Gómez: Deportations have to stop, and right now

Posted on 14. Jul, 2017 by in Action Alerts, Immigration

By both instinct and formation, Archbishop José Gómez of Los Angeles isn’t a man given to public displays of emotion. Born to middle class parents in Monterrey, Mexico, he trained as an accountant and even joined the Catholic group Opus Dei, whose members are usually noted more for sobriety and restraint than great fits of enthusiasm.

Yet in a Crux interview on July 2, Gómez found himself on the brink of tears discussing the impact of deportations of undocumented immigrants.

“Deportation destroys families, and the family is the basic structure of society,” said Gómez, who’s called for an immediate halt to deportations. “The suffering of children losing their parents is devastating.”

Asked if he’d witnessed that devastation with his own eyes, Gómez began to choke up.

“In the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, many times children don’t want to go to the Catholic schools because they think that their parents are not going to be home in the evening. They really suffer,” he said.

“In a few cases, I have been able to talk to kids who’ve lost their parents, and it’s devastating for them,” Gómez said. “To anybody, to lose your mother or father because they have no papers, it’s very painful, and it can even destroy society.”

The leader of the largest diocese in America by population argued that it’s long past time to pass an immigration reform measure that contains a pathway to legalization.

“We have eleven million undocumented people in this country, so let’s find a way that they’re able to continue participating in it,” he said. “I understand that people are afraid sometimes because [immigrant] people have committed crimes or things like that, but let’s find a solution. No matter what, people are still going to be moving.”

Gómez spoke to Crux during the “Convocation of Catholic Leaders,” a summit of almost 3,500 bishops, clergy, religious and laity staged July 1-4 in Orlando, Florida.

On other matters, Gómez said:

  • The ethnic transformation of the American church requires flexibility from everyone. He described the situation this way: “‘You have two Nigerian couples come to your parish, you welcome them, you receive them. You have a hundred coming,” he said, and people get nervous because “they change your parish.”
  • The lack of Latino/a voices in major Catholic debates such as the back-and-forth over Pope Francis’s document on the family, Amoris Laetitia, isn’t because they’re not interested, he said, but because for the most part they haven’t been empowered to join the conversation. In that part, he said, that’s because leadership positions in the Church generally require graduate education and often don’t offer competitive salaries, making them unattractive for people whose immediate concern in stabilizing their family.
  • He attributes an uptick in vocations to the priesthood and consecrated life in Los Angeles partly to the impact of Pope Francis. “I think it’s because Pope Francis really portrays to the young people the need for serving others, and making a difference in the world, just going out, listening to people and caring about people,” he said.
  • Gómez said he struggles not to be subsumed by the logistical requirements of managing such a sprawling archdiocese. “I think the answer is to give priority to my prayer life, my spiritual life, and then to ministry,” he said. “It’s a challenge, because the administrative demands are so big and immediate.”

Click here to read more, including the interview between Crux and Gomez.

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