Sunday, May 5, 2013

Priest Acts out the Stations of the Border Crossing

This story struck me as odd.  The messages from it are mixed.  I'm just going to make my comments as you read along:

Chicago priest crosses U.S.-Mexico border to better understand parishioners
April 29, 2013|By Jennifer Delgado, Chicago Tribune reporter

The Rev. Gary Graf, of St. Gall Roman Catholic Church in Chicago, tells his parish during a Spanish-language service Sunday about his experience crossing the U.S.-Mexico border.

Just days after crossing the U.S.-Mexico border by climbing a wall, a Chicago priest says what he did was wrong and urged parishioners in his Southwest Side church to apologize if they had done the same.

"And by recognizing you did something wrong, you can't keep doing it," said the Rev. Gary Graf of St. Gall Roman Catholic Church in Chicago's Gage Park neighborhood. "I'm begging the people to take a different tactic."
So, this priest is calling for repentance here.  It is wrong to cross the border illegally.  He tells them not to do it again, whatever that means.  Wouldn't righting the wrong of trespassing be to get off the property?  Go back home?  Turn yourself in to ICE?  Apparently not.

After speaking to a packed Sunday morning Mass, Graf said he traveled to Mexico this month with the intention of returning to U.S. soil by scaling a 20-foot iron wall.

The 54-year-old pastor, a U.S. citizen, said he wanted to understand what many of his Hispanic parishioners went through. Now that he does, he feels it's important they make amends for their actions by having a conversation with U.S. citizens about it.
Here are his instructions for repentance: Have a conversation with a citizen about the subject.  Huh?

With only his backpack, Graf flew to Tucson, Ariz., almost two weeks ago and then rode a bus to Mexico. Graf paid for the trip but took about $3,000 from a church collection to pay coyotes, or people who smuggle others into the U.S. for a fee.
Is that the best use of church funds?

He spent three days in a home with 27 people waiting for smugglers to take him to the U.S. before abandoning his plan. Graf said he then hitched a ride and walked hours through the desert until he came to the border.

At nightfall Wednesday, Graf said he sat, prayed and looked at the fence for about an hour before climbing it. He thought he'd get arrested as soon as he landed on the other side, in Nogales, Ariz., but didn't see anyone around.
Our border is as secure as ever, says Big Sis.  But Nogales isn't exactly remote territory.

The next morning, Graf said he turned himself in to the Santa Cruz County Sheriff's office, which later called U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Neither agency arrested him, and he was let go, he said. A representative from the Santa Cruz County Sheriff's office could not be reached for comment Sunday.

A spokeswoman for the Archdiocese of Chicago on Sunday said Cardinal Francis George did not know of Graf's actions in Mexico until Saturday evening.
It's always a good idea to let the boss know what you are doing.  Apparently the Cardinal did not have anything to say about the matter.  You would think the press would ask for his opinion on illegal aliens or the actions of the priest.  I guess not.

The pastor said he believes he is the first Chicago priest to cross the U.S.-Mexico border by climbing a wall. 
Is he trying to get in the Guinness Book of World Records?  The first Chicago priest (not Detroit) to cross the border by climbing a wall (not through a tunnel or a hole in the fence or an unguarded section).  Perhaps he should add, "With a ham sandwich in his pocket."

He added that he wants his parishioners to speak thoughtfully about immigration instead of rallying and protesting on May Day.
Now, here's the rather strange point.  To make amends for entering illegally and getting a job by fraud, you should not march in the streets demanding amnesty.  According to Father Graf,  you should speak to someone thoughtfully about what you did.  (I think he means outside the confessional.)

"I really feel that as pastor my goal is to engage both sides of the conversation, and this is my attempt to do that," said Graf, who plans on returning the parish money.

Outside of the Southwest Side church, many parishioners showed their support for Graf. Many said they did not know the pastor scaled the border wall until a few days ago.

"We're so happy he did that for us," said Jacqueline Portero, 31, as she stood next to her 10-year-old daughter. "He just wanted to experience what the people experienced. He wanted to show the people he's there for them."
His congregation loved it.  I suppose that's because having a conversation about breaking into the United States uninvited is a lot easier than returning home to Mexico.


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