) splashed across the front page of El Diario and “The Pope is hope for New York migrants” (El Papa la esperanza para migrantes en N.Y.) on the front page of Diario De Mexico.

The new note Pope Francis has injected into America’s immigration debate is his frequent repetition of the word responsibility and his invocation of the Golden Rule, said Jagudilla.

“To respond in a way which is always human, just and fraternal. We need to avoid a common temptation nowadays: to discard whatever proves troublesome,” Pope Francis said. “Let us remember the Golden Rule: “

Jagudilla was impressed that Pope Francis spoke of the empathy Americans have for migrants because they are descended from migrants.

“We, the people of this continent, are not fearful of foreigners, because most of us were once foreigners,” said Francis. “I say this to you as the son of immigrants.”

“Those are powerful words,” said Jagudilla.

The speech to Congress was effective because the Pope spoke in simple words about common experiences, said Janine Walsh, communications co-ordinator for the Franciscan Action Network.

“He brings it down to such a human level,” said Walsh.

“We must not be taken aback by their numbers,” said the Pope. “But rather view them as persons, seeing their faces and listening to their stories, trying to respond as best we can to their situation.”

For Tom Backen, an immigration lawyer at the Franciscan Migrant Centre, the important word in the Pope’s address to Congress was “dialogue.”

“That’s one of the biggest problems in this country and Congress,” he said. “People just don’t listen to each other.”

The Pope’s speech was an important counter-example to a political system running on hype, conflict and extreme positions, said Jagudilla. On the issue of religious freedom the Pope was able to confront a “contorted understanding of the separation of Church and state,” Jagudilla said.


Read our complete coverage of the Pope's historic visit to the United States of America.

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