A group of Catholic bishops celebrated a bilingual Mass at the U.S.-Mexico border in Arizona in remembrance of illegal immigrants who died trying to cross the border and to support immigration reform.
The Tuesday Mass, with the border fence as the backdrop, was led by Cardinal Sean O'Malley of Boston, Auxiliary Bishop Eusebio Elizondo of Seattle, Bishop Gerald F. Kicanas of Tuscon, Bishop Mark Seitz of El Paso, Bishop Oscar Cantu of Las Cruces, New Mexico, and others, the Los Angeles Times
"We know the border is lined with unmarked graves," O'Malley said. "They call them illegal aliens. We are here to say they are not forgotten. They are our neighbors. Our brothers. Our sisters. . . . You cannot love God without loving your neighbor."
O'Malley and other bishops toured the Arizona border for a week and said they were inspired by Pope Francis who during a trip to Lampedusa, Italy, prayed for those who died trying to immigrate to Europe by boat.
People attended the Mass on the U.S. and Mexico sides of the border. Those on the Mexican side were also offered Communion by bishops, who reached through the fence to give it to them.
The Catholic church is becoming increasingly more vocal about the need for immigration reform.
"The bishops are here to call attention to this ethical problem," O'Malley said, adding that reform efforts are "being held hostage" politicians.
Elizondo sent a letter to Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson last week, asking that the Obama administration make changes to immigration policy so families don't have to be separated, Arizona's KJZZ 91.5 reported
Catholic bishops and priests across the country made a push for immigration
reform from pulpits across the country in September.
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