LOS ANGELES (CNS) — Archbishop Jose H. Gomez of Los Angeles called on Congress to “fix our broken immigration system” in his homily during the archdiocese’s annual “Mass in Recognition of All Immigrants” June 24.
In addition, Archbishop Gomez drew on the words of the readings to explain the importance of fighting for the lives and dignity of children and families.
“Brothers and sisters, we need to tell our leaders — no more ‘mananas,’ no more excuses. The time is now,” the archbishop said after mentioning that Congress might let another session go by without substantive immigration reform. “It makes no difference which political party is in power, there is always some excuse.”
Archbishop Gomez specifically mentioned the USA Act – “compromise legislation in Congress that the Catholic Church supports” — as a way forward.
“This bill has broad bipartisan support. It would permanently protect the Dreamers from deportation and provide them a path to become citizens. It would also strengthen security along our nation’s borders,” he said.
The Uniting and Securing America Act (USA) Act, sponsored by Reps. Denham and Pete Aguilar, D-California, would have granted permanent legal status to qualified Dreamers and provided for border improvements. (On June 27, House members rejected the measure by a vote of 121 to 301.)
In his homily, Archbishop Gomez also discussed the plight of immigrant families who had been separated after crossing the U.S.-Mexico border. “We have thousands of children in facilities that are hundreds of miles away from their parents. Our government says it will take months — months — before these little ones are reunited with their mothers and fathers.”
The archbishop did take care to remind the congregation that such policies are not new. “This injustice has been going on for a long time. It did not start with this administration. But it will not stop until good people end their silence and speak up for what is right.”
“We cannot ignore this any longer. And we cannot pretend that we are not all implicated,” he said.
Since the Mass was on the feast of St. John the Baptist, the archbishop quoted the reaction of the people to the birth of John from the day’s Gospel reading from Luke: “What, then, will this child be? For surely the hand of the Lord was with him. The child grew and became strong in spirit, and he was in the desert until the day of his manifestation to Israel.”
“My brothers and sisters, the word of God is a word of hope,” Archbishop Gomez said before invoking St. John the Baptist an example of how to “proclaim the love and mercy of God in these times when so many people feel angry and afraid.”
He concluded with an appeal to Mary: “May our Blessed Mother to be near to every child and every parent suffering separation along our borders this day. And may she help every one of us to share in the dream of America.”