Pope Francis spoke out against the fear of immigrants and bigotry that are the defining traits of the Republican position on immigration.
During his address to Congress, The Pope said:
In recent centuries, millions of people came to this land to pursue their dream of building a future in freedom. We, the people of this continent, are not fearful of foreigners, because most of us were once foreigners. I say this to you as the son of immigrants, knowing that so many of you are also descended from immigrants. Tragically, the rights of those who were here long before us were not always respected. For those peoples and their nations, from the heart of American democracy, I wish to reaffirm my highest esteem and appreciation.
Those first contacts were often turbulent and violent, but it is difficult to judge the past by the criteria of the present. Nonetheless, when the stranger in our midst appeals to us, we must not repeat the sins and the errors of the past. We must resolve now to live as nobly and as justly as possible, as we educate new generations not to turn their back on our “neighbors” and everything around us.
Building a nation calls us to recognize that we must constantly relate to others, rejecting a mindset of hostility in order to adopt one of reciprocal subsidiarity, in a constant effort to do our best. I am confident that we can do this.
Francis was talking about accepting immigrants and the urgent refugee crisis in Syria. His remarks can also be viewed as a rebuke of the anti-immigrant position of Republicans.
The Pope took on the main excuse that Republicans give when they oppose immigration reform. When Republicans originally extended the invitation to Francis to address Congress, they were hoping to use the address to score political points.
Instead, they have had their bigotry and closed-mindedness towards immigrants called out by the Pope on the global stage.