By Ambassador Johnny Young
From his first day in office, Pope Benedict XVI has called on the church and the world to do what the bible has commanded for over two millennia, to welcome the stranger. This theme drives the work of the U.S. bishops Office of Migration and Refugee Services: resettling, providing services to unaccompanied children, working in anti-trafficking, striving for justice for the undocumented. What has mattered most in this outreach to welcome the stranger has been the consistency, resolve, clarity and unwavering moral authority with which the pope has spoken out on this issue through statements, speeches and private audiences. He continually reminds his followers and the world to give dignity and respect in the welcome to the stranger.
A vivid example of his resolve, determination and consistency on this issue is easily seen in remarks he made just prior to his arrival in the U.S. for an official visit in 2008.During the flight, he held a press conference, during which he strongly appealed to the U.S. to be true to its history and not forget its immigrants and to be an generous to them as it had been in the past. His calls of welcome are unending. His words have been helpful in supporting the work done by the Church in so many ways to welcome the stranger through efforts in anti-trafficking, caring for children, resettling refugees and working for justice the undocumented. These issues affect human dignity and his pronouncements on them have been clear, consistent and inspirational. His continued leadership on this is needed and will not be forgotten.
Ambassador Johnny Young is director of the Office for Migration and Refugee Services of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.