Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Reception Eve

Little did they know it, but the handful of folks milling around in the Cathedral Plaza at mid-afternoon got to see one of those quiet moments from which history is made.

Clad in an open shirt, ring conspicuous by its absence, Roger Michael Mahony -- native son, lightning rod, folk icon, second founder of the LA church -- emerged from his residence bearing a white tube, taking it across the space into the cathedral he built.

The tube contained the papal bull appointing his successor.

Just another of those things you can't see on TV... and another reason why it's such a treat to be covering this on the ground.

* * *
Of course, no shortage of buzz has been tossed about since 6 April on the contrasts -- real, imagined, and both -- between the hometown cardinal and his Mexican-born, Opus Dei-formed successor.

Then again, especially given the nominee's background in the church's lone personal prelature, much of this has quickly veered into hyperbole -- a British newspaper wildly mused that the appointment of José Gomez was Rome's "revenge on Hollywood" for The DaVinci Code... and, admittedly, some of the locals remain hopped up along similar lines.

To be sure, in any transition, there's going to be some degree of evolution and change. Still, it bears noting that Gomez's calm, gradual approach to tweaking things was such that, in San Antonio, criticism that the archbishop was given to moving like "molasses" came from his right flank.

For purposes of the optimal context you'll find at this point, it's well worth looking to the foundational texts of tenures present and future: for Mahony and today's LA church, the signal document remains 2000's As I Have Done for You -- the Jubilee Year pastoral on ministry written by the cardinal in conjunction with his presbyterate, which helped lay the foundations for the landmark 2003 Synod. In Gomez's case, the vision of church is most extensively articulated in You Will Be My Witnesses -- the framework pastoral the incoming archbishop released in February on his fifth anniversary in San Antonio.

So if it's the tea leaves you're interested in, read both, compare and contrast.

* * *
And lastly, the final numbers have been released on tomorrow's attendance -- six cardinals (led by the native son, now CDF prefect, William Levada), some 60 bishops, just over 400 clergy, and a ticket-only crowd expected to skirt 4,000.

Get ready, folks -- for all the installations we've seen over the years, smart money says this one's gonna be in a class by itself.

SVILUPPO: Lest anyone was curious, the coadjutor's Ford Taurus has, indeed, made the trip from San Antonio.

Meanwhile, in tribute to tomorrow's rites, Wednesday's LATimes profiles a typical parish in this largest Stateside church -- one that's diverse, revived, and "thriving."