Cardinal Mahony praises his new coadjutor as ‘most effective leader’

By Catholic News Service

LOS ANGELES (CNS) — Cardinal Roger M. Mahony praised his new coadjutor, Archbishop Jose H. Gomez, as "a most effective leader" working with priests serving the Spanish-speaking communities across the country.

"His leadership in proclaiming the dignity and rights of our immigrant peoples has helped motivate many people to advocate for our immigrants," said the cardinal, who noted that Archbishop Gomez is the Chair-elect of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Migration

Surrounded by Easter lilies in front of the archbishop’s chair in the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, the cardinal introduced Archbishop Gomez of San Antonio as coadjutor archbishop of Los Angeles at an April 6 press conference.

Pope Benedict XVI named the 58-year-old Texas archbishop as coadjutor April 6. He will automatically become head of the archdiocese upon Cardinal Mahony’s retirement. The cardinal will turn 75 next February, the age at which bishops are required by canon law to submit their resignation to the pope.

He is the first Latino archbishop to serve the archdiocese and the third Mexican native to be a Los Angeles prelate. The first was Bishop Francisco Garcia Diego Moreno, a Franciscan who was the first bishop of both Californias — the territory that became the U.S. state of California in 1850 and Mexico’s Baja California. The second is one of the archdiocese’s six current auxiliaries, Bishop Gabino Zavala.

Born in Monterrey, Mexico, Archbishop Gomez became a U.S. citizen in 1995.

He stood alongside Cardinal Mahony as he was introduced to the press. Seated behind the two prelates were Bishop Zavala, Auxiliary Bishops Gerald E. Wilkerson, Oscar A. Solis, Alexander Salazar and Edward Clark, and retired Auxiliary Bishop Joseph M. Sartoris.

The cardinal said he had urged the selection of a Hispanic as the next archbishop of Los Angeles; Hispanics make up 41 percent of the total population of the three counties that comprise the archdiocese. He noted that Archbishop Gomez is chairman-elect of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Migration.

Archbishop Gomez also admitted that he needed prayers "for conversion."

"My basketball team has always been the San Antonio Spurs," he said with a smile. "I need to become a Los Angeles Lakers’ fan."

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