Papal biographer and well-known Catholic commentator George Weigel said two years ago that Cardinal Sean O’Malley and fellow bishops who celebrated Mass on the U.S.-Mexico border to urge immigration reform were “politicizing” the Mass.
Pope Francis also celebrated Mass this week at the border, referring to the “humanitarian crisis” of people needing to migrate north into the United States for survival and denouncing the building of walls to prevent them from doing so.
It’s not clear to me how holding a Mass in these circumstances can be anything other than politicized … and I’m not sure that that is the kind of discussion we need in the Church or the country about a problem that everyone is concerned about. No one is unconcerned about this, people have different views as to what the ultimate resolution of this should be, but to turn the Mass into an act of essentially political theater is something I thought we had gotten over in the Church no matter how noble the cause might be.
“I’ve said for years that the bishops of the United States should clarify whether they believe borders have any moral meaning, or whether they wish to take the position, for example, that The Wall St. Journal has taken for years, that there should be simply open borders,” Weigel added. “If you want to make that argument, you can make it … but it’s not clear to me that the principles behind a Catholic approach to the problem of immigration reform have been well articulated at all.”
In an interview with The Daily Beast, O’Malley, archbishop of Boston, said of Americans who are opposed to amnesty for illegal immigrants, “Obviously, the fear is not rational, and I think we are dealing with it in an irrational way.”
O’Malley, who was appointed by Pope Francis to serve on a council of cardinals, who advise him on Curial reform, reportedly said the “path to citizenship” for illegal immigrants is essential.
“If anything, the United States should capitalize on people’s desire to become part of this country,” the cardinal said. “They become great contributors.”
The cardinal, who also is chairman of the Committee on Pro-Life Activities for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), said if children grow up with the perception that their parents are “aliens,” they will grow resentful.
“The reason we have 11 million undocumented workers here is because we need them,” O’Malley said.