The New Vision

Oct. 23 Mass in Nogales is a collaboration of faith communities across the U.S. / Mexico border
Immigration and refugee needs to be highlighted during Mass at International Border with the Apostolic Nuncio

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Archbishop Christophe Pierre

Archbishop Christophe Pierre

When Pope Francis visited the eastern United States in September 2015, one of the consistent messages of his talks to government leaders and the throngs of Catholics was the focus on the plight of refugees and  immigrants.
Even now, a year later, he continues to speak on behalf of those who leave or flee their countries searching for a new life free from tyranny, free from fear, and free from the dehumanization that was experienced in their own countries.
As The Hill, an online publication, succinctly published last year. “Pope Francis is painfully aware of the borders that govern the earth, which in part is why he speaks against globalization that allows commerce and capital to cross borders but otherwise uses and then disposes of the individual—the human being. “We need to avoid a common temptation these days,” he (Pope Francis) told Congress, “to discard whatever proves troublesome.”
On Sunday, Oct. 23, Dioceses Sin Fronteras, or Dioceses Without Borders, an organization dedicated to broadening awareness of the need for all to treat those on both sides of the Mexico/United States border with dignity and respect in the spirit of faith, will hold the last of three border Masses it has organized. This last Mass will take place east of the Morley Pedestrian Walk at East International Street and South Nelson Avenue.
The last two Masses – one in Douglas and one in Naco – were con-celebrated by Bishop Gerald F. Kicanas of the Diocese of Tucson, and by Bishop José Leopoldo González González, the bishop of the newly-created Diocese of Nogales, Sonora.
The principal celebrant at the Nogales Mass is Archbishop Christophe Pierre, the Apostolic Nuncio to the United States. He is the representative of the Holy Father, Pope Francis, in the United States.
Pierre was invited to celebrate Mass in Nogales by bishops Kicanas and González González. Pierre also understands Nogales well; In March 2007, Pope Benedict XVI named him Apostolic Nuncio to Mexico. Like Pope Francis, Archbishop Pierre has a deep sensitivity for the struggle of refugees and migrants and he readily agreed to put this on his agenda.
But even prior to his work in Mexico, Pierre was well-familiar with working at the voice of the Catholic Church in countries with political and ethical struggles. His first Nunciature assignment, back in 1995, when St. John Paul II named him Apostolic Nuncio to Haiti and named him Titular Archbishop of Gunela, where he was seen as nonpolitical in the tense environment and where he arranged for Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide to be “released from his vows as a priest.” His second assignment was in May 1999, when he was transferred to Kampala, Uganda.
Pope Francis named him the Apostolic Nuncio to the United States in April 2016, following his work as Apostolic Nuncio to Mexico.
Bishop Kicanas has been a strong advocate for the need for both comprehensive immigration reform and for the dignified treatment of immigrants and refugees for most of his episcopal career. He has toured local and international areas heavily affected by immigration of people from economically deprived or war-torn areas such as Syria.  As a former Chairman of the Board for Catholic Relief Services, he saw first-hand the life-threatening events of those trying to reach safety or security around the world, and their corresponding struggle as refugees in a new country.
As Bishop of the Diocese of Tucson, whose southern border follows the international border with Mexico, he has prayed with immigrants struggling to survive the dangerous journey from Mexico into the United States, where they have been prey for smugglers or “coyotes” and drug runners and other criminals. He supports the need to control crime along the border, without persecuting those striving for safer, more secure lives in the United States through comprehensive immigration reform.
Bishop Gonzalez Gonzalez served in the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace in Rome prior to becoming an auxiliary bishop in the Archdiocese of Guadalajara and before being named by Pope Francis as the founding bishop of the Diocese of Nogales. His experience working for justice and peace prepared him to serve as a border bishop faced with the many challenges along the border.
The Mass on the United States side of the border in Nogales is open to all.  Participants are advised to arrive early to find parking, to wear comfortable shoes and clothing and to bring a lawn chair to sit on.
For more information call (520) 838-2500.

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