CHESTNUT HILL — A Vatican official celebrated a Mass for immigrants Friday evening at Boston College, capping a weeklong conference devoted to liberation theology, which emphasizes social justice.
Cardinal Baltazar Porras, a Venezuelan national who serves on the Pontifical Commission for Latin America, gave a brief homily in Spanish during the Mass at Saint Ignatius of Loyola Church.
Speaking to about 100 attendees, Porras emphasized that all peoples are part of “la familia humana,” or the human family.
He spoke of the need for Catholics and non-Catholics alike to give aid to immigrants, and he referenced a message of hope that Pope Francis recently offered to migrants living in the United States.
After the cardinal spoke, prayers were offered in English for “all who are afflicted, especially the poor, the migrants, the refugees,” and “the marginalized.”
The cardinal was a papal delegate to the Ibero-American Conference of Theology, a gathering of 40 Hispanic theologians from the United States, Latin America, and Spain at BC’s School of Theology and Ministry, the college said in a statement.
The conference was held at a time of high tension for immigrants in the United States, in the wake of President Trump’s executive orders targeting undocumented immigrants and refugees and his vow to build a wall along the Mexican border.
Prior to the Mass, theologians gathered at the church with representatives of immigrants rights groups and voiced solidarity with them. Speaking in both Spanish and English, speakers issued calls for pro-immigration policies.
Ana Nuncio of the Salem Latino Leadership Coalition said her group is advocating for an ordinance to declare Salem a sanctuary city.
The Trump administration has vowed to withhold federal funding from such cities, which limit their cooperation with immigration enforcement officers.
Nuncio said five Salem councilors have signaled their support for the ordinance, while six are opposed.
“There is no reason why in this country we should be told that we don’t belong here,” Nuncio said.
Sonia Terbullino, a Peruvian immigrant who founded the Lawrence-based nonprofit Manos en Accion, said that she and other immigrant business owners have much to offer the country.
“There’s many qualities, many attributes,” she said, speaking through a translator. “But because of fear, we’re not able to do these things and we’re exploited.”
Juan Aurelio Lopez, northeast regional vice president of the League of United Latin American Citizens, urged the crowd to push back against a climate of fear and anti-immigrant hostility.
“This is a time when we must stand up,” he said. “If we don’t stand up right away, then that evil will grow.”
During the Mass, the congregation was urged to celebrate diversity and to pray for the will to be “architects for understanding, respect, and unity.”
The Mass concluded with the sharing of the Eucharist, while a choir sang, “Cordero De Dios,” or “Lamb of God.”
“Danos la paz,” went the refrain. “Grant us peace.”