MIAMI -- Miami Archbishop Thomas Wenski urged Congress Sunday to pass comprehensive immigration reform to allow 11 million undocumented immigrants to live and work legally in the country.
“The Church in the United States continues to call for a just and comprehensive immigration reform,” Wenski said in his homily during the Migration Mass at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Miami. “We call on Congress to pass immigration reform for the 11 million immigrants living here in irregular form.”
The hour-long Mass honored the cultural diversity of immigrants in South Florida and highlighted the Biblical story of the Magi, the Three Kings who traveled with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh for the child Jesus, born in a manger in Bethlehem.
In his sermon, Wenski compared Jesus and his parents to immigrants. “The Son of God is an immigrant from heaven who came here to live among us,” Wenski said. “This is a church without frontiers. We are all one family under God.”
Wenski, a longtime champion of immigration reform, noted the Catholic Church teaches “not to fear” and “not to mistreat” the migrant, and urged everyone to reflect on the need to help migrants and refugees. “Jesus’ family spent time as refugees,” Wenski said. “How then can we not see Jesus in the face of migrants and refugees?”
In 2013, the Senate passed a bill that would have granted immigration status to most of the 11 million undocumented immigrants in the country and a path to citizenship, but the legislation did not go anywhere because Republicans in the House of Representatives blocked the effort. In November, President Barack Obama issued an executive order providing temporary status to about 5 million undocumented immigrants as long as they have children who are citizens or residents of the United States and have no criminal record.
Besides Wenski 's homily, the Mass included an opening procession with Haitian immigrants dressed in traditional garb, as well as readings from scripture in Chinese, Creole and Vietnamese. Annette Decius read a passage from Ephesians in Creole, while Lan Nguyen read a passage from Isaiah in Vietnamese. Deacon Alex Lam read a passage in Chinese from Matthew about the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem and the arrival of the Magi, who arrived on Jan. 6 after following a star across the desert for 12 days.