Los Angeles Archbishop Calls for Prayer for Reform at Mass for Immigrants

Lily Nguyen-Ellis, 52, arrive at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in Los Angeles, California, with other pilgrims who walked 60 miles over three days from Orange County for a Mass for immigrants on Saturday, Sept. 7, 2019. RNS photo by Alejandra Molina

Roman Catholic Archbishop José H. Gomez delivered a message of unity at a Mass dedicated to immigrants Saturday (Sept. 7), urging Catholics to pray for those who are “trying to cause division in our country.”

Speaking in English and Spanish to the hundreds of people gathered at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, Gomez challenged them to talk to those “who disagree with us” and to “see things through their eyes.”

“For many years now, I’ve been saying that immigration is not just a political issue, it is a spiritual issue,” Gomez said. “Immigration is not only about borders between nations, it’s about overcoming barriers in the human heart … and accepting others.”

But Gomez made clear that the Mass had political goals as well.  “What a beautiful gift it would be if each one of us would start to pray the rosary every day for the healing of our country, for changes of our hearts … That will bring for sure comprehensive immigration reform,” Gomez said.

The Los Angeles archdiocese has hosted the Mass in Recognition of All Immigrants, held in collaboration with the Dioceses of Orange, San Bernardino and San Diego, since 2012.

During Mass, dozens of people  — from lawyers and translators to artists and activists — were recognized for their work in helping immigrants. Filmmaker Gregory Nava, who directed “El Norte,” a 1983 movie about Guatemalan siblings who flee persecution and trek through Mexico to start a life in the U.S. — was among those recognized. So was Angelica Salas, who heads the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights, or CHIRLA,  an immigrant rights group that serves Southern California.

Congregants prayed in a number of languages, including Tagalog and Vietnamese, for Syrian refugees and for families separated by borders. Attendees were largely Latino, but Korean, Filipino, and Vietnamese parishioners were also there.

The crowd also heard testimony from Daniela Luna, 20, who immigrated to the U.S. as an unaccompanied minor.

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Source: Religion News Service