Last Tuesday some Catholic bishops hosted a mass at the Arizona border with Mexico that largely was a plea for legalizing the 11 million or so illegal immigrants in the U.S. They focused on illegal immigrants who perish while surreptitiously crossing the desert. Cardinal Sean O’Malley gave a moving homily.
“We come to the desert today because it is the road to Jericho; it is traveled by many trying to reach the metropolis of Jerusalem,” O’Malley said. “We come here today to be a neighbor and to find a neighbor in each of the suffering people who risk their lives and at times lose their lives in the desert.”
Recalling his own Irish ancestors, O’Malley warned: “America at its best is not the bigotry and xenophobia of the no nothings [sic], but the generous welcome of the New Colossus, that mighty woman with a Torah, the Statue of Liberty, the Mother of Exiles...”
And O’Malley continued: “We must be vigilant that lamp continues to burn brightly.” Indeed. But are the policy choices really so stark as the implied divide between hospitable Samaritans and 19th Century chauvinistic Know Nothings?