In response to a call from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, dioceses across the country will celebrate Mass with an immigration theme this coming Sunday. As the immigration debate continues this month, the church wants its prayers answered by Congress.
Dioceses in 22 states are participating. Kevin Appleby is the director of migration policy for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
“Everyday a priest of a lay person gets approached by an immigrant saying, ‘My parents have been deported, my parent is in detention, my loved one is lost in the desert. What can you do to help my family?’" Appleby said. "Unless we change the law in a positive way, there’s not much we can do.”
Appleby said the Mass is not meant to be political but to encourage parishioners to contact their representative in Congress.
"Our laws should be updated to reflect the reality of migration in the current century," he said.
The conference estimates 50 to 60 percent of the nation's estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants are likely to be Catholic or Christian. The Archdiocese of San Antonio will hold a Mass for immigrants and families that will be televised into Mexico.
"We are not celebrating, we are not asking, we are just praying for people to make the right decision and to allow people in a controlled way to get to the United States," said Antonio Fernandez, president of the Archdioceses’ charity arm.
The conference has planned two months of pilgrimages and Masses focused on immigration reform.