Pope Francis is more than head of the Catholic Church — he’s also the head of state of the Vatican, which as a government has possibly the most restrictive immigration and citizenship policies of any nation in the world.
The pope, traveling to the U.S. for the first time, has made a special appeal to Americans to welcome immigrants, using his address to a joint meeting of Congress Thursday to invoke the Golden Rule in demanding generosity toward the millions of Central and South Americans seeking to come to the country.
“Thousands of persons are led to travel north in search of a better life for themselves and for their loved ones, in search of greater opportunities. Is this not what we want for our own children?” he said. “We need to avoid a common temptation nowadays: to discard whatever proves troublesome. Let us remember the Golden Rule: ‘Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.’”
Immigrant rights groups had eagerly anticipated the pope’s message, as had illegal immigrants themselves.