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L.A. Catholics welcome Coadjutor Archbishop

May 26, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
Local Catholics joined together Wednesday and welcomed the future leader of the Los Angeles Archdiocese. Archbishop Jose Gomez was appointed by Pope Benedict to succeed Cardinal Roger Mahony. An invitation-only Mass of Reception took place at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, where 4,000 guests including cardinals, bishops, deacons and religious orders and representatives from the hundreds of churches in the archdiocese filled the cathedral.

"It's a Mass receiving this new archbishop, welcoming him to Los Angeles. He doesn't know a soul here, not one person, so this is our way, bring him in formally," said Tod Tamberg, spokesman for the L.A. Archdiocese.

Tamberg said a letter from Pope Benedict will be read at the Mass appointing him as the coadjutor archbishop, the cardinal will show the letter to the whole congregation, then he will ask if they will receive him.

"Everybody applauds and says, 'Yes,' and then he begins his time as coadjutor archbishop of Los Angeles, and he'll spend the next year with Cardinal Mahony," Tamberg said.

Mahony presided over the afternoon Mass.

"As I near the end of my time of tending this corner of the vineyard, the shepherd's staff is being passed to Archbishop Gomez. Mahony goes, Gomez comes, but Christ alone endures," said Mahony at the Mass. "A good shepherd here will of necessity work tirelessly for just immigration policies and for the protection of the dignity of all of our immigrants.

Gomez will be the first Latino archbishop of the L.A. Archdiocese, which is the largest archdiocese in North America.

"May this church be a sign that god is with us. And that in his loving eyes, no is a stranger from him and no one is an alien for any of us," said Gomez during the Mass.

Gomez was born in Monterrey, Mexico, and was ordained a priest of Opus Dei in 1978. He is one of only 22 bishops around the world belonging to the conservative order. His early priesthood was spent in Texas, where he has family.

Before Mass, some shared their views of what their expectations are of the future leader of the archdiocese.

"The challenge of any archbishop is the spiritual development of his people, and that spirituality will transfer into good, the good of all the people," said Sister Imelda Marie Gallegos of the Franciscan Order of Immaculate Conception.

"Meeting the needs of all these diverse people is going to be very challenging. I'm thrilled he's Latino. I think that's wonderful for the church," said parishioner Carrie Sevenius.

Mahony has headed the diocese for nearly 25 years, but in recent years, he dealt with a major clergy sex abuse scandal that was settled with the Church agreeing to pay a record $600 million to more than 500 alleged victims.

The church requires Mahony to retire when he turns 75 years old, which will happen next February 27.

Gomez will have to oversee the fallout from the abuse scandal. A federal grand jury continues to investigate how the L.A. Archdiocese handled the claims of abuse.

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