February 24, 2017
I am writing this week from Modesto, where I am attending a conference sponsored by the Vatican.

It is the US regional meeting of the World Meeting of Popular Movements. This is a project initiated by Pope Francisco several years ago. Seeks to bring together leaders of the Church advocates of social justice, to start building friendships and find new ways to meet the challenges that prevail in society. Previous meetings have taken place in Rome and in Bolivia.

Auxiliary Bishop David G. O’Connell Modesto accompanied me, and it ‘s always nice to see my friends Mission Dolores, of our local parishes and our unions.

There are here more than 700 people across the country and around the world and the conversations we are having are full of challenges and illuminations. We discussed the persistence of racial discrimination, threats to our natural environment and the fight for affordable housing and jobs that pay a living wage in a dignified manner.

Pope Francis himself sent a special letter, which was read to us by Cardinal Peter Turkson, who is head of the Vatican office for Integral Human Development. In his message, the Pope spoke emphatically about the need to overcome an “economy of exclusion”.

This meeting is a reminder of the power of the social doctrine of the Church again. As I have said before, the Gospel of Jesus Christ offers us a beautiful view of human dignity and the sanctity of life. And he calls us to build a society in which the good things of God’s creation are shared by all.

This is our daily task as Christians share our bread with the hungry, provide shelter for the homeless, clothe the naked, open our hearts to the oppressed and the afflicted.

But our challenge goes beyond the material and consists of something more to offer charity to the needy. We are called to build a society of compassion, justice, truth and love. And, as the Pope reminded us in his message, that means helping people to engage and become “actors” in the beautiful work of building a new society.

My own contribution during these days has been to focus on the issue of immigration. I was privileged to participate in a round table to discuss the issue of migration with Jesuit Father Michael Czerny, papal secretary of Integral Human Development office for migrants and refugees.

In the comments I made, I shared our experience here in Los Angeles, and especially the challenges we face with the new administration in Washington. This is a question that is on everyone’s mind: what we are doing to help our immigrant communities and our brothers and sisters who are undocumented.

And we’re trying to help every day in every way. Because immigrants are not numbers are not statistics; they are our family.

We have been organizing parish teams and we have trained individuals to know their rights as immigrants. We have been helping prepare families so they know what to do in case of arrest by the authorities. And we are trying to mobilize immigration lawyers to help those in detention.

We have put together many resources for people on our website: .

I think at this time it is important that we stick together, we strengthen one another and that we keep our eyes fixed on Jesus.

And I think it’s important to keep calm and we make our judgments based on facts, not politics.

Unfortunately, immigration raids and deportations are nothing new. We know this well. They did not start with this new president. We need to have a clear view on this.

The former president has deported more people than any other president in US history: more than 2.5 million people were deported during his eight years in office. Most of them were not violent criminals and many of them were ordinary parents who were arrested in their homes and forced to leave behind their children and their spouses.

Therefore, we have to keep that in perspective. What we really need is immigration reform.

There are bipartisan legislation in Congress “Law Bridge”. This would help hundreds of thousands of young people known as “dreamers”.We need this bill passed. I urge you to go to our website to learn more about it and to find out how you can help: .

We have to start from there and then we have to keep working, step by step, until we have settled all aspects of our broken immigration system.

We need to keep our eyes on the prize, and the prize is immigration reform and a compassionate solution for those who are undocumented and are forced to live in the shadows of our society.

So pray for me this week, I’ll be praying for you. And let us ask Our Lady of Guadalupe to help us continue remaining united and work to build a society in which respect the dignity that everyone is a child of God. VN

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