If you attend Mass on September 8th, it is likely the priest’s homily will be less about spiritual matters and more about the political imperative of passing an amnesty law for the nation’s 11 million illegal immigrants. Last week, the Catholic Church announced a massive, coordinated effort to press Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform, including a pathway to citizenship. Catholics make up the largest single religious group in Congress.
“We want to try to pull out all the stops,” Kevin Appleby, the director of migration policy at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, told the New York Times. Appleby said the immigration issue was at a now-or-never moment. “They have to hear the message that we want this done, and if you’re not successful during the summer, you’re not going to win by the end of the year.”
The Church is planning advertising, phone calls and marches targeting 60 Catholic House Republicans. Over 130 members of the House are Catholic, including Speaker John Boehner.
The Church’s effort in support of amnesty seems broader and more coordinated than its actions against an ObamaCare mandate requiring coverage of contraception. In recent years, the Church has been more vocal in its criticism of abortion, but even that seems muted in comparison with current plans on immigration reform.
Bishops and priests in the major dioceses in the country will coordinate their messages and homilies throughout September. More than a dozen have committed to holding special Masses or other events on September 8th, the day before Congress returns from recess.
Hispanics now make up the the largest single demographic group in the Catholic Church. This was a contributing factor in the election of Pope Francis, the first Pontiff from the Americas. In a way, the Church’s efforts to pass amnesty legislation is tending to its base congregation.
Catholic Democrat Rep. Dan Lipinski expressed skepticism about the Church’s efforts. “There are some issues that the church speaks authoritatively on, such as abortion, in protecting life,” Lipinski told the Times. “And then there are prudential judgments that are made, informed by Catholic theology, but it’s not something that Catholics are required to follow.”