Los Angeles Archbishop Jose H. Gomez led an interfaith prayer service Thursday evening in which he stressed the importance of unity and reassured immigrants in the country illegally that the church would continue supporting them after the election of Donald Trump.
More than 100 people, including Mayor Eric Garcetti and religious leaders, gathered for the event in the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in downtown Los Angeles.
“In the past couple days since the election … we have children in our schools who are scared,” Gomez told the congregation. “They think the government is going to come and deport their parents.”
During his campaign, Trump promised to build a wall along the the U.S.-Mexico border and deport people in the country illegally.
“Tonight we promise our brothers and sisters who are undocumented, we will never leave you alone,” Gomez said, drawing applause.
After the archbishop’s remarks, interfaith leaders including Rabbi Sharon Brous; Salam Al-Marayati, president of the Muslim Public Affairs Council; and the Rev. Najuma Smith-Pollard, program manager at USC’s Center for Religion and Civic Culture; echoed the archbishop’s call to unite.
“Racism that has always been part of this country has surfaced with a vengeance,” Brous said, referring to recent attacks on minorities following the election.
Ernesto Vega, a Mexican immigrant who is the archdiocese’s coordinator of Hispanic Ministry for Adults, attended the service and expressed fear about the fallout from the election.
“I’m close to becoming a U.S. citizen,” Vega said. “But I think of my brothers and sisters who have recently immigrated, who are barely learning the language and who are being punished because of the color of their skin.
“When I came here to this country, I did feel discrimination -- in the Catholic Church, in society and in school. But I thought that we had gone way ahead,” Vega said. “Now it seems like all this effort that society has done is in danger of being destroyed.”
Religious leaders at Thursday’s prayer event urged people to look out for one another regardless of their religion, race or background.
“Be together,” Gomez said in his closing remarks. “That’s what this is all about.”
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