Pope Benedict supports US bishops' work for immigration reform

Pope Benedict

Pope Benedict XVI paid tribute to “the long standing commitment of the American bishops to immigration reform” when he addressed a group of US bishops who were completing their ad limina visits  to the Vatican recently.

"The Catholic community in the United States continues, with great generosity, to welcome waves of new immigrants, to provide them with pastoral care and charitable assistance, and to support ways of regularizing their situation, especially with regard to the unification of families,” the Pope stated.

"This is clearly a difficult and complex issue from the civil and political, as well as the social and economic, but above all from the human point of view. It is thus of profound concern to the church, since it involves ensuring the just treatment and the defense of the human dignity of immigrants," Benedict said.

The possibility of immigration reform, he said, is “of profound concern to the Church, since it involves ensuring the just treatment and the defense of the human dignity of immigrants.”

He also singled out nuns for the effort saying:  "I wish to reaffirm my deep gratitude for the example of fidelity and self-sacrifice given by many consecrated women in your country."

The Pontiff also spoke about the “swelling numbers of Hispanic, Asia, and African Catholics” entering the U.S.

He acknowledged that in the past Americans had confronted immigrant Catholics noting that “the Church in America has struggled to recognize and incorporate this diversity,” but recognized that immigrant’s traditions help to strengthen “a communion in Christ and in the apostolic faith which mirrors the catholicity which is an indefectible mark of the Church.”