Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Bishops celebrate Mass along Mexico border

NOGALES, Ariz. — Roman Catholic leaders made a rare visit to the border and celebrated Mass on Tuesday in the shadow of the fence separating the United States and Mexico, offering Holy Communion through the steel barrier to people on the Mexican side as they sought to bring attention to the plight of immigrants.

Cardinal Sean O'Malley, the leader of the Boston Archdiocese, led a delegation of bishops from around the country and Mexico in the trip to the border, less than a week after President Barack Obama discussed immigration reform in a meeting with Pope Francis. They toured the border city of Nogales, walked along a notorious section of the border that was once a popular crossing point for drug and immigrant smugglers, and celebrated Mass just a few feet from the fence.

The Catholic leaders believe that immigration is a humanitarian issue that deserves urgent attention by Congress. They cite the dozens of immigrants who die each year in the brutal desert terrain while trying to cross illegally into the United States along the roughly 2,000-mile-long border with Mexico and note that the immigrants are simply trying to find better lives in America.

"This is not just a political or economic problem," O'Malley said Tuesday. "This is a moral problem."

Several hundred people attended the Mass, which was translated into Spanish, and a few dozen people peered through the border fence from Mexico to watch the ceremony. O'Malley and Bishop Gerald Kicanas of the Tucson Diocese offered Holy Communion through the fence, providing people in Mexico wafers as a blessing as some of the recipients broke down in tears.

During the Mass, the clergymen laid a wreath at the border wall to remember those who have died. It followed a similar event in Lampedusa, Italy, last year when the pope threw a wreath into the Mediterranean Sea to remember migrants who have died attempting to reach Europe.

The push for immigration reform in Congress has been stalled for months, with Democrats and Republicans unable to reach an agreement over the divisive issue.

House Democrats last week tried to force a vote on a comprehensive immigration bill, an effort that is likely to fail given Republican reluctance to address the topic in an election year while all signs point to major gains for the GOP in the November midterms.

The Senate passed a comprehensive bill last June, but the measure stalled in the GOP-controlled House, where Republicans have argued for a piecemeal approach to reforming the system.

Bishops celebrate Mass along Mexico border 04/01/14 [Last modified: Wednesday, April 2, 2014 1:13am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. For good of the Rays, Tim Beckham should embrace move to second

    The Heater

    PITTSBURGH — The acquisition of slick-fielding shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria said a lot of things, most notably that the Rays are serious about making in-season moves to bolster their chances to make the playoffs, with a reliever, or two, next on the shopping list.

    Adeiny Hechavarria is quick to make his presence felt.
  2. St. Petersburg showdown: Kriseman faces Baker for first time tonight at the Rev. Louis Murphy Sr.'s church

    Local Government

    A standing-room-only crowd packed a Midtown church banquet hall Tuesday to witness the first face-off between Mayor Rick Kriseman and former mayor Rick Baker in what is a watershed mayoral contest in the city's history.

    Former Mayor Rick Baker, left, is challenging incumbent Mayor Rick Kriseman, right, to become St. Petersburg mayor.
  3. At College World Series, the save goes to an LSU dad/doctor

    College

    OMAHA, Neb. — The father of LSU pitcher Jared Poche' helped revive an 87-year-old man who was slumped on the TD Ameritrade Park concourse with no pulse during Game 1 of the College World Series finals.

    UF’s Tyler Dyson delivers against LSU in Tuesday’s late CWS Game 2. Go to tampabay.com/sports.
  4. Plant City police searching for drive-by shooter

    News

    PLANT CITY — Crime Stoppers of Tampa Bay is offering a reward for information leading to an arrest in an early morning drive-by shooting outside a home.

    John J. Keeper, 49, was shot in the thigh in a drive-by shooting early Tuesday outside this home at 516 E Laura St. in Plant City. [Hillsborough County Property Appraiser]
  5. FSU-Tulane coming to Amalie Arena in December

    Blogs

    Florida State basketball is coming to Tampa.