Pastoral Care of Immigrants a Priority in Mexico and U.S., Says Pope

Concerned About Their Vulnerability

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CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, SEPT. 15, 2005 ( Benedict XVI lamented the vulnerability of many Mexican immigrants in the United States and stressed that their pastoral care is a priority for the Church in both countries.

Meeting with the bishops of northeastern Mexico today at the papal summer residence, the Holy Father acknowledged that “in Mexico people often live in a situation of poverty,” combined also with “rich expressions in humanity, hospitality, brotherhood and solidarity.”

The Pope pointed out, however, that “these values are endangered with migration abroad, where many work in precarious conditions, in a state of defenselessness, facing with difficulty a cultural context different from their social and religious idiosyncrasy.”

The annual number of Mexican immigrants increased from 370,000 in 1995 to an expected 500,000 this year.

There are estimated 8.5 million Mexican-born immigrants in the United States; about 4 million entered illegally. Two-thirds of those undocumented immigrants are 14 to 22 years old.

“Wherever immigrants find a good reception in an ecclesial community, which supports them in their insertion in the new reality, this phenomenon is in a certain sense positive and even favors the evangelization of other cultures,” Benedict XVI affirmed.

North-south communion

Currently, Mexican Catholics are the primary cause of the numerical rise of the Catholic Church in the United States.

The Pope believes that the first Synod of Bishops of America, held in Rome in 1997, helped to launch a new ecclesial bond between the south and the north.

That assembly, the Holy Father said, focused in-depth on “the topic of migration,” helping to discover that, “beyond the economic and social factors, there is an appreciable unity that comes from a common faith, which fosters fraternal and solidaristic communion.”

“This is the fruit of various forms of presence and encounter with the living Jesus Christ, which have occurred and occur in the history of America,” he said. “Human mobility, then, is a pastoral priority in relations of cooperation with the Churches of North America.”

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