The U.S. ambassador to the Vatican said that he expects the Pope will urge the U.S. to embrace its history of welcoming immigrants when Pope Francis’ visits the United States next month.
(AP) Ambassador Kenneth Hackett said the Pope’s immigration message will be important as lead GOP presidential contender Donald Trump has called for a border fence between Mexico and the United States and the deportation of millions of illegal immigrants, the Associated Press reports.
“I think he’ll call us to continue to engage with it (the world), don’t throw any walls up around our nation, don’t revert to isolationism,” he said. “We are a nation of welcoming people, so that’s where I think he will put his attention.”
In addition to immigration, Hackett says Pope Francis will likely wish to discuss income inequality, family issues, and the environment while he is in the country.
AP also observes that President Barack Obama is about to fully pass the baton of “rock-star status” from himself to Pope Francis, who has “embraced many of the issues Obama has sought to advance, including global warming, poverty, and diplomacy with Iran and Cuba.”
Pope Francis has “transcended the Roman Catholic community,” AP states, adding that Obama has referred to him as a “transformative leader.”
Similarly, Vice President Joe Biden has said the pontiff’s visit to the United States next month will be an important event for all Americans, not only Catholics.
“Pope Francis has breathed new life into what I believe is the central mission of our faith: Catholic social doctrine,” Biden said in a statement. The vice president added the Pope “has become a moral rudder for the world on some of the most important issues of our time, from inequality to climate change.”
Pope Francis will have a brief visit at the White House during his stay in the United States. He will also visit Cuba on this trip.
“For Obama, the visit offers a chance to imbue his remaining goals with a sense of moral authority as he approaches the end of his presidency,” AP says.
Ironically, when Obama visited Pope Francis last year at the Vatican, his description about the meeting contradicted the official Vatican account. While Obama said he and the Pope had not discussed any social issues in detail, Vatican officials said the two leaders discussed religious freedom, life, and conscientious objection – terms often used to mean abortion and the birth control mandate in Obamacare.
A similar situation occurred in 2009, when then-House Speaker and pro-abortion, pro-same-sex marriage Catholic Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) posed for a photo-op at the Vatican with Pope Benedict.
As Catholic News Agency reported at the time, the 15-minute meeting “turned sour” when Pope Benedict used the opportunity to reaffirm the Church’s teachings on the right to life and the duty to protect the unborn.
Following the meeting, the Holy See released a statement saying:
His Holiness took the opportunity to speak of the requirements of the natural moral law and the Church’s consistent teaching on the dignity of human life from conception to natural death which enjoin all Catholics, and especially legislators, jurists and those responsible for the common good of society, to work in co-operation with all men and women of good will in creating a just system of laws capable of protecting human life at all stages of its development.
Pelosi’s statement about the meeting with Pope Benedict was as follows:
In our conversation, I had the opportunity to praise the Church’s leadership in fighting poverty, hunger and global warming, as well as the Holy Father’s dedication to religious freedom and his upcoming trip and message to Israel. I was proud to show his Holiness a photograph of my family’s papal visit in the 1950s, as well as a recent picture of our children and grandchildren.