Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Archbishop Gomez: Everything you need to know

UPDATE (11:42PM): No, Archbishop Gomez, did NOT cover anything up! SNAP is charging that Archbishop Gomez helped cover-up a scandal in San Antonio. Really? The more I read about this, the more clear it becomes that these charges are unfair. I'm posting all of this in a separate place. See the exhaustive discussion here.

I'll be on NPR this afternoon talking about the appointment of Archbishop Gomez between 1:45pm and 2:10pm.

Since I've had multiple threads going on Archbishop Gomez, I'm going to consolidate everything here into one post. Consider this the exhaustive one-stop-shop for everything on the new coadjutor bishop of Los Angeles, the successor to Cardinal Mahony.

Keep coming back because I'll be refreshing the information.


Official press release

TV News Coverage in San Antonio

Los Angeles Times article

Catholic On-line

Whispers in the Loggia

Why Archbishop Gomez is like other Bishops Appointed by Pope Benedict

Archbishop Gomez fits the template of a typical Pope Benedict ecclesial appointment that I mentioned in my previous post in which I speculated about the identity of Cardinal Mahony's successor: he has experience in priestly formation, he has an academic background (a doctoral degree in theology), and he has, at least some, Roman experience (he has worked for the Pontifical Commission for Latin America, a Roman dicastery).

Archbishop Gomez's Background

Helpful sources:
--Archbishop Gomez's page at the Diocese of San Antonio's website.
--Pastoral Letter, You Will Be My Witnesses

Archbishop Gomez was born in Mexico. He is one of five children--the only boy. He earned a degree in business and philosophy in 1975 at the National University in Mexico. He went on to the University of Navarre in Rome and graduated in 1978 with a degree in Theology. That same year he was ordained as a priest in the Prelature of Opus Dei. He eventually earned a doctorate in Theology in Spain at the University of Navarre.

For twelve years (1987-1999) he served as a priest at a parish in San Antonio. During these years Archbishop Gomez emerged as a highly regarded national leader among Hispanic priests in the US. He has served as regional representative, president and executive director of the Association of Hispanic Priests.

After serving as a priest in San Antonio, Archbishop Gomez worked in the Diocese of Denver. He was made an auxiliary bishop of Archbishop Chaput in 2001. There he helped to establish Denver’s Centro San Juan Diego for Family and Pastoral Care, which provides care to immigrants in the community as well as formation for lay leaders. While in Denver he also served as Rector of the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception as well as Moderator of the Curia and Vicar General for the Archdiocese of Denver.

In 2004, the then Bishop Gomez was appointed head of the archdiocese of San Antonio. In fact, his ties to the archdiocese long pre-date his earlier ministry there. His mother was apparently raised there and his maternal grandparents were married in the city.

Awards and Recognition

Archbishop Gomez's work has been widely celebrated and he is recognized as one of the rising stars of the Hispanic hierarchy. In 2003 he was awarded the prestigious "El Buen Pastor" award. In 2005 he appeared on Time Magazine’s list of the 25 most influential Hispanics in the United States. The article about him stated:
. . . Gomez is a natural conciliator admired for uniting rich and poor and Anglo and Hispanic Catholics behind Denver's Centro Juan Diego, a hybrid Latino religious-instruction and social-services center hailed as a national model.
In 2007 he was also featured on CNN’s list of “Notable Hispanics” in a web special celebrating “Hispanic Heritage Month”.

He has also served on the board of directors of the National Catholic Council of Hispanic Ministry as well as on the steering committee for Encuentro 2000, which commemorated the Jubilee Year of 2000. The event took place in Los Angeles and was sponsored by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Concern for Priestly Formation

Archbishop Gomez has also been very much involved in priestly formation and in building community among priests. He has written a book on the spiritual formation of priests, entitled, Men of Brave Heart: The Virtue of Courage in the Priestly Life (Our Sunday Visitor, 2009). He was instrumental in the founding of Our Lady of Guadalupe Seminary in Mexico in 2000, a seminary which trains priests who serve in the United States. He has served on the United States Council of Catholic Bishops' (USCCB) committees for priestly formation and priestly affairs.

Committees Archbishop Gomez has served on

In fact, Archbishop Gomez serves on a number of distinguished committees. His own site lists the following:

• Chair: Ad Hoc Committee on the Spanish Language Bible for the Church in America (USCCB), 2003 ‐
• Chair: Committee on Cultural Diversity in the Church (USCCB), 2008 ‐
• Member: Committee on Doctrine (USCCB), 2003‐
• Member: Committee on Catechesis (USCCB), 2005 ‐
• Member: Subcommittee on Hispanics and the Liturgy (USCCB), 2005 ‐
• Board Member: Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc.
• Board Member: Mexican American Cultural Center
• Board Member: ENDOW – Educating on the Nature and Dignity of Women
• Board of Trustees: The Catholic University of America
• Board of Trustees: San Fernando Cathedral Historical Centre Foundation
• Director: The John G. and Marie Stella Kenedy Memorial Foundation
• Episcopal Moderator: National Association of Hispanic Priests
• Episcopal Moderator: National Catholic Network de Pastoral Juvenil Hispana
• Spiritual Advisor: Catholic Life Insurance
• Founding Member: Catholic Association of Latino Leaders (C.A.L.L.)

Concern for Teaching and His Emphasis on the Importance of Scripture

Note that at the top of the list is his role as Chair of the Ad Hoc Committee on the Spanish Language Bible for the Church in America. This is an especially important post. Archbishop Gomez is deeply committed to helping Spanish speaking Catholics read the Bible. In fact, he reads the Spanish reflections on the Sunday Readings produced the St. Paul Center each week. For more, go here. These are excellent.

This sort of thing is not unusual for the good prelate. Last year he also headed up the effort to bring a teaching segment to the local population on AM radio.


The Bishop made national headlines last year when he expressed disappointment over the fact that a Catholic college in his diocese, St. Mary's University invited Hilary Clinton to speak. Bishop Gomez insisted, "Our Catholic institutions must promote the clear understanding of our deep moral convictions on an issue like abortion, an act that the Church calls ‘an unspeakable crime’ and a non-negotiable issue" (source). In addition, go here to see a TV news report, with excerpts from an interview with the bishop.

Archbishop Gomez also made news by coming out as an early critic of Notre Dame's decision to invite President Obama to receive an honorary degree and present a commencement speech, writing an open letter to Bishop D'Arcy who made waves by refusing to attend the ceremony. Archbishop Gomez wrote:
We are saddened by the circumstances that made you decide not to attend this year’s commencement ceremonies at the University of Notre Dame, and are writing in total support of your action and its motives. The unfortunate message sent to the nation by the university’s invitation to President Barack Obama to speak at their graduation ceremony is compounded by their decision to provide him an honorary law degree.
We understand and agree with the need to hold the office of President of the United States in high regard and with due respect. However, this action is in direct opposition to the statement published by the U.S. Bishops, "Faithful Citizenship: Civic Responsibility for a New Millennium." That document clearly states the responsibility of a Catholic institution to ". . . not honor those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles. They should not be given awards, honors or platforms which would suggest support for their actions.”
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. At this critical time we cannot afford to send an ambiguous message to our leaders or our people.
We’re sorry that the Administration of the University did not inform you in advance of their intention to invite President Obama. It is our firm conviction that Catholic Universities must work in unity with the local Bishop for the good of the people of God and the Universal Church. We’re sure you recall the words of the Holy Father as he addressed American Catholic educators, that Catholic identity ‘is a question of conviction.
We join you in prayer for President Barak Obama. It is our hope that he will enter into an honest dialogue with Church leaders that will lead him to reconsider his positions on the critical issues in defense of human life at every stage."
The letter was co-signed by Archbishop Gomez's auxiliary bishop.

Support of the Latin Mass

Archbishop Gomez warmly embraced Pope Benedict's motu proprio encouraging the celebration of the pre-Vatican II form of the Latin mass, sometimes called the "Latin Mass" or the Traditional Latin Mass, but known more accurately as the Mass of the "Extraordinary Form" or as the Holy Father calls it, "the Mass of Blessed John XXIII."

At the time, Archbishop Gomez wrote the following to his flock in San Antonio, which is posted on the archdiocesan website:
I welcome the action taken in Pope Benedict XVI’s Apostolic Letter, Summorum Pontificum. I believe that it will open up great possibilities for reconciliation and unity with those who have shown great devotion to the Roman Liturgy prior to reform of 1970. I also believe this will provide Catholics with the opportunity to better understand the continuity between the Roman Missal promulgated by Pope Paul VI, the order of the Mass as we ordinarily celebrate it today, and the Roman Missal promulgated by St. Pius V and published and revised again by Blessed John XXIII. It is my hope that our people will be able to more clearly see the growth and progress we have realized since Vatican II, while at the same time preserving the rich heritage and legacy of the Church.

I trust that we will come to better appreciation that, when we are faithful to the Roman Rite and make it a prayerful celebration of adoration and thanksgiving toGod, it will always be a source of joy and peace, regardless of the language in which we celebrate it.

I have a great love for the Mass as we ordinarily celebrate it today. It meets the mandate of the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council, to simplify the rites and “more readily achieve the devout, active participation of the faithful.” The reverent celebration of the Mass brings people to a rich appreciation of their faith and unites our parish communities in love for the Eucharist.

The 1962 Mass has been celebrated in San Antonio for many years, and has been a special blessing to the archdiocese. Let us follow the leadership of the Holy Father in the spirit of unity and reconciliation, while meeting the varied pastoral needs of the people of the Archdiocese of San Antonio.
One priest who is an advocate of this form of the liturgy has written an account of what has transpired in the diocese of San Antonio, which you can read here.

Personal Encounter

I might also mention that I personally met Archbishop Gomez last year at a conference I was invited to speak at in San Antonio (I have never met the other bishops I write about here). I was especially struck by his warmth. I thoroughly enjoyed a homily he gave at the conference as well as his keynote address at the Saturday night dinner. He's a great bishop and his flock loves him.

Videos of the Archbishop in Action

Here is a link to a video of the Archbishop (which I cannot embed here) speaking about the Sacraments as something more than merely a cultural expression. In addition, take a look at this video in which he speaks about immigration--though once again I must add that the video does not fully explain the Archbishop's views (i.e., he believes that illegal immigrants should face penalties, though he urges that since deporation breaks up families, those who break immigration laws should be punished in some other way).

I also like this short little clip of the beginning of a talk he gave to a Catholic women's conference:

The talk apparently went well--it led this woman to want to do Bible study:

Finally, there is this video he did on the special offering for the Church in Latin America as the Chairman of the Subcommittee on the Church in Latin America:


Anonymous said...

This is such a wonderful development! I'm incredibly impressed wi-- WHOA THAT'S AN UGLIFIED 1970s CHURCH. Sorry about that outburst. I'm still impressed with the choice of +Gomez. :-)

Daniel Humm said...

Archbishop Gomez has had a very friendly relationship with my parish, Our Lady of the Atonement. It is an Anglican Use parish that will likely become part of a Personal Ordinary once established. I believe Cardinal Mahony was opposed to the Anglican Use, so it seems like there will be a greater openness to an Anglican Use parish being established in Los Angeles (though under the Personal Ordinary).

Aaron B. said...

He sounds great; I hope we get someone half as good here in Springfield, Illinois, when our next bishop is chosen.

One small nit to pick, though, only because the Obama administration will soon be making this a very important topic: Deportation doesn't have to break up families. On the contrary, in the many cases where only one family member could afford the price of illegal passage into the country, deportation re-unities the family. In cases where the entire family is already here and only one member gets caught, we should of course offer the entire family free transportation back home together.

Illegal immigration tends to break up families; there's no reason deportation should.

AHarburg said...

Praise the Lord! He is exactly what LA needs.

W. said...

For the NPR interview, you can listen here: http://www.kcrw.com/media-player/mediaPlayer2.html?type=audio&id=ww100406us_policies_in_south.

It begins at 45:20.

Sara said...

For anyone who wants to read Gomez's pastoral letter You Will Be My Witnesses - and it's an excellent letter that everyone should read! - the URL has changed to that it's now at http://www.archsa.org/documents/anv_en.pdf

(The Archdiocese of San Antonio seems to have just recently changed their domain from www.archdiosa.org to the simpler archsa.org)