Franciscans Pray for Mexican Border Victims

OCEANSIDE, California, DEC. 3, 2002 ( Some 50 Franciscan friars gathered at the U.S.-Mexico border to remember in prayer the more than 2,000 Mexican migrants who have died trying to cross the frontier.

The service Monday invoked the “posada” tradition, recalling Mary’s and Joseph’s seeking hospitality in Bethlehem for the birth of Jesus.

Friars representing 18 countries called on the U.S. government to end Operation Gatekeeper, which they said forces migrants to cross in the most dangerous sections of the border through the desert and mountainous terrain, the Misna agency reported.

“This plan is killing innocent human beings who are in search of better lives,” said Father Gearoid Ó Conaire, leader of the International Council for Justice, Peace and the Integrity of Creation, for the Order of Friars Minor in Rome. “In the nonviolent spirit of St. Francis and St. Clare, we call on the U.S. government to end this policy of death.”

The friars gathered on the border at the end of a weeklong conference of coordinators of the council, held at the San Luis Rey Mission here. Coordinators from across the Western Hemisphere came together to share information and propose initiatives for the defense of the poor and marginalized. Friars will continue to meet this week.