In late June, the United States Senate, through a bi-partisan collaboration, passed their version of a comprehensive immigration bill. Speaking on behalf of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, Archbishop Jose Gomez of Los Angeles reaffirmed that this was commendable, but that there is still work to do.1 He is right. In the coming weeks the House of Representatives will return from their summer recess bearing the responsibility for proposing and debating their own immigration bill.
Understanding the role of migration in our faith tradition, and seeing the implications that migration has for living a dignified life, the Church has stood on the side of the immigrant community during the journey for comprehensive immigration reform. In the document “Strangers No Longer: Together on the Journey of Hope,” the bishops from the US and Mexico presented a guideline for how political leaders and people of faith and good will should act when reflecting on this debate:
We seek to measure the interest of all parties in the migration phenomenon against the guidelines of Catholic social teaching and to offer a moral framework for embracing, not rejecting, the reality of migration…We invite Catholics and persons of good will… to exercise their faith and to use their resources and gifts to truly welcome the stranger amongst us (cf. Mt 25:35) (7)2
In response to calls like this, the Archdiocese of Chicago and the Office of Immigrant Affairs are introducing a “40-Days of Prayer, Fasting and Action for Congress.” This campaign, developed from a planning meeting in July amongst 120 parishioners from 32 parishes in the Archdiocese, seeks to offer the time and space for unity amongst the church to pray, reflect, and act in solidarity with our immigrant brothers and sisters. Parishes throughout the Archdiocese have been committing themselves to prayer, fasting, and action of their choosing during this period, and we invite all people of faith and good will to engage their communities and join us. You can either talk to your parish to see what actions they have committed to, or you can go to www.archchicago.org/Immigration/ to view suggestions that were formulated during the July meeting.
The campaign will start at the Archdiocesan level on Thursday, August 15, with a pilgrimage and mass in conjunction with the Our Lady of Mercy parish community. The pilgrimage will begin at Our Lady of Mercy Church (4432 N. Troy St., Chicago) at 6:00 p.m. We will walk less than a mile to Rosana Park (Sacramento and Ainslie Streets in Chicago) where we will celebrate mass starting around 6:45 p.m. All are invited! We will end our campaign with a pilgrimage on October 12. Please look out for more information as the date nears.
To learn more about the Bishops’ stance, please visit: www.justiceforimmigrants.org/bishops-call.shtml. The passage of the Senate bill is a victory for advocates for immigrant justice, but our prayers and voices are needed to ensure that comprehensive immigration reform will be made into law.