Pope Francis waves to boaters off Sicilian island near where many migrants perish.
The professional politicians in the House should pay close attention to what Pope Francis is saying about immigration. His words just might provide the much-needed impetus to persuade House lawmakers to pass comprehensive immigration reform, already passed by the Senate.
In his first pastoral visit outside Rome, Francis this month visited Lampedusa, the Sicilian island off Italy’s southern coast where more than 20,000 African and Mideast immigrants have drowned since the late 1990s trying to make shore and a new life in Europe. Many were pregnant women hoping that their children would be born on European soil and be granted citizenship. Tunisia is 75 miles to the south of Sicily.
In his homily at the Sunday Mass, this charismatic pope introduced his concept of the Globalization of Indifference. He told the 10,000 faithful — twice the treeless island’s population — that the drowning deaths of a dozen more immigrants a few weeks ago are like a “thorn in the heart.” The latest tragedy prompted him to try to awaken people’s consciences. “Today, no one feels responsible for (the deaths),” he said. “We have lost a sense of fraternal responsibility. The culture of well-being, which leads us to think only of ourselves, makes us insensitive to the cries of others.”
He said we have become a society that has forgotten how to cry.
The globalization of the world economy has led to the globalization of indifference, he charged.
The pope’s own family relocated to Argentina from Italy years ago and he feels a special kinship with refugees.
In America, the Latino archbishop of Los Angeles called on the House of Representatives to get moving on immigration reform legislation, citing the pope’s remarks about Europe’s treament of immigrants.
The same situation applies to the U.S., Archbishop Jose Gomez said.
The U.S. bishops have long backed immigration reform and a path to citizenship.Some conservative factions in the U.S. House are opposed to a path to citizenship. They need to hear from all of us if this long overdue measure is to pass.