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In Mass at Mexican border, US bishops urge hospitality for immigrants

Catholic World News - April 01, 2014

Cardinal Sean O’Malley led a group of US bishops in celebrating Mass at the Mexican border on April 1, calling attention to the suffering of immigrants.

“The system is broken and is causing untold suffering and a terrible waste of resources, human and material,” said Cardinal O’Malley in his homily, delivered in Spanish. He had traveled to Nogales, Arizona, along with several other bishops, to dramatize the immigration problem. The US bishops’ conference continues to press for comprehensive immigration reform.

The bishops concelebrated Mass near the border fence, in a section that is notorious for illegal immigration. During the Eucharistic celebration, bishops administered Communion through the fence to dozens of people who had crowded on the Mexican side of the border for the Mass. Clearly following the example set by Pope Francis during his visit to the island of Lampedusa, they placed a wreath to honor the hundreds of people who have died seeking to enter the US. Cardinal O’Malley remarked that “the border is lined with unmarked graves of thousands who die alone and nameless.” In his homily the cardinal remarked that Samaritans were regarded by the Jewish people of Jesus’ time as aliens, yet the Good Samaritan became the Christ’s model for proper treatment of a neighbor. “We come here today to be a neighbor and to find a neighbor,” he said. He reminded the congregation of over 50 people: “The author of Hebrews urges us to practice hospitality, for through it some have unknowingly entertained angels.”

Cardinal O’Malley concelebrated the Mass with Bishops Oscar Cantu of Las Cruces, New Mexico; Eusebio Elizondo, an auxiliary of the Seattle archdiocese and chairman of the US bishops’ committeee on migration; Gerald Kicanas of Tucson, Arizona; Ricardo Ramirez, retired Bishop of Las Cruces; Mark Seitz of El Paso; John Wester of Salt Lake City, and Luis Zarama, an auxiliary of Atlanta.

Al Melvin, a Catholic who is campaigning for the Republican nomination in the race to become governor of Arizona, criticized the bishops’ presence, saying that they were “irresponsible” to encourage immigrants. “They are not bringing stability to the border,” he said. “They are adding to the chaos of the border.”

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  • Posted by: unum - Apr. 02, 2014 9:40 AM ET USA

    What are the bishops trying to teach faithful Catholics? Is it social justice or disrespect for civil laws? The bishops message on the moral issues involved in illegal immigration have been muddled and politicized leading to the confusion of the laity. Do the bishops support La Raza's positions for open borders or do they support the rule of law involving just laws? The people in the pews are waiting for someone to "teach as Jesus did".

  • Posted by: loumiamo7154 - Apr. 01, 2014 7:22 PM ET USA

    It is interesting to me that neither our Phoenix bishop nor our auxiliary bishop was there. Don't know the reason, but they were not on the list. But Jesus said, didn't He, to give Caesar what is his, except in regard to immigration law. Right? Didn't Jesus say that?

  • Posted by: Contrary1995 - Apr. 01, 2014 6:37 PM ET USA

    Cardinal Sean, ironically enough, has become an airpot bishop.

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