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To see 'forgotten people' and stop injustice, Catholic leaders take Mass on the road

Carmen George, The Fresno Bee on

Published in Religious News

The mobile chapel, unveiled in December, should be put to good use in a diocese that covers eight counties. It was taken earlier this year to Manzanar National Historic Site in the eastern Sierra, the location of an internment camp for Japanese Americans during World War II.

Survivors of the camp attended the somber service. There were 200 Catholics interned there just because they had Japanese surnames, Ochoa says.

"We certainly shamefacedly have to pick up the pieces and say, 'Never again,' " Ochoa says. "Never again should that happen."

PROTECTING DACA YOUTH

The church may not have directly caused that injustice or other dark chapters in history, but it still was part of a society that did, Dreiling says, and that's important to acknowledge and to ask for forgiveness.

"There's been a change of heart," Dreiling says. "The church now stands very vocal and officially opposed to discrimination in all its forms."

 

In that spirit, the Catholic Bishops of California issued a statement in September urging immigration reform for those enrolled in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and their families. Dreiling estimates about 70 percent of approximately 1.3 million registered Catholics in the Diocese of Fresno are Hispanic.

"DACA students are not the so-called 'bad hombres,' an insidious label used to instill fear in others and feed the racism and nativism that unfortunately is rearing its ugly head in our cities," the statement reads. "Far from it, DACA-eligible youth are high school graduates, in school or working on their GED. Many are now in college. They may be honorably discharged members of the armed services. No one convicted of a felony or serious misdemeanor (or three misdemeanors) can apply for DACA."

After the Mass at Mooney Grove, Ochoa talked about push-back on that statement.

"People say, 'Oh you bishops are involved in politics.' This is not politics," Ochoa says. "This is the doctrine of social justice that we'll continue to proclaim."

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