Cardinal addresses immigration crisis at Red Mass

BOSTON -- In the Parable of the Good Samaritan, a lawyer and "expert in the law," asks Jesus who his neighbor is. Jesus tells him about a man who has been beaten and stripped of his possessions and left to die lying on the side of the road. A priest walks by, looks at him, and continues on. A Levite does the same. Finally, a Samaritan, a person who would have been considered an outsider at that time, stops and aids the wounded man.

Who then, Jesus asks the expert in law, was the neighbor to this man? The reply was "the one who had mercy on him."

That parable, said Cardinal Seán P. O'Malley speaking to the jurists gathered at Our Lady of Good Voyage Shrine for the Archdiocese of Boston's annual Red Mass, Oct. 15, is important to remember today, amidst the immigration and refugee crisis.

The Red Mass -- a tradition that dates back to the Middle Ages -- is held to invoke the power of the Holy Spirit in guiding members of the legal profession around the beginning of the judicial year. The Mass takes its name from the red vestments traditionally worn by clergy to represent the Holy Spirit, which came down on the Apostles as "tongues of fire." In Boston, the Red Mass is sponsored annually by the Catholic Lawyers' Guild of the Archdiocese of Boston.

"The immigrant is both the stranger and the needy neighbor," said Cardinal O'Malley in his homily, which focused on the present-day immigration and refugee crisis that has seen people migrate in "unprecedented numbers."

The crisis, he said, is not one that "can be reduced to numbers, statistics, or even one dimensional arguments about security issues."

While facts and figures can help people understand how many people are fleeing their homelands, and how many others are entering new countries to seek refuge or pursue a dream, the numbers "do not deal with the deeper moral, religious, and legal dimensions of these human questions," the cardinal said.

Recently, Pope Francis announced the "Share the Journey" campaign, a global effort that has called on people around the world to promote awareness and understanding of immigrants and refugees.

That response is meant to welcome the stranger, meet their needs and assist them, said the cardinal.

In the U.S., "We are an immigrant Church," said Cardinal O'Malley. "The immigrants and refugees we serve come from a large range of countries."

That, combined with our "immigrant history, past and present, should help us address these national questions" on immigration policy, he said.

"Immigrants are not simply facts -- they're persons, each created in the image of God and each possess basic human rights, both of which call for the response to today's stranger in need," he said.

As "experts in the law" and part of civil society, those in the legal profession have a voice that can help shape public narrative on immigration law, the cardinal said.

"We pray that your faith will help you to discover and embrace the values that will enhance your efforts to build a more just society, where justice and mercy are true and dignity of every human person is always paramount," he said.

Speaking to The Pilot after the Mass, attorney Marty Foster commended the cardinal on his homily and for addressing the immigration crisis.

"I worry about the people that are left behind. I mean, we are a nation of immigrants," he said.

"I'm worried about them, given what the (Trump) administration's agenda is. I think it's more important for us than ever to make a contribution to protect them," Foster said.

A luncheon sponsored by the Catholic Lawyers' Guild was held in the nearby Seaport Hotel following the Mass. It featured a talk by James Wright, co-founder and president of The Station of the Cross Catholic Radio Network.

In his talk, Wright noted the important role Catholic radio plays in evangelization.

"We at the Station of the Cross have this instrument, the radio station, with a direct and non-threatening way of allowing the Holy Spirit to touch the soul of the listener," he said.

Catholic radio can help bring people back to the Church, or strengthen the faith of those already in it, he explained.

In Boston, the local Station of the Cross station is WQOM 1060 AM. The station can also be heard on a smartphone app, called iCatholicRadio, which Wright said has over 350,000 downloads from people all across the world.

With the amount of Catholics in the area, said Wright, "we believe Boston can be one of the top leaders in the nation for Catholic radio."

The luncheon also served as an opportunity to present the Catholic Lawyers' Guild's Honorable Joseph R. Nolan Award to this year's recipient, Bishop Mark O'Connell, who is a canon lawyer and former chaplain to the guild.

Named for the late Judge Nolan, who passed away in 2013 and had served as the guild's president, the award is given to a "member of the legal profession who best exemplifies Justice Nolan's excellence in the law, devotion to the Catholic faith, dedication to family, and unwavering compassion for all."

Judge Nolan, was a "lifetime, faithful learner," said Bishop O'Connell upon accepting the award, "and I would love to emulate that."

Terrence Durkin, a law student at Suffolk Law, told The Pilot he enjoyed the Mass and the luncheon. In particular, he enjoyed the venue, Our Lady of Good Voyage Shrine, which he had never visited before.

I was "very glad to take part in it. This was a great gathering of lawyers and non-lawyers, and I hope to get more involved," he said.

Father Chris Palladino, a canon lawyer and the recently appointed chaplain of the Catholic Lawyers' Guild, said it was his idea that the Mass be held at the shrine. The location would "open it up to the young lawyers," he said.

"I think it was a great day."