Baltimore, Md., Nov 18, 2016 / 03:02 am (CNA/EWTN News).- In the wake of the presidential election Catholics must remember that immigration is a global issue involving real families, the new vice president of the U.S. bishops’ conference says.
“The important thing is, in the United States, we find the way to have immigration reform,” Archbishop José Gomez of Los Angeles told CNA in an interview on Tuesday. “I think it’s important for us as the leading country in the world is to find a solution to allow people to move, respecting the right of every country to protect their borders,” he continued. “Movements of people are happening all over the world.”
The archbishop spoke with CNA just after he was elected vice president of the U.S. bishops’ conference at their fall general assembly in Baltimore Nov. 15. He received 61 percent of the total bishops’ vote in the third round of votes. As Archbishop of Los Angeles, Gomez oversees the largest archdiocese in the U.S. and a large immigrant population. He headed the bishops’ migration committee before his election as vice president.
Speaking at an interreligious prayer service after the election of Donald Trump to the presidency, Archbishop Gomez called for prayer and peace, insisting he would continue to stand with undocumented immigrants fearful of being deported.
“Men and women are worried and anxious, thinking about where they can run and hide. This is happening tonight, in America,” he stated. “We need to be people of peace, people of compassion. Tonight we promise our brothers and sisters who are undocumented — we will never leave you alone.”
Catholics must better understand the plight of immigrant families, he said on Tuesday. “These people that move from one country to another are like us. They are fathers and mothers, children, brothers and sisters,” he said. “People move because they want to improve their lives, and especially the lives of their children. Any parent will do that,” he continued, noting the recent increase in the numbers of child migrants from Central America coming to the U.S.-Mexico border. “Immigration is families. And family is the foundation of society,” he said. “So Catholics need to understand that. And of course, the history of the Catholic Church, starting with the Holy Family; they migrated because they were in a very challenging situation.”
The archbishop reinforced his post-election call for peace on Tuesday, asking Catholics to pray and to serve others. “Obviously the first and most important things are prayers. We have to pray for our country. We pray for our government, the elected officials,” he said. Catholics must also remember that “we have a beautiful understanding of the human person, who we are as created by God,” he added.
“Once I understand that I am a child of God, and I understand that my goal is to serve my brothers and sisters, then we can make a big contribution for everybody in our country to strive for unity and respect for the human person.”
He also thanked his brother bishops upon his election “for trusting me and allowing me to serve them and the people of our country through the conference of bishops.”
When asked how he envisioned the Church’s future as vice president of the conference, he focused on the bishops’ strategic plan for 2017-20, particularly the first goal: evangelization. “So I think that’s what also Pope Francis is asking us to do, that we all become missionary disciples,” he said.” “I think we have a big challenge in our lives and in the United States because we need many more saints. In order to evangelize, we all need to be saints,” he insisted.