Tucson, Ariz., Oct 26, 2016 / 12:22 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Catholic unity transversed the border on Sunday when Archbishop Christophe Pierre, the new apostolic nuncio to the U.S., celebrated Mass at Arizona’s border with Mexico. “His decision to join us is a reminder that this is an issue very important to our Holy Father,” said Bishop Gerald F. Kicanas of Tucson, the Associated Press reports.
The Mass was celebrated Sunday afternoon near the Port of Entry in downtown Noagles, Ariz. About 250 people attended the Mass from the U.S. side, while it was unclear how many attended on the Mexico side. Previous Masses have included the distribution of Holy Communion through the border fence, but border patrol officers did not allow this on Sunday.
Bishop Kicanas said the Oct. 23 Mass aimed to bring attention to immigrants and refugees. “The economic migrant is not a criminal. The economic migrant is someone seeking a decent way of life for themselves, for their family,” he said.
The Mass also aimed to highlight the close relationship between the neighboring dioceses. Prayers were said at the Mass for border patrol agents and those who work around the border. It was the last of three Masses organized by the group Dioceses Sin Fronteras, also known as Dioceses without Borders. The organization aims to broaden awareness of the need to treat people on both sides of the border with dignity and respect, “in the spirit of faith,” the Diocese of Tucson said.
The previous two Masses on the border were concelebrated by Bishop Kicanas and Bishop Jose Leopold Gonzalez of Noagles in Mexico’s Sonora state. They had invited the apostolic nuncio to celebrate the Mass. Archbishop Pierre had served as apostolic nuncio to Mexico from 2007 through 2016. Pope Francis named him to his new post in the U.S. this April.
During the Pope’s trip to Mexico in February 2016, the pontiff visited the U.S. border at Ciudad Juarez and looked out over the Rio Grande River from a memorial built to commemorate those who have died along the Mexican border.