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Three archbishops and nine bishops representing at least 13 million Catholics from Sacramento to Ensenada have resurrected their “Alta-Baja” friendship, paving the way to potentially working together in the future.
Los Angeles Archbishop José Gómez and Tijuana’s Archbishop Francisco Moreno Barrón had worked with their respective episcopal organizations for more than a year to coordinate a meeting of the two sides. Their efforts culminated in an “Encuentro de los Obispos de Alta y Baja California” on Oct. 30 at the San Diego Diocese.
The California Catholic Conference of Bishops organized the participants north of the border, which included San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone and seven bishops.
The Conference’s president, Sacramento Bishop Jaime Soto, chaired the meeting, and its vice president, San Diego Bishop Robert McElroy, hosted the event, which ended with a dinner.
The Tijuana Archdiocese coordinated the participation of the bishops of Ensenada and Mexicali, as well as Tijuana’s retired archbishop.
The purpose of the six-hour meeting was for the leaders from one side of the border to meet their counterparts from the other, and see where the conversation took them. The bishops spoke candidly, often one elaborating on a point raised by one of their colleagues. They shared what was occurring in their individual dioceses regarding issues of common interest, such as immigration, NAFTA and Laudato Si, Pope Francis’s call to protect the environment.
Regarding immigration, the California bishops described how the Trump Administration’s executive orders had sowed fear in their dioceses as deportations increased.
For their part, the Baja California bishops said the surge in deported migrants arriving in their dioceses had further strained their resources.
By the end, the bishops committed to meeting next October, this time in Baja California, to explore ways they could work together to strengthen each other’s pastoral work.