Friday, March 1, 2024

Comentarios from Maria: Pope Francis Made Us Proud to be Immigrants


By now, we have had a week to absorb and contemplate on the historic visit of Pope Francis to our country and beautiful capital city. It was a spiritual moment for all Latinos, especially believers, whereupon we realized that he is one of us. And he let us know from the very first moment he spoke: “I am the song of immigrants, and I am here, in a country born of immigrants,” declared Francis in his visit to the White House.

Immigration was a topic that the Pope touched upon several times during his visit, emphasizing all of the positive contributions made by the immigrant population of our country and all of which we are a part in American society: raising children, starting businesses and working hard every day to provide our families with a better life and brighter future.

Such was the attention of the Pope during his parade through our city, as a young Latina (who has, in fact, already gained much fame) made her way past the security barricades and toward the passing Pope-mobile. The Pontiff asked that his vehicle be stopped to greet her, and he was given a t-shirt and letter in which the little girl, Sofia Cruz, asked that Francis intervene on behalf of all immigrants, especially her parents, so that she did not have to live with the fear that one day when she wakes up they would be gone.

Later, in Philadelphia, the Pope delivered an extraordinary speech which focused on immigration, wherein he urged immigrants to not be ashamed but rather proud of everything we do for this great nation.

As a Latina, a Catholic, an immigrant from Colombia, and mother of two Latinos, it brought tears to my eyes hearing the consolation Francis, blessed by the Holy Spirit, brought to our brothers and sisters who have long heard so much hateful, anti-immigrant, anti-Hispanic rhetoric.

As we well know, the issue of immigration has grown very controversial in our country, precisely for this kind of conversation born of members of the extreme political right. And now, in the midst of a presidential campaign season, even the most moderate Republicans have been unable to stop this brand of xenophobic dialogue that extremists are spreading throughout the country.

The visit of Pope Francis may have served to teach many how to treat those who feel isolated, marginalized, devoid of basic rights and displaced by the broken immigration system.

Another issue that the Pope adopted with great urgency was his call to protect the environment, especially during his speech to the United Nations in which he said “any damage to the environment is damage to humanity.” I am grateful for the Holy Father highlighting climate change as an issue that affects so many in our community, and the health and wellbeing of our families.

The Pope finally highlighted the Golden Rule, “do unto others as you would like to be done to yourself.” I hope our leaders, especially Republicans, listen, understand, and govern with this rule in mind. In that way, all can succeed.

This article originally appeared in Spanish in the Washington Hispanic.