Los Angeles’s new archbishop is…

Jose Gomez of San Antonio, TX. He will be announced as LA’s coadjutor bishop at a press conference this morning, meaning he will take control of the archdiocese when Cardinal Mahony reaches retirement age next year.

The speculation over this appointment has been heated, and it’s groundbreaking in a number of ways. Whispers in the Loggia has more:

[T]he Mexican-born prelate — the lone American bishop professed as a numerary (full member) of Opus Dei — will make history, becoming the first Hispanic prelate to, in time, receive the red hat of a cardinal at the helm of a Stateside diocese.

The appointment would bring to a close several months’ worth of intense consultation and speculation since word of Cardinal Roger Mahony’s request for an understudy began circulating late last year. The classic ecclesiastical “good governance” provision, a coadjutor would first spend some months learning the ropes alongside the 74 year-old cardinal before succeeding to the helm of the 5 million member local church — its Catholic population estimated to be three-quarters Latino — shortly after Mahony reaches the retirement age of 75 next February 27th. (Among other attributes of its wildly-diverse ethnic makeup, Los Angeles — the nation’s second-largest city — is home to the world’s largest concentration of Mexicans outside Mexico City.)

Born in Monterrey and ordained for “The Work” in 1978, Gomez served in Texas from 1987 in both Houston and San Antonio. A former executive director and president of the National Association of Hispanic Priests, in 2001 Pope John Paul II named him an auxiliary to Archbishop Charles Chaput of Denver. Less than four years later, the late pontiff rocketed the young bishop into the lone senior US post customarily held by a Latin cleric, naming Gomez to San Antonio in succession to the legendary Archbishop Patrick Flores. Six months after his installation there,TIME magazine named Gomez one of the nation’s 25 most influential Hispanics.

Archbishop Gomez will be inheriting the largest archdiocese in the country — as well as a pile of lawsuits brought about in the wake of the sex-abuse scandal. It’s a daunting task, but Rocco describes the archbishop as a “low-key, media savvy theologian committed to the late pontiff’s vision of the New Evangelization,” tools that should serve him well in taking on the challenge. Our prayers are with him!

 

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Margaret Cabaniss is the former managing editor of Crisis Magazine. She joined Crisis in 2002 after graduating from the University of the South with a degree in English Literature and currently lives in Baltimore, Maryland. She now blogs at SlowMama.com.

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