Pope Benedict XVI - Essays and Reflections on His Papacy

Ambassador Johnny Young

Ambassador Johnny Young

“Pope Benedict’s understanding of migration is rooted in his conviction that God’s love extends to all people, particularly those who are the most vulnerable: the unaccompanied minor, the trafficking victim, the refugee and the migrant far from home.” —from the essay “Migration: A Sign of the Times” by Ambassador Johnny Young

A Talk with Ambassador Johnny Young, author of “Migration: A Sign of the Times” from Benedict XVI: Essays and Reflections on His Papacy

Q. How has Pope Benedict linked his papacy to the church’s duty to “scrutinize the signs of the times and interpret them in the light of the Gospel” as declared by the Second Vatican Council?

A. Pope Benedict has been steadfast and unflinching in his call to the faithful, as well as all others, to eschew the temptations and pressures of materialism, greed, selfishness and other evils of these modern times and to treat migrants and refugees in a manner consistent with Catholic teachings. He continues to call for the treatment of migrants with compassion, understanding and true Christian charity.

Q. What is the Pope’s view of migration and immigration issues around the globe?

A. Pope Benedict’s view is that we have an individual and universal responsibility to treat the migrant as we would if we were welcoming Christ himself. His call has also extended to governments, urging them to enact policies and procedures to ensure fair, decent, compassionate treatment of migrants and refugees.

Q. What does the Pope see as the Church’s responsibility to migrants?

A. Individually and collectively as the Church, Pope Benedict has consistently reminded us that we have a moral responsibility rooted in the biblical foundations of our faith to welcome the stranger. He has made it clear that this moral imperative applies to what States must do as well.

Q. What does the Pope think about the immigration debate in the U.S.?

A. Pope Benedict has been very clear in calling on the United States to do the right thing in terms of its immigrants and the challenges it faces with the undocumented. He spoke out on this issue while on the plane en route to the United States for his historic 2008 visit. While at different venues on the visit, he also reminded the United States of its generous past history in the treatment of migrants and called for a continuation of that generosity.

Ambassador Johnny Young is executive director of the USCCB’s Office of Migration and Refugee Services 


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“For Pope Benedict, love encompasses the whole of human existence. Man needs to both give love and receive it as a gift.”

Maria Del Mar Muñoz-Visoso