Archbishop José Gomez of Los Angeles read aloud the letters of children of illegal aliens that were addressed to Pope Francis and collected by a coalition of groups seeking rights for illegal immigrants. Gomez said he hoped the letters would challenge the consciences of Americans.
As a Catholic News Agency report in the National Catholic Register indicated on January 17th, Gomez discussed what the report said were “heartfelt letters to Pope Francis seeking his help and his prayers for their parents who have been deported or arrested.”
“They know that Pope Francis himself is the son of an immigrant. They know that he has the heart to understand what they are going through,” Gomez said. He added that reading the children’s letters “makes my heart ache.”
“They are so beautiful and so sad,” he told the civic group Town Hall Los Angeles.
A letter from Karla, a 15-year old girl born in Los Angeles, told Pope Francis she has a “very religious” family. Both her parents and her two older siblings are immigrants from Mexico.
“My mom is slowly going blind, and my dad has a heart problem. My sister is in a wheelchair, and she needs medical help, but they can’t get the medical help they need because they don’t have their legal documents,” she said.
“I know there are more people with the same or even worse situation. Some kids even younger than me have been separated from their parents and family,” Karla added. “I ask you to keep me and my family in your prayers.”
Karla also asked the Pope to pray for President Barack Obama, “so he can stop all deportation.”
Another young girl, Guadalupe, asked for the Pope’s help “to stop deporting families and separating families, because it’s sad to see kids be separated from their parents and the kids ending up as orphans.”
“I hope you can help us with this fight. You are our hope for all the families getting separated,” the girl told Pope Francis. She said she knew how it feels to be separated from her father, who died in October 2013.
Breitbart News spoke with Martha Ugarte, a spokesperson for the coalition of immigration rights groups.
“We are a coalition of different organizations over the years that have been trying to get immigration reform in the spotlight,” she told Breitbart News. “We work with churches for marches and immigration rights, but we’re not directly associated with the Church.”
Ugarte said the children wrote the letters as part of an activity in which “the coalition asked them if they would like to express their feelings in the letters.”
“The coalition is in contact with the parents of these children,” Ugarte said. “These kids are American citizens. They can speak up but their parents cannot. The kids sometimes don’t know if their parents are going to be deported.”
“Many of the immigrants feel the new pope has brought new hope,” she continued. “He is taking on all the hard issues and we’d like him to take on immigration reform in the United States.”
Ugarte said her coalition has had the children write letters to the pope in the past, as well as to President Obama and Santa Claus.
The children’s letters were collected by the coalition and brought to the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in Los Angeles.
Gomez said he would forward the letters to Pope Francis.
“My friends, this is what immigration is doing to the soul of our country,” Gomez said. “How we respond to these children is a challenge to our conscience — and it will be a measure of our humanity.”