It seems that the survival of the Catholic Church in the United States depends on a Latin American descent cleric, so it is almost certain that Archbishop Jose Gomez of Los Angeles will be appointed president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops
If this is the case, Gomez would succeed Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, Archbishop of Galveston-Houston (Texas), a fact that will be known during the November 11-14 assembly in Baltimore (Maryland) where the bishops will make the election.
According to data provided by representatives of the Institute for Research and Studies at the Catholic University of Washington, DC, the election of a President of the Episcopal Conference of Latin American descent would be an unprecedented event in the United States, but at the same time a necessity due to a loss of Hispanic faithful and a growing distance from Pope Francis.
In statements to the press by Michael Sean Winters of Catholic University of America, “the only future for the church in the United States is a Latin future.
Gomez, 67, was born in Monterrey, Mexico, and ordained as Opus Dei priest in 1978. He received his theology degree from the University of Navarra and has been bishop of Denver (Colorado) and archbishop of San Antonio (Texas) prior to his assignment to Los Angeles since 2011.
“Archbishop Gomez is a gentle pastor, better known outside his diocese because he advocates generous treatment of migrants,” Russell Shaw told a Spanish news agency. Shaw, was a former public relations secretary for the Episcopal Conference and now teaches at the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross in Rome.
Michael Sean Winters also pointed out that the possible election of Gomez to the presidency of the Conference “will be an important statement in these times when the president (Donald Trump) insults and degrades Mexicans.
A recent Pew Center report found that the proportion of adults in the country who identify themselves as Christians has dropped from 77% a decade ago to 65%. The proportion of Protestants has fallen from 51% to 43%, and that of Catholics from 23% to 20% in the same period. Even so, the more than 70 million Catholics are affiliated with the country’s largest Christian denomination.
But what is alarming for the Catholic Church is that its adherents are no longer a majority among the Hispanic population: only 47% of Hispanics identify themselves as Catholic, compared to 57% a decade ago.
In spite of this, the agenda announced for this conference postpones until 2021 the implementation of programs that emphasize the ecclesiastical ministry more focused on the population of Latin American origin and ancestry.
An interesting opinion
The Spanish editorial group that obtained these data for its subscribers noted that the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, which was formed in 1966 and is known by its acronym USCCB, will hold its sessions, while the gap between Pope Francis and the hierarchy of the Church in the United States widens.
“In the Anglo realm there is a virtual schism with people who hate the pope,” Winters said. “And in the age of Trump it is difficult to avoid the conclusion that there is certain racism in these two matters: the distance from the pope and the lack of action about Hispanics.”
In his opinion, most U.S. Catholic bishops prefer to set aside their Church’s teachings on social justice and focus more on moral issues, “as if the only thing that matters in social life is abortion.
Denial and positions
In addition to the election of a new president and other offices, the USCCB will select from a list of already disclosed candidates the bishops who will head various conference committees.
“The list of bishops presented by their peers for senior positions in the conference is under careful scrutiny by those who have followed the twists and turns in the relationship between Rome and the Church in the United States,” Russell Shaw said, adding that “things have reached a point where even the Pope himself has spoken as if there were a real possibility of an American schism.”
Shaw said that “any outstanding issues in the relationship between the U.S. Bishops and the Holy See will likely be addressed in the course of the bishops’ periodic visits to Rome to meet with the Pope”
“There is no schism in American Catholicism, and there won’t be,” Shaw concluded.
Translated by: José Espinoza