“Perfect choice” What to expect from Archbishop Gomez when he takes over in Los Angeles
APR. 6, 2010 (http://calcatholic.com
) - During his tenure as Archbishop of San Antonio since 2005, soon-to-be Archbishop of Los Angeles José Gomez has distinguished himself as a theologically solid Catholic leader unafraid to step into controversy whenever the need arises.
Most recently, Archbishop Gomez issued a statement on March 18 expressing his opposition to the then-pending Senate version of healthcare reform. “As a community of faith the Catholic Church supports true health care reform ensuring that health care is accessible and affordable for all,” wrote the archbishop. “However, we have consistently communicated to our elected officials our support for a morally responsible bill, consistent with our values, that would protect human life at all stages, include full conscience protection and assure that health care is available for everyone, including our immigrant brothers and sisters.”
On March 31, 2009, Archbishop Gomez wrote a letter to Fort Wayne-South Bend Bishop John D’Arcy regarding the Indiana bishop’s refusal to attend last year’s Notre Dame commencement exercises after President Obama was invited to speak during the graduation ceremonies. “President Obama has made it clear that his policies on abortion and the general protection of innocent life are in dramatic opposition to the teachings of the Catholic Church,” said Archbishop Gomez in his letter, which was published on the archdiocesan website. He told Bishop D’Arcy he was “in total support of your action and its motives.”
On May 19, 2009, Archbishop Gomez delivered his own address to graduates of the University of the Incarnate Word in San Antonio. "Pilate was not uneducated,” the archbishop told the graduates. “But he was educated in such a way that he could not recognize the truth -- even when the truth was standing right in front of him. Our society today is a lot like Pontius Pilate -- it doesn’t recognize the truth… Our culture believes instead that there are many truths -- as many different truths as there are individuals, and that it’s wrong to try to decide or judge among these… My friends, part of what God is calling you to do with your higher education is to restore the sense of truth to our society -- especially the truth about the sanctity and dignity of human life. You have to help our society see that truths and moral absolutes do exist. That the truth is always true, no matter whether any one believes it or not. That we need to conform our lives -- and our laws -- to these truths."
In 2008, when then-presidential candidate Hillary Clinton was invited to speak at St. Mary’s University in San Antonio, Archbishop Gomez made national headlines by expressing his disapproval. “I was surprised to learn of Senator Hillary Clinton’s appearance at St. Mary’s University,” said the archbishop in a statement published on the archdiocesan website. “I was neither advised nor consulted by the university before the decision was made to have Senator Clinton speak at the university. Catholic institutions are obliged to teach and promote Catholic values in all instances. This is especially important when people look to our Catholic universities and colleges to provide leadership and clarity to the often complicated and conflicting political discourse. It is clear that the records of Senator Clinton and some of the other candidates for president on important life issues are not consistent with the teaching of the Catholic Church.”
In the lead-up to the November 2008 election, Archbishop Gomez wrote a letter to the San Antonio Express-News expressing his dismay that the newspaper did not include life issues in its coverage of candidates. “People need to know the positions of the candidates on the key issues that protect the right to life such as abortion, euthanasia, embryonic stem cell research and capital punishment,” wrote Gomez in the letter, published Oct. 29, 2008 by the newspaper. “Voters also would have been better served if they had been provided information about the candidates' positions on the definition of marriage, the basic cell of society as a union between a man and a woman. The ‘culture of life’ issues, and I include in that the preservation of the very foundational definition of the human family, often are dismissed as purely religious issues. This characterization is inaccurate. These issues deal with the most fundamental concerns of human civilization. The strong moral teaching at the foundation of these issues does not disqualify them from deserving serious public discussion, nor deny the impact they have on the common good.”
Documents of great import to Catholics are also posted on the archdiocesan website in a section entitled “The Archbishop’s Page.” Under the subheading “Official Statements,” Archbishop Gomez includes the full text of Pope Benedict’s July 2009 motu proprio, Summorum Pontificum, which greatly expanded the use of the extraordinary rite of the Mass in Latin, as well as a November 29, 2005 Instruction from the Congregation for Catholic Education regarding the impermissibility of ordaining homosexuals to the priesthood.
The San Antonio archdiocesan website also includes a feature allowing a search for Masses by language – including Latin. Currently there are three parishes in the archdiocese that offer the extraordinary rite in Latin every Sunday – some of them more often.
The blogsite Whispers in the Loggia had this to say of Archbishop Gomez in an entry yesterday: “Humble and reserved, theologically conservative and spiritually fervent, Benedict's choice is both a Roman embrace of and evolution from the legacy of the epochal Mahony -- the longest-reigning US cardinal named after Vatican II, whose quarter-century at his hometown church's helm has been marked by a uniquely progressive streak that's made him, depending on who you're talking to, a folk icon or lightning rod amid the ever-polarized American Catholic discourse.”
Continued the Whispers entry, “Among other contrasts, while Gomez's record echoes Mahony's commitment to an energized, prominent lay role in the church, the incoming archbishop's focus has largely centered more on the pews' witness in the public square as opposed to the cardinal's strong emphasis on a heavy lay role in ecclesial ministry. Elsewhere, it bears noting that the 850,000-member San Antonio church's current contingent of 28 seminarians is double what Gomez found on his 2005 arrival; the appointee's tenure in Texas saw a sizable boom at his archdiocese's Assumption Seminary -- home to a celebrated bi-lingual formation program -- which opened a new wing at mid-decade as its overall student population boomed from 34 in 2000 to almost 100 in 2007, a figure that's seemingly kept pace since.”
Denver Archbishop Charles Chaput, who ordained Gomez as an auxiliary bishop in Denver in 2001 and under whom Gomez served until being named to lead the Archdiocese of San Antonio, called the pope’s decision to name Gomez as Archbishop of Los Angeles “the perfect choice.” While in Denver, Gomez served as rector of the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception, Moderator of the Curia, and Vicar General
“Archbishop Gomez will serve the Catholic people of Los Angeles with character, courage and good will,” said Archbishop Chaput. “He has one of the best minds in the Church in the United States and a great capacity for work, but he combines those qualities with a personal warmth and respect for other people that make him a very effective leader.”
(Editor’s Note: Some information from the Catholic News Agency was used in preparing this story.)