Friday, March 03, 2006

Friction in LA

So Cardinal Mahony's crusade for immigrants is playing to mixed reviews:
While many Catholics hailed the cardinal's remarks, delivered on the first day of the Lenten season at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in downtown Los Angeles, others expressed anger that he injected politics into a religious service....

The remarks drew several "nasty and emotion-filled" calls to the archdiocese Wednesday from callers demanding harsh measures against undocumented immigrants, according to archdiocese spokesman Tod Tamberg. But they did not deter Mahony from reiterating his message to a multicultural crowd of 3,000 at the noontime service, just a day before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee prepared to open debate on immigration reform proposals.

Wearing a red skullcap and purple robes, Mahony told the congregants that the church did not support unfettered immigration, but a solution to what he called a broken system. Then he outlined five principles for immigration reform developed in a national "Justice for Immigrants" campaign by the U.S. Catholic Conference of Bishops and other church organizations.

They include more visas for family members of migrants to reduce what can be decades-long waits to reunify; a guest worker program with a path to permanent residency; better legal processes to guarantee immigrant rights; legalization of undocumented migrants; and economic development in poor countries to reduce the need to migrate.

"The church has always been in the forefront of welcoming waves of immigrants," Mahony said, reminding congregants of their own probable immigrant roots. "This has been a constant theme of the church since the 1700s."

He asked congregants to use the Lenten season to open their hearts to Jesus Christ, each other and immigrants.

"There seems to be strident voices that are very much anti-immigrant," he said. "But here in Los Angeles, we have such an enormous diversity of people … each one of you is a gift and a blessing."