Pope Francis has again pulled out the party trick in which he makes people uncomfortable by referring to the actual word of Jesus, reminding “Christians” the world over — and in America, specifically — to be kind to children, specifically migrant children.
In recent months, Pope Francis has spoken out against American evangelical culture in a mostly indirect but pointed way, and an unkind reception for an influx of migrant kids is the subject of His Holiness’ latest spiritual guidance.
In a letter read yesterday on Vatican radio, Pope Francis says that migrant children in particular are in need of love, care, shelter, and food, echoing the unpopular and poorly received words of Glenn Beck last week urging fellow Americans to reach out to migrant kids at the border.
After announcing a plan to provide border children with hot meals, teddy bears, and soccer balls, Beck explained that the pushback for his Christian plan had been violent and angry — but he brushed off the criticism:
“Everybody is telling me I’m seeing subscriptions down; I’m seeing Mercury One donations down… I’m getting violent emails from people who say I’ve ‘betrayed the Republic.’ Whatever. I’ve never taken a position more deadly to my career than this — and I have never, ever taken a position that is more right than this.”
It would seem Pope Francis agrees with the pundit, and His Holiness is not ambiguous in his spiritual direction to Christians:
“[The influx of migrant children is] increasing day by day… The humanitarian emergency requires, as a first urgent measure, these children be welcomed and protected.”
Noting that immigrating “has now become a hallmark of our society and a challenge,” the Pope adds:
“Many people forced to emigrate suffer, and often die, tragically; many of their rights are violated, they are obliged to separate from their families and, unfortunately, continue to be the subject of racist and xenophobic attitudes.”
Of course, the Pope’s call for compassion was not heeded by many:
— Lara (LAIR-A) (@LHayes86) July 15, 2014
The Vatican’s secretary of state Cardinal Pietro Parolin also commented on the Pope’s words, saying:
“Whether they are traveling because of poverty, or violence, or with the hope of reuniting with relatives on the other side of the border, it is urgent to protect them and help them because their vulnerability is greater and they are defenseless against any abuse or misfortune.”
According to TIME, the unaccompanied children referenced by Pope Francis number just under sixty thousand, nearly double the number who crossed into the U.S. last year.
[Image: Pope Francis, Natemat]