In solidarity with the USCCB’s push for “comprehensive” immigration reform this September 8, the Catholic Social Action office for the Archdiocese of Cincinnati is distributing resources for parish use, including sample intercessions. Here’s the graceless kick-off prayer:

For our leaders, that they may implement policies that allow for safe migration, just migrant working conditions, and an end to the detention of asylum seekers, while protecting our national safety, we pray to the Lord.

Yet what is comprehensive immigration reform, exactly? The faithful can’t be expected to get behind something unless they know what it is. In Archbishop Schnurr’s July letter, he exhorts us to embrace this comprehensive reform but never really defines it. The closest he comes is in this paragraph near the end:

We hope and pray that the U.S. House of Representatives and its leaders will advance the cause of comprehensive immigration reform that allows our nation to protect its borders and provides for family reunification, stronger workers’ rights, and pathways to citizenship. Should they fail, should they vote for the status quo, then no one wins — not migrants or their families, not law enforcement, not our economy or communities, not America.

If this ambiguity is due to His Excellency recognizing that the Church’s role is to educate the faithful on a set of principles that they then balance across complex situations so as to exercise their prudential judgment (as opposed to, say, abortion, which has a bright line mandating prohibition), then all to the good. But the way these efforts come across is that the federal government should set about proposing and doing something “big” and that we are duty-bound to support it. And that just ain’t so.