Pope Francis is visiting Mexico in February of 2016. On the 17th, he is expected to bring his pilgrimage to a conclusion by making his way to the border city of Juarez (borders El Paso, TX).
The Catholic Diocese of El Paso released details of the Pope’s visit this morning (the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe) and shared that planning is underway to organize a Papal Mass at the border!
El Paso’s Bishop Mark J. Seitz explains, “I am presently in conversation with our local civic leaders about celebrating Mass with Pope Francis at the border fence along Loop 375/César Chávez Highway which will include the faithful on both sides of the border. The details of this liturgy are still being developed, and we hope to be able to communicate more information very soon.”
The Diocese of El Paso also shared a release from Catholic Extension which states in part, “Pope Francis’ plan to celebrate Mass at the border is expected to draw millions of pilgrims from both the U.S. and Mexico and will be a significant milestone of the trip’s itinerary. The details of the liturgy are being finalized and will be unveiled in the coming weeks.”
This is all fantastic news to receive on this feast of Our Lady. (We have shared some thoughts on the Subversive Love of Our Lady of Guadalupe already.)
Certainly, Francis will draw attention to the plight of the poor, the stranger in our midst. The least of these who run from violence and destitution are constantly being turned away by us in the United States, even when we promote the policies that contribute to root causes of their having to emigrate.
A Papal Mass at the Border! How lovely! God’s love knows no border, and yet we separate and divide – deny the other the embrace they need and, as a result, deny Christ.
Last year in March some Bishops from Mexico and the United States celebrated the Eucharist at the border.
A Catholic cardinal and several bishops held a bilingual Mass at the border dividing Nogales, Ariz., and Nogales, Mex., on Tuesday. The Catholic clergy are calling on Congress to fix the broken immigration system.
The Mass recognized migrants who died trying to cross the border. It drew hundreds of people, including those who watched through the border fence from Mexico.
Cardinal Seán O’Malley of Boston told media afterwards that the rule of law must prevail, but the laws must change if they violate God-given rights.
“We can no longer tolerate the human suffering caused by this broken system,” O’Malley said. “Families are separated, migrant workers are exploited, and tragically human beings are dying on both sides of this wall.”
Yet, we hear the ‘elite’ rebuke the Bishops for having celebrated the Eucharist at the border last year, saying they were “politicizing the Mass” (with negative connotation), as if the Word Made Flesh only has political ramifications for the conservative cause – whatever that may be. It’s time we all unite in working for the liberation of the oppressed around the globe. Before we conclude, watch how the Gospel of Justice and Mercy seems to be watered down and mocked here:
Let’s conclude by considering the words of Pope Francis as he reflects on Our Lady of Guadalupe, offered at a general audience on 11 December of 2013:
When Our Lady appeared to Saint Juan Diego, her face was that of a woman of mixed blood, a mestiza, and her garments bore many symbols of the native culture. Like Jesus, Mary is close to all her sons and daughters; as a concerned mother, she accompanies them on their way through life. She shares all the joys and hopes, the sorrows and troubles of God’s People, which is made up of men and women of every race and nation.
When the image of the Virgin appeared on the tilma of Juan Diego, it was the prophecy of an embrace: Mary’s embrace of all the peoples of the vast expanses of America – the peoples who already lived there, and those who were yet to come. Mary’s embrace showed what America – North and South – is called to be: a land where different peoples come together; a land prepared to accept human life at every stage, from the mother’s womb to old age; a land which welcomes immigrants, and the poor and the marginalized, in every age. A land of generosity.
That is the message of Our Lady of Guadalupe, and it is also my message, the message of the Church. I ask all the people of the Americas to open wide their arms, like the Virgin, with love and tenderness.
What does the Church teach on immigration? Until next time,