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Catholics nationwide push for immigration reform

Dioceses to hold Masses, pilgrimages, meetings with

legislators through October

WASHINGTON—Catholic dioceses across the country are holding events about the need for immigration reform. The events are meant to highlight the urgency of the issue and to show Congress the broad support in the Catholic community for immigration reform with a path to citizenship.
“Now is the time for Catholics to let their elected officials know that they support immigration reform,” said Archbishop José Gomez, archbishop of Los Angeles and chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Migration. “We are an immigrant Church and an immigrant nation. The Church has grown with the nation and since the beginning has helped integrate immigrants into our culture and economy.” Archbishop Gomez added, “Right now, our immigration system is broken. As a result, families are being broken apart and millions of people, including children, are being hurt. We need immigration reform to help our nation live up to its beautiful promise of equality and dignity for all people.”
Masses and events will be held in 22 states. Cities that held Masses and events beginning the weekend of Sept. 8 included Los Angeles; Brooklyn, New York; Chicago; San Francisco; Green Bay, Wisconsin; Tampa Bay, Florida; San Antonio, Texas; Cincinnati; St. Louis; Scranton, Pennsylvania; Miami; Hartford, Connecticut; Kansas City, Missouri; Kansas City, Kansas; Raleigh, North Carolina; Arlington, Virginia; Richmond, Virginia; Salt Lake City and Indianapolis, Indiana.
Other events during the two-month period include pilgrimages and educational events, such as public forums. Materials highlighting church teaching on immigration reform will be distributed in many dioceses. Bishops, diocesan officials and parish representatives also will be meeting with their House members to convey the Catholic Church’s position on immigration reform. Additional Masses and events will be announced as information becomes available.
A listing of scheduled events can be found at: www.justiceforimmigrants.org/documents/September-October-2013-Events.pdf
General information on the Catholic Church’s position on immigration can be found at: www.justiceforimmigrants.org


The summer of immigration groundwork: working toward passing a new law

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Members of Congress may be out of town and immigration reform legislation may be stuck until at least this fall, but the summer recess has been time for Catholic activists to rally their forces and pressure elected representatives.
The “Nuns on the Bus” tour revved up again in May and June, taking religious women on a 6,500-mile trip through 15 states. Over the course of 53 events in 40 cities, stretching from the Northeast across the South and to California, the sisters and others who joined them along the way talked about the need for a comprehensive approach to immigration reform. Gatherings of as many as several hundred people were held in church halls, congressional offices, social service agencies and at a Mexican border crossing.
In a more localized pilgrimage for immigration reform, Sacramento Bishop Jaime Soto on Aug. 12 blessed 11 pilgrims who were walking the 285 miles from Sacramento to Bakersfield, holding events along the way to talk about immigration. The 21-day Pilgrimage for a Pathway to Citizenship, planned by PICO National Network, a faith-based community organizing group, started at Sacramento’s National Shrine of our Lady of Guadalupe and has been making its way from one (mostly Catholic) church to another across central California’s agricultural valleys.
On the other side of the country, the Washington-based organization Faith in Public Life has spent the summer building coalitions at Catholic colleges and universities to work for immigration reform through letters, postcards and texts to members of Congress.
John Gehring, Catholic program director at Faith in Public Life, told Catholic News Service that the effort to target Catholics in Congress -- including House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and about 135 others -- is “a work in progress.”
Pelosi sent a reply -- the only one received so far, Gehring said -- saying the church’s call for immigration reform is not only rooted in Catholic teaching but in the nation’s history.
She said such fundamental beliefs shared by the university presidents and many Catholics “reflect the character of the American people and the message of so many faiths; to cherish the dignity of all human beings and to treat neighbors and strangers alike with respect.”
Bishop Joseph J. Tyson of Yakima, Wash., convened a group representing farmers, farm workers, law enforcement, academia, politics, lawyers and churches “to determine how best to promote understanding among the people of eastern Washington on immigration issues.”
And in what may be an optimistic bit of planning, CLINIC began inviting people from key organizations to its National Catholic Legalization Planning Conference in Silver Spring, Md., Sept. 30-Oct. 2.
The preliminary program agenda includes sessions on how a new immigration reform law might be implemented.

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