Pope Francis to immigrants: ‘Do not be ashamed of your traditions’
In the sky above New York Harbor on Saturday, Pope Francis found his way to the cockpit of his helicopter and asked the pilot to make a loop past Ellis Island, the historic gateway for millions of American immigrants.
It was an emotionally moving sight for the pontiff, the first Latin American pope, a child of immigrants, born Jorge Mario Bergoglio, the son of an Italian bookkeeper in Buenos Aires.
That impromptu detour on the way to the airport for the short flight to Philadelphia lent a symbolically resonant note to a U.S. visit in which the pontiff has interwoven references to the plight of immigrants, a call that powerfully resonates with the large U.S. Latino population so critical to the future of the U.S. Catholic Church. Although the pope has not delivered the kind of extensive remarks on the topic as he did on climate change at the United Nations, he introduced himself to the U.S. Congress as a “son of immigrants,” empathized aloud with immigrant schoolchildren in Harlem, and Saturday, with the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia as a backdrop, delivered a message that appeared to resonate greatly with the large number of Latino immigrants in the audience.
“I greet all of you with particular affection!” the pope said in Spanish. “Many of you have immigrated to this country at great personal cost, but in the hope of building a new life. Do not be discouraged by whatever challenges and hardships you face.”