21 May 2012

Pope supports US immigration efforts

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Pope Benedict XVI spoke in favour of US immigration reform as he praised American Catholics' efforts to embrace immigrants.

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Pope Benedict XVI has spoken in favour of US immigration reform.

Speaking at a meeting with American bishops last week, Pope Benedict praised the American Catholic Church's efforts to help and assist immigrants arriving in the US in a statement supporting reform of the US immigration system.

"The Catholic community in the United States continues, with great generosity, to welcome waves of new immigrants, to provide them with pastoral care and charitable assistance, and to support ways of regularising their situation, especially with regard to the unification of families," said Pope Benedict.

"A particular sign of this is the long-standing commitment of the American bishops to immigration reform."

Reform of the US immigration system is one of the most-debated topics in the upcoming presidential election. Second only to the economy, immigration is regarded as the potential 'wedge issue' which could decide the election.

President Obama has promised wholesale immigration reform if he is re-elected yet, as he made the same promise prior to taking office in 2008, many doubt his intentions. Meanwhile, his likely opponent in November, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, has favoured a harder line on immigration throughout the primary.

Pope Benedict joins leaders of both the Lutheran and Mormon churches in supporting reform of the US immigration system, which have both advocated their support of fairer treatment for illegal immigrants and criticised attempts to break up families.

Mr Romney, himself a Mormon, has used his religion as a basis for his opposition to same-sex marriage in recent weeks but it is not known what effect, if any, his seemingly opposing views to both the Vatican and his own church's views on immigration will have.

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