Bishops walk a small portion of migrant journey

By Nancy Wiechec

NOGALES, Ariz. — About 30 miles north of the border with Mexico, seven U.S. bishops and two priests piled out of a small bus just off of I-19 in Arizona.

Jesuit Father Sean Carroll of the Kino Border Initiative was taking them on a short hike in the Sonoran Desert.

“How far are we going?” asked one. “Is this illegal?”

Bishop Oscar Cantu of Las Cruces, N.M., ducks under barbed wire as a group of U.S. bishops tours an area of the Arizona desert north of Nogales. (CNS photo/Nancy Wiechec)

Bishop Oscar Cantu of Las Cruces, N.M., ducks under barbed wire as a group of U.S. bishops tours an area of the Arizona desert north of Nogales. (CNS photo/Nancy Wiechec)

Father Carroll led the way. First they negotiated a steep incline from the road. Then they crouched to scoot through a short tunnel underneath the road. Out of the culvert, they ducked under a barbed-wire fence, careful not to catch their shirts. One bishop lost his balance and took a little spill into tiny pebbles. They continued walking down a bone-dry wash.

Bishop John C. Wester of Salt Lake City takes a picture of a discarded backpack in the Arizona desert. (CNS photo/Nancy Wiechec)

Bishop John C. Wester of Salt Lake City takes a picture of a discarded backpack in the Arizona desert. (CNS photo/Nancy Wiechec)

Just a few steps down the uneven, gravelly path, they spotted discarded backpacks and socks — remnants from migrants who had passed this way.

The bishops and priests maneuvered past thin thorny branches of the desert brush and over spiny cactuses. Prickles of burr sage attached to pant legs and socks.

Climbing over the edge of the wash, the group stood in the open desert sun. It was only 72 degrees that morning. Even so, skin can burn if it’s not protected and you can quickly dehydrate. In the summer the temperature can soar past 110 degrees.

Father Carroll explained how migrants — many trying to make their way to work or to be with family — lose their lives out here.

Men, women and children from Mexico, other parts of Latin America and beyond perish in the Arizona desert from exposure, dehydration or injury. One advocacy group counts at least 200 who die in such ways each year.

It can take three to five days to walk across the unforgiving desert to pickup points beyond the usual range of the Border Patrol’s monitoring. Many move at night to avoid the extreme heat and to minimize the chances of being caught. But traveling on foot in the dark brings other risks.

A group of U.S. bishops pray for immigrants at the end of their hike through part of the Sonoran Desert. (CNS photo/Nancy Wiechec)

A group of U.S. bishops pray for immigrants at the end of their hike through part of the Sonoran Desert. (CNS photo/Nancy Wiechec)

As the bishops made their way back to their bus, they stopped for a moment, held hands and prayed for the people who make such dangerous and arduous journeys.

Back on the asphalt, Bishop Mark J. Seitz of El Paso, Texas, said their short hike “brings home the reality” that many migrants face. “It’s very rough territory.”

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Nancy Wiechec is former visual media manager at Catholic News Service.

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Editor’s Note: Click here for more photos. Also see a related story and photos on a Mass celebrated by the bishops one day later at the border.

4 Responses

  1. Sorry, bishops, Mt. 25; 35 is not talking about illegal aliens; they are not the “little ones” Jesus mentions. Read the footnotes in our bible to accurately understand who He was talking about. You would serve your sheep better if you stopped this showmanship and started teaching them that saying one thing and doing another is going to lead them to the left side of Jesus upon his return. And many of the clergy will be on that side, too, for how can you and they say they believe God is the creator of life, and pray for God’s will to be done on earth, while believing you are obeying the Greatest Commandment, yet, you give your name endorsement and support to that worldly organization in the U.S. solely responsible for attacking God’s greatest gift – life – and now His 2nd greatest gift – the sanctity of marriage, while also attacking our First Amendment Rights of Freedom of Religion and the Catholic Church directly concerning birth control? Catholics belonging and supporting that organization give that organization the electoral power to continue attacking God, destroying his laws. At least half the priest registered to vote, endorse the pro-abortion, pro-sodomite “marriage,” anti God Democratic Party. Your acts and deeds concerning God’s laws contradict what you say you believe and pray for. You all better be spending a lot more time trying to save your own souls and that of your sheep, or you are going to be very upset and unhappy that your grandstanding for illegal aliens wasn’t the thing to be doing when 57,000,000 unborn babies have been murdered in the U.S. alone, and state after state, court after court rule to allow same-sex “marriages” do to the power Catholics give that anti-God organization. You don’t have to join another organization, just get out of that one, and start being true to your “word,” or you will find yourselves in the company of the Pharisee and Scribes.

  2. Reblogged this on Bengts Blogg and commented:
    USA-biskopar vid mexikanska gränsen uppmärksammar de illegala immigranternas situation

  3. Stilbelieve I believe you are confused. The bishops have been the most outspoken critics of life destroying laws. Much more than any other group because they speak for the Church in the US. YOu interpret who the “little ones” are according to the power of your politics not the power of the Holy Spirit.

  4. MMartinez, thank you for reading my comment and giving me an opportunity to respond. You’re right, the bishops have been an outspoken critic of “life destroying laws,” particularly abortion. But their criticism does not translate into opposition to the only organization that is responsible for keeping the murder of unborn babies legal. The Democratic Party is the only political organization responsible for the 57,000,000 murdered babies in the U.S. alone, yet most Catholics registered to vote and voting, endorse with their names and support the pro-abortion Democrat Party, contrary to what those church-going Catholics say they believe and pray for. And that includes the clergy as well.

    As for the “interpretation” of “the little ones,” that comes directly out of the footnote in my Catholic bible for “Mt 10; 40-42: All who receive the disciples of Jesus receive him, and God who sent him, and will be rewarded accordingly.” Illegal immigrants are not Christian missionaries coming into our country to spread the word of God. And for the bishops to use the word of God in their attempt to get Catholics to support a piece of legislation that would legalize these illegals is not only blaspheming God’s words, it fool-heartedly locks in abortion-on-demand remaining the law of the land because Catholic Hispanic voters in the last election voted for this pro-abortion, pro-infanticide, pro same-sex “marriage,” anti Freedom of Religion, anti-Catholic Church Barack Obama by 75%. The Catholic vote gave Obama twice the margin of votes needed to win. Six or Seven more million such voters would seal the death of the unborn and the sanctity of marriage forever.

    Furthermore, Mt 25; 35, “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me….” which is the motto used by the bishops for Catholics to support “Comprehensive Immigration Reform” including pathway to citizenship, is not referring to “All people who have suffered hunger, thirst, etc,” but “to a particular group of people of such sufferers” according to the footnote in my Catholic bible. “The criterion of judgment for all the nations is their treatment of those who have borne to the world the message of Jesus, and this means ultimately their acceptance or rejection of Jesus himself; cf 10, 40, “Whoever receives you, receives me.”

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