Cardinal Sean O’Malley often called the “American Francis” because of his closeness to the popular pope has sharply criticized “deportation mania” in
the Obama administration and among politicians.
He has compared support for immigration reform to backing for pro-life issues sharply raising the priority of the issue in the Catholic Church.
O’Malley spoke to Boston Globe religion editor John Allen after the Mass at the Mexican border on Tuesday morning where images of him giving out communion through a border fence were visually compelling.
Speaking to Allen in the interview carried in Sunday’s Boston Globe O’Malley stated “We need to roll back the deportation mania that’s taken place in the last couple of years. We need to rethink these detentions centers that are costly, unnecessary, and very often penalize people who are not criminals.
“We need to do something about quotas, making it easier for people to come. There are segments of our economy that depend on immigrant labor, and that should be recognized in the law rather than forcing people to enter illegally, which often means they’re exploited and in competition with American laborers.
Speaking of why Catholics need to be far more vocal in support of immigration reform O’Malley stated: “We’re not only a nation of immigrants, we’re an immigrant church. Many of our families had very difficult challenges when they came to America, so we should identify with the suffering of these people. Pope Francis’ term [about attitudes towards migrants], the “globalization of indifference,” is a very apt way to describe how people have allowed themselves to turn a blind eye to the human suffering and the tragedies that are taking place.
Asked by Allen if “a Catholic in good faith has to support immigration reform? O’Malley stated “I think so, yes.”
O’Malley went so far as to compare it to the anti abortion issue. “This is another pro-life issue. Although the pro-life activities of the bishops’ conference are perhaps better known, what the conference does around immigration is huge.
Asked by Allen if the criticism that undocumented had broken the law to come here was justified O’Malley responded:
“The law is inadequate and unjust. As a country we depend upon immigrant labor, so we can’t penalize them when they respond to our needs.
O’Malley stated the enormously popular pope was fully behind the effort:
“The Holy Father is always talking about going to the periphery, about taking care of each other and being responsible for those who are suffering and poor, and that message is resonating with people because our culture has become so individualistic and people are realizing that’s not the answer.
He said Catholic opinion on reform was quickly turning. “It’s like capital punishment. The teaching authority of the church really moved the needle among the Catholic people, and it’s happening with immigration.”