Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Houston and "Hollywood" – With New Top Team, US Bench Chooses the Spotlight... and History

To no one's surprise, the first ballot of this Tuesday's election produced the next President of the United States (Bishops) – keeping with the body's half-century custom, the incumbent VP, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, was given the chief's chair with an easy 55 percent of the vote.

Once the traditional formality wrapped up, the selection of DiNardo's deputy indeed produced a choice between the respective lead contenders from the "messenger" and "manager" schools, with the premier option among the former – Archbishop José Gomez of Los Angeles – taking the post in a 131-84 result over one of the top masters of Mothership process, New Orleans' Archbishop Gregory Aymond.

With the outcome, the incoming executive team already enjoys a solid relationship, DiNardo and Gomez having spent five years together as the twin archbishops of Texas. Given the fresh charge for solidarity with immigrants shared by Pope Francis and the Stateside bench, however, the collision course between the church's stance and that of the impending Trump administration makes the choice of a Mexican-born migrant, as well as the first Hispanic ever raised into the USCCB's topmost leadership – and with it, Gomez's positioning as the body's first Latino chief come 2019 – an all the more potent signal. (To be sure, from the outset of last weekend's committee meetings, the LA prelate's searing homily in defense of the undocumented at a sudden prayer service for healing in the secular campaign's wake was seen to have made a profound impact among this electorate.)

Considering DiNardo's longstanding all-in role helping to guide the Texas' bishops decades-old focus on immigration issues as the state's top prelate, the body's movement to put Gomez at his side on the national stage indeed represents a doubling-down on the premier fault-line between the US' largest religious body and January's reality of a Republican White House and Congress.

Developing – more to come.

SVILUPPO: While the new executive will make its first appearance at a 12.30pm ET news conference, Gomez's road-team onsite has released an extensive statement from the Vice President-elect:
I am honored and humbled by this election. And I am grateful to my brother bishops for their confidence in me.

This is really about the whole family of God in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, not only me. I think this is recognition that the Church is alive and growing in Los Angeles and that we are doing great things in spreading the Gospel and serving our brothers and sisters in need.

I also think this is a recognition of how important Latino Catholics are to the growth and the future of the Church.

So I look forward to working with my friend, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, and all my brother bishops, to serve the family of God here in the United States.

I am especially looking forward to working on the Fifth Encuentro and the Convocation on the Joy of the Gospel in the Americas. Both of these initiatives will bring great blessings to our Church and will help us to inspire and raise up a new generation of missionary disciples.

It is also a joy and a blessing that my brother, Auxiliary Bishop Robert Barron of Los Angeles, was elected today to be the chairman of the bishops’ Committee on Evangelization and Catechesis. I am happy for him and I know he will help the bishops do great things to advance the Church’s mission.

These are challenging times for the Church in our society. But we go with God and every Catholic knows that we have a great mission — to share the good news about God and to tell our brothers and about his mercy and his beautiful plan for our lives and our world.

We also need to continue our important work so that our society respects the sanctity and dignity of every human person — from the child in the womb, to the immigrant who does not have “papers,” to the elderly and the terminally ill.

So I am entrusting everything to Our Lady of Guadalupe and I am grateful for this chance to proclaim the joy of the Gospel and help build God’s Kingdom here in the United States and throughout the Americas.