Editor’s note: On Nov. 10, two days after the U.S. Presidential Election, Archbishop José H. Gomez hosted an interfaith prayer service for hope and unity at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels. Participants included Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti as well as Jewish, Muslim and Christian leaders. The text below is adapted from the archbishop’s homily, which was delivered in Spanish and English.
We are here tonight because our people are hurting and they feel afraid. We are here to listen to their voices, because they feel they are being forgotten.
In our country, we need to start building bridges and bringing people together. We need to reach out to those who are hurting. Now is the time to build unity and heal communities, through our love for our neighbor and our care for those in need.
That’s what tonight is about. Not politics. It’s about people.
We stand in the presence of God who is our Father in heaven and we are his children. And that means we are all brothers and sisters.
Those are the words of Jesus that we just heard: “I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your heavenly Father.”
This is our true identity — every one of us. We are not liberals or conservatives. Before everything else, we are children of God.
And we are here tonight because our brothers and sisters are hurting and afraid.
In the past couple days since the election — we have children in our schools who are scared. They think the government is going to come and deport their parents, any day now.
Right now — all across this city, and in cities all across this country — there are children who are going to bed scared.
There are men and women who can’t sleep because they are trying to figure out what to do next. Trying to figure what to do when the government comes to take them away from their kids and their loved ones.
This should not be happening in America. We are not this kind of people. We are better than this.
My brothers and sisters, we have allowed this issue of immigration to consume us, as a nation.
Our immigration system has been broken for a long time. Our leaders could have come together and solved this problem — at any time in the last 15 or 20 years.
More than 2 million people have been deported in the last eight years. Nobody seems to care. Except that little girl who comes home at night — and she knows her father isn’t there anymore.
We are better people than this. We should not accept that this is the best we can hope for — in our politics or in ourselves.
So this is where we are. Tonight in America — children are afraid. Men and women are worried and anxious, thinking about where they can run and hide. This is happening tonight, in America.
The answer is not angry words or violence in the streets. That never solves anything; it only inflames things more.
We need to be people of peace, people of compassion. Love not hate. Mercy not revenge. These are the tools to rebuild our nation and renew the American dream.
Tonight we promise our brothers and sisters who are undocumented — we will never leave you alone. ¡En las buenas y en las malas! In good times and in bad, we are with you. You are family. We are brothers and sisters. We go with faith in God and we are confident that our Mother Holy Mother of Guadalupe will help us!
As we come gather to pray for unity and to “bind the wounds of division” — tonight we also pray for our leaders, including our President-elect. May God grant them wisdom and mercy, and the heart to feel the pain of those who are suffering.
Let us pray tonight, in a special way — that our leaders will find it in their hearts to make a beautiful, humanitarian gesture. Let’s pray that they can come together, in a spirit of national unity, and agree to stop the threat of deportations — until we can fix our broken immigration system.
And may Our Lady of Guadalupe — the Mother of Jesus and the Mother of all the peoples of the Americas — may she watch over us and help us to truly become one nation under God.
Holy Mary of Guadalupe, pray for us, for our leaders and for our country! Amen.