The Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of St. Petersburg joined the debate of the issue of immigration reform today, In delivering his homily at Chrism, Bishop Robert Lynch called on fellow Catholics to oppose legislation proposed by the house of representatives which would criminalize millions of immigrants in the United States. WMNFs Andrew Stelzer was there, and filed this report.


ACT ‘do we really love the church, embrace the poor, work for justice, do we take opportunity to embrace those who we are called to serve?..�

More than 1,000 catholic worshippers and priests gathered at the St Jude the Apostle catholic church this morning, to be anointed by the holy oil, and to hear remarks by the bishop for the area which includes Pinellas, Hillsborough, Pasco, Hernando and Citrus counties. Several members of the local media were also present, because of word that Bishop Lynch was going to speak about house bill 4437, which would make all illegal immigrants in the United States felons, as well as anyone who aids them.

ACT “in our local church there are 115 thousand illegals, they are working for below sustenance wages, but never access social services. They are overwhelmingly our brothers and sisters, where are our voices against the legislations..�

Lynch said that the house bill would criminalize many of the historical works of mercy of the catholic church.

ACT “there is no one word in honor of these hermanos..perhaps we should change the statue of liberty..�

Lynch said he is afraid that the church has lost a portion of its soul, and is no longer the church for the poor, the homeless, the hungry, the vulnerable the naked and the imprisoned.

ACT “where are our voices, are we afraid of a few radio talk shows, stand with the church and seek a far less draconian solution.. goes into Spanish..

The bishop also spoke in support of the interfaith Pinellas county organization, FAST for becoming politically active on issues of social justice, he also said church members and bishops need to more to oppose capital punishment and the war in Iraq. WMNF asked some of the people who attended the xx their thoughts on the archbishops’ comments

ACTS Woman-“I think it should be heard every where, im behind it all, I hope all the migrants get to stay…ARE PEOPLE NOT INVOLVED…how many wrote a letter, they probably feel helpless..�

Man-“I’m all in favor of it, strong homily, im a hundred percent behind on immigration, that’s true..�

Woman-“I have nothing about anybody, but every person that comes over should speak English, if they are gonna live in this county, they are all welcome as far as I’m concerned.

Women-“we agree with him, because we are immigrants too, we are from the Philippines, immigrants will support it. They are contributing to the economy of this nation, they are not welfare, CHEAP LABOR..1976..they are very unchristly, like the bishop said, we all have to be united..�

Woman-“I don’t believe politics and religion. No its nice somewhere else, but not as part the homily-not appropriate. I do not disagree, but not at the pulpit. WHAT SHOULD IT BE ABOUT..gospel word of god, not politics. I’m for immigration, my parents were it’s not the proper place to bring it. PEOPLE NOT INVOLVED..that’s true, they have been very selfish and self centered, we wouldn’t have so many problems, what happened to people right here, insist that they go to schools, the more people here that are educated, the better the country is..WHY NOT INVOLVED…selfishness, me me me , will it change, it will have to start with the priest, even the church is parents from Haiti, im from new York�

Afterwards, archbishop Daniel Lynch spoke to reporters about why he decided to speak out about the need to oppose the house’s proposed immigration.

ACT “I would not be fulfilling my role as priest and prophet..’

ACT “I hope that priests go back and tell...we've got about 6 or 7…illegals are demonstrating, all im looking for is sanity..�

ACT “I think im a little late at the gate, cardinal Mahoney said arrest me, try it, im not gonna change, and others have said the same, the Florida bishops have spoken up, it was my turn..�

ACT “homeland security could do what Katrina did to nola, when you go eat in Hillsborough you find illegals…if the law was changed we wouldn’t need a church there..what they can do between the current and the legislation is scary..’

ACT ‘we marched with martin Luther king, we've gotten a little too comfortable as a church, we’ve lost our sense to be servants of the poor..�

ACT ‘I will be there..solidarity is the answer..�

Bishop Lynch, says he plans to attend any future local immigration protests like the one sweeping the country, and hops to see more Catholics there in support.

For WMNF news, I’m Andrew Stelzer

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