August 23rd, 2013
10:12 AM ET

Note to all Catholic lawmakers: expect to be getting a call from your local archdiocese.

By Dan Merica, CNN
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Washington (CNN)–With the goal of urging the House to pass a comprehensive immigration reform bill, the Catholic Church is organizing a targeted effort to push immigration reform in the pews and target Catholic lawmakers – particularly Republicans – who may be on the fence over the politically tenuous bill.

The movement, which was first reported in The New York Times, will include coordinated immigration reform sermons on September 8, as well as targeted messaging of Catholic lawmakers, including House Speaker John Boehner and Rep. Paul Ryan, the GOP’s 2012 vice presidential candidate.

“It is a critical time for the fate of the bill,” said Kevin Appleby, director of migration policy at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. “The House is dragging its feet and a lot of those who are on the fence are Catholic. They need to hear the message of the church on this.”

Talk of immigration – for the most part – has been quiet this summer. After the Senate passed an immigration reform bill, the House left Washington for vacation in July after not bringing up the plan. Many Republicans have cast doubt on passing an immigration bill.

The Catholic Church has been outspoken about the issue since it was discussed after the 2012 presidential election. “We pray for a heart which will embrace immigrants. God will judge us upon how we have treated the most needy,” Pope Francis tweeted in July.

For the church, embracing immigration reform serves two purposes, said Appleby: supporting the gospel and responding to “the institutional issues of the church.”

Hispanics – a group widely associated with immigration reform – make up nearly 40 percent of Catholic Church. And according to church figures, since 1960, 71% of the U.S. Catholic population growth has been due to the growth in the number of Hispanics in the U.S. population overall.

“We would be derelict in our duties,” said Appleby, “if we didn’t respond to people in our pews that need our help.”

- Dan Merica

Filed under: Bishops • Catholic Church • Christianity • Church and state • Immigration • Mass • United States

soundoff (288 Responses)
  1. Humberto Barstad

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    December 20, 2013 at 3:07 am |
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    December 13, 2013 at 9:20 am |
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    December 13, 2013 at 3:36 am |
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    December 6, 2013 at 4:36 am |
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    October 16, 2013 at 2:04 am |
  6. G8r

    Churches that participate in political activity need to have all of their tax breaks removed, including property taxes on church property at the local level. Donations to those churches should not be tax free.

    September 14, 2013 at 12:13 pm |
  7. Olavi

    The church want more illiterate people as immigrants to be flock of ignorant people in mass and benefit from those financially. Money is the god of church. There is no other God.
    These people little benefit USA.

    September 2, 2013 at 1:51 pm |
  8. Tima


    September 1, 2013 at 7:23 pm |
  9. chuck

    The democrats want the Illegals here for votes, the Republicans for cheap labor.... the Catholic church wants them here to bolster their numbers and donations.... The American Citizen DOES NOT WANT THEM HERE ! The suck the life out of benefits intended for American Citizens and those who came LEGALLY.... NO AMNESTY EVER !

    September 1, 2013 at 7:23 pm |
    • Lt. David J. Smith

      I'm an American Citizen and I can tell you I'd much rather have them here than small minded bigots that think just because their ancestors snuck in before the proverbial fence went up you have the right to deny the American dream to anyone who seeks it.

      September 20, 2013 at 7:09 pm |
  10. Leftcoastrocky

    Note to the Catholic Church - stay out of politics.

    September 1, 2013 at 4:15 pm |
  11. RE

    Last year religious organizations took in$82 billion of tax free donations. If they try to infuence any political issues they should be taxed.

    September 1, 2013 at 3:40 pm |
  12. jazzguitarman

    Regardless of one's view on illegal immigration, the RCC should be taxed since they are acting as a political group. That is a violation of IRS policy.

    August 31, 2013 at 7:13 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.