Pope Francis has awoken the faith of Catholics worldwide. His passion and love for his fellow-man has inspired people of every culture, and of varied religions worldwide. The Pope does not lead by word alone, but by example which has inspired many. So when the Pope took the lead on immigration issues in Italy, Catholic leaders in the US took to the American border to put a face to the issue here at home.
Thousands seek asylum on a tiny island just 70 miles from Africa every year. Lampedusa is the hopeful refuge for those hoping for a better life. Much like the border towns along the Southwest, hundreds die trying to seek refuge from third world circumstances. Pope Francis took to St. Peter’s Square to call upon powerful nations to help immigrants worldwide. He asked Christian nations to remember their founding principles of origin in welcoming the needy and downtrodden. The Pope laid a wreath in the waters off the coast of Italy honoring the thousands that have died trying to seek a better life in Europe. Taking the lead from Francis, Cardinal Sean O’Malley led a mass along the border town of Nogales. The bishops from the Archdiocese of Boston held vigil for those who have perished in a quest for freedom and hope worldwide.
In a ceremony celebrated by the hopeful on both sides of the fence, holy communion was given to hundreds through wood and steel beams. The mass, which was given in english and spanish, honored those who have lost lives along the border. Men and women cried tears of anguish as the sacraments were given. Reaching through the beams; hundreds of catholic faithful prayed for salvation in the desert town. Speaking on the issue of immigration as a humanitarian cause, Cardinal O’Malley called upon all who call themselves christians to live up to the tenets of Jesus. O’Malley argued that immigration is not a political or economic problem, but a moral problem.
The Pope met with President Obama this week to express the importance of aiding men and women in such time of desperation. If one is willing to give their life in hopes of a better one, then a nation should welcome those in the darkest hours of need. Speaking to the leader of a nation built on the backs of those escaping the homelands that had forsaken them. Pope Francis has called upon catholics to lead the charge of immigration reform in the US. As the issue has stalled in legislation by those unwilling to anger the political base, the Pope expressed the importance of not hiding behind the veil of religion as an excuse not to help one’s fellow-man. The idea that one of faith could use religion as an excuse to work against the words of Jesus is unsettling, said Pope Francis. He continued, the reasoning defies logic as the Bible is very clear on our duties to each other and women. Francis requested a more open dialog on immigration while speaking with President Obama. He expressed the importance of using less alienating words such as illegal immigrants and aliens which devalues human beings.
In a nation created and filled by immigrants, the issue of immigration has somehow become divisive. The conservatives have stalled various legislative actions in efforts to bypass picking sides that might anger voters in an election year. With over a million and a half deportations during his time in office, Obama has expressed that he has only followed the rules of law currently in place and in which he had taken an oath to uphold. Yet, his reasoning does not bring hope to the millions who face being separated from loved ones already deported. The Dream Act has been the only hope for so many ripped apart from young children and parents. The lack of immigration reform has isolated entire communities. Without the ability to find work many are turning to other means, such as criminal activity, in order to survive. Some argue the issue is simply too difficult to repair in a single law and look to fixes done in piece meal. Yet the slow action by law makers has caused a wedge in efforts to secure general agreement among voters.
The Pope has called upon the world to act on a moral compass; expressing that borders are only instruments of division separating man from God’s given earth. Yet in a fully divisive political field the future does not look hopeful for proponents of immigration reform. However, if anyone can make a successful call to action in this divided nation the leader of peace might be the only hope. Pope Francis has asked US catholics to lead his call to action in closing the divide on border issues.
Opinion by Kimberly Beller