Friday, December 17, 2010
This Act gives a path to legal residency to those young men and women brought here as children under the age of 16, and requires them to attend college or university classes for two years, or to serve in the military.
These young people are not a threat to our country; rather, they are a great blessing and hope because they want to use their talents and education to improve their lives and the quality of life for all Americans. These young people are for all purposes really "Americans" since this is the only country they have known, the one they love, and the one they wish to build up.
Pass the DREAM Act is not amnesty because these young people have to work hard for several years and earn their new legal status. No one is simply handing it to them.
I have met many of these young people and I am impressed with their only goal: to give and to contribute to the betterment of our communities and our country. They are not here "to take" but "to give" to our country.
I urge the U.S. Senate to vote "yes" tomorrow to pass the DREAM Act. I urge all of you to call your own Senators and urge them to vote in favor of this important Act.
[DREAM Act: The Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors
Sunday, November 21, 2010
But today's Editorial in the Fresno Bee offers one of the clearest insights into the whole issue, and I reprint it here so that many more people can reflect upon it. I am pleased that the recommendations made in the Editorial track perfectly with the recommendations which the Catholic Church has been making on immigration reform for many years.
EDITORIAL: Sorting out hypocrisy on illegal immigration
If we are looking for villains, we should look in the mirror.
[Posted at 12:00 AM on Sunday, Nov. 21, 2010]
Illegal immigration is a hot-button topic among politicians and voters, so you'd think the nation would have the political will to fix its broken immigration system. But the dirty little secret is that too many of us benefit from illegal immigration to do something about it.
A weeklong series in The Bee by Chris Collins exposed the widespread hypocrisy surrounding illegal immigration and the reasons that Democrats and Republicans refuse to act -- beyond the demagoguing of the issue at public appearances. Americans say they oppose illegal immigration, but have come to expect its advantages, including low grocery prices and cheap yardwork and housecleaning services.
In the San Joaquin Valley, our major industry relies heavily on the labor of illegal workers. What would happen to our multibillion-dollar agricultural industry -- the foundation of the region's economy -- if illegal immigration were stopped in its tracks?
The Bee series also pointed out that illegal immigrants don't just work in agriculture. They are in restaurants, hotels and construction. They supply cheap labor that keep our costs down when we buy meals or rent hotel rooms.
If we are looking for villains, we should look in the mirror.
This is a key passage in The Bee series: "Some experts predict that the system will always be broken because too many people don't want change -- even if they say they do. Farmers get cheap labor, illegal immigrants get jobs, consumers pay less for services. No one wants to make difficult reforms that would disrupt this balance."
It's easy for illegal immigrants to get forged documents, and many employers don't even use E-Verify, the online government program to check an employee's legal status. To add to the hypocrisy, Congress won't even agree to make E-Verify a permanent program.
It's no wonder that there's no political will to implement meaningful immigration reform. Some don't even want to acknowledge the problem, contending that the term "undocumented worker" would be more fair than "illegal immigrant." On the other hand, the silence is deafening from businesses that benefit from the illegal immigrants. That is, until they are faced with aggressive enforcement. Then the businesses cry loudly.
Unfortunately, racism, bigotry and hatred are at the heart of some critics of immigration. But let us not forget that if all American immigrants were to "go home," we would be left with only Native Americans.
It is not racist, however, to tell the truth, and it is a fact that these immigrants are here illegally. Glossing it over with politically correct terms like "undocumented worker" only further obscures the real issues. Additionally, the use of this unproductive politically correct terminology only further inflames the issue.
We have long supported a comprehensive immigration reform that deals with the major challenges. That reform should include:
Enhanced border security to limit the growth of illegal immigration. That would also make our nation safer from terrorists intent on doing damage to our country.
We need a fair guest-worker program that provides a reliable pool of workers to industries needing foreign laborers.
There also should be an opportunity for those already here illegally to earn legal residency if they meet strict requirements, including paying fines and showing they have had a responsible work history.
We also believe the DREAM Act is a fair method to give legal status to those who have earned that right, and then to eventually pursue citizenship if they desire.
President George W. Bush offered a wise immigration reform package in 2007. But it fell apart in the Senate when Republicans and Democrats blocked it. They didn't want to fix the broken system because both parties had constituencies that benefited from the status quo.
We could solve the illegal immigration problem. But as The Bee series pointed out over the past week, that would threaten a way of life that works for too many people and business interests in America.
[Tell us what you think. Comment on this editorial by going to fresnobee.com/opinion, then click on the editorial.]
To access the entire series in the Fresno Bee, go to: http://fresnobee.com/indenial
Friday, November 19, 2010
Advent is rightfully called a “new beginning” since God’s plan of salvation is lived out yet anew year after year.
Advent 2010 has an added feature since we now begin a year-long preparation for the use of the new Roman Missal which has been recently translated more accurately into today’s English. This third edition of the Roman Missal in English will be used starting with the first Sunday of Advent 2011.
Priests, deacons, religious, various ministers, choirs, and all of the Catholics of our Archdiocese will be given special sessions to prepare to celebrate the Mass in English according to the new translation. The new translation has many word changes because this translation is more fully faithful to the original Latin text.
Preparing ourselves for new wording and new responses at Mass is only part of the “new beginning” which we will celebrate as Advent 2011 begins next year. I am hopeful that these months of catechesis will help us renew our understanding of the Eucharist in our lives as Catholics. As Catholics, we are singularly a “Eucharistic Church.” Our celebration of the Eucharist from the earliest days of the apostles, and down through history, distinguishes us from all other Churches who call themselves Christian.
The Eucharist is one of God’s greatest gifts to us in and through his Son, Jesus Christ. Recall the two men journeying to Emmaus on that first Easter Sunday afternoon who encountered the Risen Jesus without knowing it was him, and then their eyes were opened as he sat at table with them and “broke the bread” for them—then vanishing from their sight.
We must recall that in the consecrated bread and wine, we truly receive Jesus Christ, body and blood, soul and divinity. The bread and wine are totally changed from the appearances of bread and wine into the very Body and Blood of our Risen Savior, Jesus Christ.
As Catholics, our faith in the total transformation of the bread and wine distinguishes us from many other Christian Churches. We do not believe that the bread and wine simply serve as “reminders” or “symbols” of the Last Supper. Rather, we believe that the bread and wine are changed substantially into Christ’s Body and Blood—usually referred to with the term “transubstantiation”.
The Advent season we begin this year will be a time of preparation and renewal of our love for the Eucharist. The changes in wording and translation are only secondary to the great mystery of our Faith—receiving the sacred Body and Blood of Jesus Christ!
Monday, November 15, 2010
In a 7 to 0 unanimous opinion written by Justice Ming W. Chin, the State's highest Court decided that such students entering State colleges or universities are not required to pay out of state tuition rates.
This decision will affect about 25,000 undocumented students enrolled in the State's colleges and universities. And although eligible for the in-state tuition, such students are not eligible for government financial aid programs.
This is good news for all Californians! Virtually all undocumented students were brought to this country by family members; they did not decide on their own to come to our country.
Having these young people well educated helps fill our State's need for a more highly trained workforce, especially as thousands of baby-boomers begin to retire.
Now Congress and the President need to take the next step as early as possible: pass the DREAM Act so that these students who graduate from our colleges and universities can be placed on a path towards legal residency and eventual citizenship. I am hopeful that during this lame-duck session of Congress the leadership might put this legislation forward for a full vote in the House and Senate.
To maintain a punitive posture towards our undocumented young people who graduate from colleges and universities is not only against the American spirit, that attitude deprives our country of the benefit from an upcoming well educated work force.
Let's continue our collective efforts to pass the elements of immigration reform--either one by one, or as a comprehensive piece of legislation.
"For I was a stranger, and you welcomed me" (Matthew 25:35)
Monday, October 18, 2010
Since the Second Vatican Council, the Church has recognized six historic Catholic Churches of the Middle East as Churches of equal dignity with the Latin Church: the Armenian, Chaldean, Coptic, Maronite, Melkite, and Syrian. In our Archdiocese we are blessed to have all six of these Churches present. In addition, we also have many Eastern Rite Churches with roots in India, northern Africa, and Europe.
The past several years have been extremely difficult for our Eastern Catholic Churches because of wars, political tensions, and economic sanctions imposed upon Christians throughout the area. These problems have prompted many Christians to flee for safer homes and more equal opportunities in Latin America, the United States, Canada, South Africa, and Australia.
The Church around the world welcomes our Eastern Rite brothers and sisters and attempts to provide them new opportunities in our midst. We encourage the Eastern Rite members to remain faithful to their own Eastern Churches, and not to leave them for the Roman Catholic parishes nearby.
But there is also a new phenomenon affecting the Churches in the Middle East: the Latin Catholic population is expanding rapidly across the Persian Gulf States and in Saudi Arabia. Most of these are guest workers primarily from the Philippines and throughout South Asia.
Some two million of these live in Saudi Arabia but they are forbidden to practice their Faith because the public observance of Christianity is prohibited.
Increased efforts are underway to find new avenues of pastoral ministry for these Catholics who are living in countries with a strict Islamic code of conduct, thus forbidding other religions to function.
We are at the half-way point in the Synod, and are now developing proposals for Pope Benedict XVI to consider when the Synod ends. These proposals would be developed into an Apostolic Exhortation by the Pope, usually issued a year after the Synod.
But in the meantime, all of us from the Eastern and Western Churches are determined to move forward quickly with renewed bonds of friendship and to initiate new avenues of cooperation and collaboration for the good of both emigrants from the Middle East and immigrants to the Middle East.
Monday, October 4, 2010
California Governor candidate Meg Whitman stirred up a hornets nest last week when she admitted that her housekeeper for some nine years was undocumented.
But I've got news for everyone: All of us at least indirectly hire undocumented workers, and many directly hire them. Normal life and business in Southern California would come to a screeching halt without undocumented workers doing all kinds of important work to sustain us all: planting and harvesting our food, caring for our children in homes or day care centers, mowing our lawns and maintaining our yards, cleaning rooms in our hotels and motels, washing our cars, doing our dry cleaning and laundry, and performing the laborer tasks on many construction jobs.
But undocumented workers are also doing far more important tasks as well: serving as cooks and chefs in our restaurants, operating outdoor machinery of all kinds, caring for our sick and elderly, assisting in many medical and dental offices, and working alongside engineers out in the field.
Recently I was at an Embassy Suites hotel here in Los Angeles, and I told the manager that it seemed like everyone on his hotel staff were immigrants. He looked at me with surprise, and told me: "Well of course, only immigrants come here and apply for jobs. Do you think ordinary 'Americans' are going to do any of this kind of work?"
The California State Employment Dept. regularly advertises all across the state for people to work in the harvest of peaches, plums, nectarines, grapes, and all kinds of fruits and vegetables. Guess how many 'Americans' show up for this type of employment--you're correct, practically no one.
And yet, immigrants--both documented and undocumented--are actually subsidizing our family food bills. These workers usually earn minimum wage, and work for staggered periods of time. That's why in this country we pay only 9.5% of our annual income for food--the lowest percentage in the world. Other countries and their percentage of income spent for food: United Kingdom, 11%; Japan, 17%; South Africa, 27%; India, 53%.
And why? Because immigrants are subsidizing our food production and processing with their low wages, few worker benefits, and unsteady employment.
This is just one more reason that we need to open our eyes and look around to see how vital immigrants are to the prosperity and well-being of our country. And why we need to enact federal law to help bring our immigrant brothers and sisters out from the shadows and help them become legal residents here.
Yes, ALL of us employ undocumented workers, both directly and indirectly. Let's appreciate them and work to respect their rights in our midst.
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
The Catholic Church in our country has long favored passage of the Development,Relief and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act. Passage of the Act would offer a pathway to legal residency and eventual citizenship for undocumented children and young people who were brought to our country by their parents. Many of these youth came as young as one year old and have known no other country except the United States.
If these undocumented young people attend a college or university, or join the military, they become eligible to begin down the pathway to full legal status.
I have met with enthusiastic young men and women who graduate from a college or university here in Los Angeles, but because they lack legal papers, they cannot find employment. The same is true of these young people who join a branch of the military. That makes no sense whatsoever.
I met recently a young man who just graduated from a major university in Los Angeles with his degree in engineering. He is so anxious to put his education and skills at the service of our country and our community, but lacks legal residency papers.
What a waste of the gifts and talents of these young people all across the country.
The DREAM Act is not amnesty. Rather, it is the recognition that in our midst are many young people who only know one country: the United States. And they want to contribute to building up our country.
I urge all the members of the U.S. Senate to see how the DREAM Act will genuinely benefit our country, and to vote for its passage next week.
To hear some stories from these young people, please visit the website below:
Monday, September 6, 2010
The small town of Oberammergau, in the Bavarian part of Germany, was hit by the plague. The townspeople rallied together and in 1633 said that if God spared them from any further disease and death, they would put on a Passion Play every 10 years to commemorate this blessing. The disease stopped, and no further deaths occurred.
In 1634, the townspeople put on their first Passion Play to commemorate the life, sufferings, death, and resurrection of Jesus. Now, 376 years later, the people in this small town continue to put on a spectacular re-enactment of Jesus' final days. Some 2,000 villagers participate in the Passion Play, which takes almost a full year to prepare.
Those in the Passion Play must be residents of Oberammeergau for several years, and must commit to participating in the Play from mid-May through early October. The men begin growing beards and long hair on Ash Wednesday of the previous year--in this case, 2009.
The theater holds 4,500 people and pilgrims come from all over the world to witness this deeply moving spiritual event. This was my first visit for the Passion Play, and since I am 74 now, it is highly unlikely that I would be able to attend in 2020.
The Play follows the Gospel accounts very closely, but also links several Old Testament events to the life of Jesus and God's plan of salvation for the human family.
The staging of the Passion Play is remarkable, and with 2,000 villagers participating, all of the scenes calling for large numbers of people are carried out with huge crowds on stage. The music, the singing, the rapidly changing sets, and the flow of the Gospel events are captivating.
What I found so stunning was that those carrying out the various parts in the Play seem real--not like professional actors. You immediately relate to the person of Jesus, Mary, the Apostles, and all of those involved in the Gospel narratives.
The Passion Play is presented in two parts: Part I begins at 2:30 PM and runs to about 5:00 PM. There is a dinner break, and Part II starts at 8:00 PM, ending about 11:15 PM. Even with over five hours of presentation, the time goes by very quickly.
The final Resurrection scene is dramatically presented, and the entire Play is a deeply inspiring spiritual tableau.
I leave this delightful town with a renewed understanding of those final days of Jesus' life, and the incredible personal sacrifice which he made for us.
If you can't attend in 2010, be sure to make plans to attend in 2020--the next time the Play will be presented.
Their website: www.oberammergau-passion.com
Wednesday, August 4, 2010
There is only one issue before each of us Californians: Is Marriage of Divine or of Human Origin?
Judge Walker pays no attention to this fundamental issue, and relies solely upon how Prop 8 made certain members of society "feel" about themselves.
Those of us who supported Prop 8 and worked for its passage did so for one reason: We truly believe that Marriage was instituted by God for the specific purpose of carrying out God's plan for the world and human society. Period.
Every single religious faith community in our known history has held this belief since recorded history began. Every indigenous group discovered down through history also understood this belief about marriage, and carried out cultural and religious practices to sustain that belief. Marriage is of divine origin, and that belief is embedded deeply into the heart and spirit of human beings--also described as the natural law for the human family.
Judge Walker assumes that the institution of marriage is of human and civil origin, and therefore, that "marriage" can mean anything any person wishes to ascribe to the institution. Wrong.
The union of a man and of a woman in a life-long loving and caring relationship is of divine origin. No human nor civil power can decree or declare otherwise.
It is too bad that Judge Walker chose to listen to anguished voices about their perception of marriage rather than plumb the depths of the origin of this divinely inspired institution.
For many of us, we will continue to believe that God is the origin of marriage, and we will follow God's constant revelation to that effect.
We in the Roman Catholic Community are totally "pro-marriage" and "pro-family" precisely in the understanding God gave when the first human beings received the breath of God's spirit.
Wednesday, July 28, 2010
July 28, 2010
I am grateful that U.S. District Court Judge Susan Bolton ruled today that the most egregious sections of the Arizona Senate Bill 1070 were not allowable under Federal law and ordered those halted.
This entire Arizona attempt to deal with various immigration issues outside Federal law reveals once again the level of frustration across the country that the U.S. Congress will not deal with the pressing issue of needed immigration reform. Without needed Congressional action, local communities and states will continue to propose stop-gap measures which do not address all aspects of needed immigration reform.
Recently I posted on my blog below an article entitled Common Ground for Immigration Reform? The article can be found at: http://cardinalrogermahonyblogsla.blogspot.com/
In that piece I share the results of many conversations with people over the past months about immigration reform. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that when presented with each of the elements of an all-inclusive immigration reform package, most Americans favored almost all of the separate elements.
I also recommend that those opposed to such all-inclusive immigration reform refrain from using the word “amnesty” to apply to a long, arduous, and costly process towards legal residence for those millions of people living in the shadows of our society.
Let us as fellow Americans now start in earnest our collective efforts to resolve the immigration issues which continue to surround us.
Monday, July 12, 2010
Cardinal Roger M. Mahony
The recent enactment of Senate Bill 1070 in Arizona has rekindled the national debate on the status of immigrants in our country and drawn attention to the glaring gap in effective immigration regulation.
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN RESPONSIBILITIES The nations whose citizens must migrate to other countries for decent employment have the primary responsibility to provide economic development and decent job opportunities for their people. Too many national governments have simply not taken their responsibility seriously and have become part of the problem, rather than part of the solution. The majority of Americans want our government to pressure so-called “sending countries” to increase significantly their economic development at home. It is absurd for these sending countries to invest their scarce resources in more highly developed countries in order to earn a higher rate of return. Our country—the most powerful economically in this hemisphere and perhaps the world—must help bring this about through international economic policies which facilitate sustainable development in these sending countries.
MORE SECURE BORDERS Of the individuals and groups with whom I have discussed immigration reform, nearly everyone believes that our Federal Government has not taken all of the steps possible to secure our national borders. However, we need to remember that there are five national borders, not one or two: the Canadian border [3,987 miles], the Mexican border [1,933 miles], the Pacific coast boarder, and the Atlantic coast border. Few people realize that our nation’s airports welcome countless visitors on visas, but these visitors never leave the country when their visas expire. The government estimates that of the 12 million people in our country without documents, a full 40% have come on visas and have never left. That’s almost 5 million people .
At the same time, we have spent over $100 million on immigration enforcement over the past ten years, yet the number of undocumented in our country has grown.
While almost everyone agrees that our borders must be made more secure, how does anyone secure 5,920 miles of open land border so that it cannot be crossed?
Take the border with Mexico, for example. If the government placed a border guard every 100 yards—the length of a football field—it would take 34,020 guards on duty 24/7 to keep an eye on that 100 yards.
BALANCE BETWEEN THE NEED FOR WORKERS AND THE SUPPLY OF WORKERS It is the imbalance between the need for workers and the supply of workers in our country which is the root of much of our immigration problem. In times of economic growth, the need for workers usually outpaces the supply—especially in agriculture and the many service industries. Since there is no workable system in place to handle that imbalance, a vacuum is created—a vacuum that is filled by undocumented workers being attracted to readily available jobs. In times of recession, that imbalance is reversed—and many undocumented people are out of work.
The long-term projections for our future workforce show clearly that with future economic growth, the lack of workers across the board will be heightened because of the babyboomers entering retirement by the thousands week after week.
Most people agree that there is not yet in place any workable system to handle the peaks and valleys of employment needs. What is needed is a program which allows unskilled workers to enter the country and work legally, based upon economic needs. Such a program must ensure that both the rights of United States and foreign-born workers are respected.
AG JOBS There seems to be a greater consensus among members of Congress and the nation’s citizens that the agriculture industry has need of employees in various cycles: irrigation, pruning, harvesting, packing and shipping, and the like. Well over 50 % of farm workers in this country—those who pick the fruits and vegetables we eat every day—are undocumented. The Agricultural Jobs, Opportunity, and Benefits (Ag Jobs) portion of immigration reform, which would legalize farm workers and streamline their entrance into the country, could proceed forward quickly if there were the political will to make it happen.
DREAM ACT The Dream Act would allow the children of undocumented immigrants who were brought here by their parents at an early age to enter colleges and universities, graduate, and become legal residents contributing to the well-being of our communities and nation. To deny these students this opportunity deprives the country of large numbers of skilled employees to meet our future workforce needs.
Again, the majority of people believe that children who were brought to our country by adults should not be penalized in their own education and their advancement for the betterment of our country.
PATH TOWARDS LEGAL RESIDENCY This is the one area of immigration reform which creates sharp divisions among us. Many contend that by allowing undocumented people to stay in this country and to start down a path to legal residency is nothing by “amnesty.” But what is being proposed is not amnesty. It is helpful to review the commonly held definitions of “amnesty”: “the act of an authority (as a government) by which pardon is granted to a large group of individuals;” “a general pardon for offenses, especially political offenses, against a government, often granted before any trial or conviction;” “an act of forgiveness for past offenses, especially to a class of persons as a whole;” “a forgetting or overlooking of any past offense.”
But none of us is proposing general pardon, forgetting, or overlooking of the past without penalty or stringent obligations. Immigrants here without permission would be required to pay for their transgression and “get right” with the law, then earn their way toward eventual citizenship. This is not amnesty.
What elements might make up a path towards legal residency?
• Register with the Federal Government. Each undocumented person would have to present himself/herself before the government, give their name, address, be fingerprinted, and be registered by the government. Each person would then be given a temporary entry-level residence card and would be placed in the back of the line for permanent residency, after those who have applied through the proper channels. This is not amnesty.
• Pay Fines After registering. Each person would be required to pay a fine because of their illegal entry into our country. This is not amnesty.
• Pay All Taxes. Each person would be required to compute, verify, and pay all taxes—such as Social Security—before proceeding down the path. This is not amnesty.
• Learn Conversational English. Each person would be required to begin learning and speaking English, and to be tested on their English proficiency. This is not amnesty.
• Time Frame Once all of these requirements are met, the person is given a longer residency status by the government, known as permanent residence status, or a “green card.” They would then, like other permanent residents, wait another five years to apply for citizenship. At that time, they would have to meet all the requirements of a United States citizen—English writing and reading proficiency, a knowledge of United States history, and other requirements. This is not amnesty.
The overall common good of our nation and its citizens demand early action on all-inclusive measures to repair our current unworkable immigration system. Each day that goes by without Congressional action, new and deeper levels of fear and desperation take a terrible toll on so many people living in the shadows of our society. There is general agreement among the American public as to the solution to our nation’s broken immigration system. Now our elected officials need to show the courage to enact it.
There is no excuse for inaction on what is perhaps the country’s most pressing social problem—all-inclusive immigration reform.
Sunday, June 6, 2010
On June 5 it was my privilege to ordain to the Sacred Priesthood three wonderful men: Raymond Marquez, Bao Nguyen, and Larry Revilla.
Although we only had three candidates this year, the number of new men considering the priesthood and the number in the incoming classes are a hopeful sign for our Archdiocese.
My theme for the homily was that on their Ordination Day they receive a new title: "Father." For the rest of their lives they will be approached and addressed by that endearing new title, a title that resonates through the Hebrew Scriptures and especially in the Christian Scriptures.
Jesus so often specifically addresses his Father in heaven by name. When multiplying the loaves and fishes, he "raises his eyes to the Father." When in the Garden of Olives, he tearfully prays, "Father, if it be your will, let this cup pass me by. But not my will, but yours be done." And on the Cross he prays, "Father, forgive them." And finally, "Father, into your hands I commend my spirit."
As priests we are approached so often by people: "Father, I'm really have problems. Can I speak to you?" Or in the hospital, "Father, help us to understand this terrible illness our father is enduring."
And almost daily, "Father, can I have your blessing?"
Most precious of all, "Bless me, Father, for I have sinned."
Yes, and occasionally, "Father, can you spare any extra change?"
We priests need to live out the dignity and awesome meaning of our title, "Father." As I near retirement, I look forward to being known once again by the name I love so dearly--"Father."
May our Father in Heaven bless our three new "Fathers" with grace and blessing over their entire priestly lives!!
Wednesday, May 26, 2010
Cardinal Roger M. Mahony
May 26, 2010
Ezekiel 34: 11-16
I still vividly remember that morning of October 27, 2008, when I celebrated Mass at the Tomb of St. Peter. That sacred time prepared me well for my meeting just two hours later with the Successor to St. Peter, our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI.
I explained that in 2010 I would have served as Archbishop of Los Angeles for 25 years, and that, in early 2011, I would reach age 75. I proposed that he consider appointing a Coadjutor Archbishop for Los Angeles, a new Shepherd who would come in 2010 to labor with me before becoming Archbishop of this portion of the Lord’s Vineyard in early 2011.
Subsequently, Pope Benedict approved my request. Then followed a process which, happily, culminated in the appointment of my friend and brother, Archbishop José Gomez, whom we formally and warmly welcome today.
Today’s liturgical celebration connects us to Jesus’ commissioning of Peter to serve as the head, the rock, of his Church. Our English translation of the words of the Gospel we have heard does not convey the depth of this commissioning: “…and upon this rock I shall build my Church” is far too static a translation of the Greek οικοδομήσϣ. Rather the words of Jesus ring out: “…and upon this rock I shall be building up my Church.” It is Jesus himself who is the cornerstone of God’s plan of salvation in every age. Jesus is the foundation, the source and sustainer of continuity in the Church. He is ever at work in building up his Church. Jesus alone is the supreme shepherd of the flock.
Nuestra celebración litúrgica de hoy nos conecta con la comisión extraordinaria que nuestro Señor Jesucristo extiende a Pedro para que sea la cabeza, la roca de su Iglesia. La traducción en inglés del Evangelio de Mateo que acabamos de escuchar no acaba de expresar adecuadamente la profundidad de esta comisión de Jesús: “…y sobre esta roca construiré mi Iglesia.” Esta versión es demasiado estática, una traducción demasiado tímida de la palabra griega οικοδομήσϣ. Jesús verdaderamente proclamó: “…y sobre esta roca yo estaré construyendo mi Iglesia.” Jesús mismo es la misma piedra angular del plan salvador de Dios en cada siglo. Es Jesús quien es el mero corazón y la esencia de la verdadera continuidad en la Iglesia. Jesús, y sólo él, es el pastor supremo de su rebaño.
Today we recognize that Jesus is present in our midst as when he commissioned Peter. 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. Christ alone endures. The Church’s foundation and its future is not in either one of us. Our foundation and our future are in Christ alone. So we give thanks for the enduring presence of Christ in the Church through the Spirit.
Cuando estoy a punto de terminar el período de pastorear este pedazo de la viña del Señor, el báculo es pasado al Arzobispo José Gomez. Mahony se va; llega Gomez. Sólo Jesucristo continúa. La vida de la Iglesia no tiene su fundamento o su futuro en ninguno de nosotros.
Since my ordination as a Bishop 35 years ago, I have visited the tombs of Peter and Paul almost every year. There I would celebrate the Eucharist for whichever Local Church I was serving. When praying there I am always aware of the insignificance of my own efforts, knowing that the ongoing life of the Church does not depend upon me.
This does not relieve me or any of us of the responsibility to conform our lives more fully to Jesus, our Good Shepherd. In today’s reading from Ezekiel we hear: “For thus says the Lord God: I myself will look after and tend my sheep” (34:11). That prophecy is fulfilled in Jesus himself who remains with his sheep and tends his flock—through very human and limited shepherds. Reflecting on the Bishop’s role in continuing the ministry of the Good Shepherd, Saint Augustine put it so well: “Believe me, brothers and sisters, if what I am for you frightens me, what I am with you reassures me. I am a Bishop for you, a Christian with you. The former is the name of the office received, the latter the name of the grace given; the former name carries danger, the latter salvation.” Clearly, Augustine understood Jesus’ words in John, Chapter 10: “The good shepherd lays down, if need be, his life for the sheep.”
Ezekiel outlines the shepherds’ tasks, no less challenging today than in his own time:
• The shepherd is found in the midst of the sheep, leading them. He does not drive them! He leads them out from among the peoples and gathers them from the foreign lands. How ripe a message for our vast multi-cultural reality in Los Angeles. A good shepherd here will of necessity work tirelessly for just immigration policies and for the protection of the dignity of all our immigrants.
• The shepherd feeds and nourishes the flock. The Bishop knows how to nourish his people in Word and Sacrament, guiding his people in the life of the Spirit.
• The shepherd seeks the lost, the stray, the injured, the sick—heralding the “New Evangelization.” With confidence he and his people face the many opportunities and challenges to be a sign of reconciliation and healing. Shepherd and flock are a beacon of hope of all who are poor, weak, or marginalized in the Church and in the wider society.
La lectura de Ezequiel describe varios aspectos del pastor que continúan siendo hoy tan originales y exigentes como lo fueron en tiempo de Ezequiel:
• El pastor se encuentra en medio de las ovejas. Las conduce; no las maneja. Las conduce de entre todos los pueblos y las reúne desde las naciones extranjeras—una referencia bien apropiada a la inmensa realidad multicultural de Los Ángeles. Así, el buen pastor en Los Ángeles, por necesidad tendrá que trabajar sin descanso por políticas justas de inmigración y por la protección de la dignidad de cada inmigrante.
• El pastor alimenta y nutre al rebaño—así se enfatiza la importancia del oficio de enseñar del Obispo y de ayudar en la formación de nuestra gente en la vida del Espíritu.
• El pastor va en busca de las perdidas, aquellos que se han desviado, las heridas y las enfermas—anunciando la “Nueva Evangelización” en este nuestro tiempo en la historia. Ambos, el pastor y las ovejas, deberán ser juntos, un faro de esperanza para
los pobres y los que están a los márgenes de la sociedad.
The manifold responsibilities of the Bishop are spelled out by the late Pope John Paul II in Pastores Gregis, “Shepherds of the Flock” This was followed in 2004 by an updated Directory for the Pastoral Ministry of Bishops entitled Apostolorum Successores, “Successors of the Apostles.” Archbishop Gomez, I was delighted to find only five sections of the Directory devoted to the Bishop Emeritus of a Diocese; the other 226 sections treat your tasks as the Diocesan Bishop!
The Letter to the Hebrews challenges us “to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus” by reminding us: “Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast to our confession” [Hebrews 12:2, and 4:14]. This challenges us to proclaim Christ in fresh, inviting, and bold ways. These days so many live without hope, yearning for the assurance of God’s boundless love and mercy. “So let us confidently approach the throne of grace to receive mercy and to find grace for timely help” [Hebrews 4:16]. These are the words of Archbishop Gomez’ Episcopal motto. They urge us to never tire of offering the assurance of God’s boundless love and mercy in and through our Risen Savior.
La carta a los Hebreos nos ofrece esta seguridad a través de su invitación:
“Acerquémonos con confianza al tribunal de gracia para recibir misericordia y obtener la gracia de un auxilio oportuno” (Hebreos 4:16). El lema episcopal del Arzobispo Gomez está tomado de este mismo versículo.
We return to today’s pivotal Gospel selection, since surely a Bishop must be committed to the building up of Christ’s Church. In this Particular Church of Los Angeles, how and where is Jesus continuing to build up his Church? Perhaps above all through the Six Pastoral Initiatives of our Archdiocesan Synod which concluded in 2003. These will remain both challenging and valid, calling for yet further implementation. First and foremost, we are disciples of Jesus Christ who is center of the Father’s plan of salvation. Making the Gospel heard in words and seen in actions which evoke a response in faith—that is, evangelization—must permeate each level and every activity of this Particular Church. I am so grateful that you, Archbishop Gomez, have given such attention to ongoing evangelization in your own vision of the Church.
Si fuéramos capaces de imaginarnos algunas áreas en las que Jesucristo continúa construyendo su Iglesia, ¿dónde las podemos encontrar hoy en esta Iglesia particular de Los Ángeles? Me atrevería a responder que las Iniciativas Pastorales redactadas por nuestro Sínodo Arquidiocesano del 2003 continúan siendo valientes y válidas, incluso cuando algunas todavía requieren de más implementación. La primera y más importante, nosotros
somos una comunidad de discípulos de Jesucristo que estamos en el corazón y en el centro del plan de salvación del Padre. Estoy entusiasmado de que Usted, Arzobispo Gomez, haya prestado una atención tan particular a una evangelización continua en su visión para la Iglesia.
The Archdiocesan Synod affirmed the common priesthood of the baptized, the need for ongoing religious formation for all of us, and the value of the many lay ministries flourishing in the Church. One of the characteristics of our Local Church is that spirit of collaboration among us, calling forth the gifts of all in building up the Church. At the same time we remain keenly aware of the pressing need for ordained priests and deacons, as well as consecrated women and men, in building up the Church. Increased efforts to invite more men and women to serve the Church in the ordained ministry and in consecrated life are crucial. Archbishop Gomez, we welcome your efforts to help us achieve this pastoral initiative.
If our focus is on the total self-giving of Jesus Christ in the plan of his Father, then we too must surrender to God’s plan for us. We do not surrender in a spirit of passivity. Rather, imbued with a new and generous spirit, we hear again and respond anew to Jesus’ words: “You are Peter, and upon this rock I shall be building up my Church.” Here, in our own time and place, we commit ourselves to work with renewed vigor until this Local Church of Los Angeles becomes an even clearer sign—not of our plans, but of that splendid yet mysterious plan of God our Father, revealed through His only Son, in the communion of the Holy Spirit!
Si de verdad nos fijamos en la entrega total de Jesucristo realizando el plan de su Padre, también nosotros debemos entregarnos al plan que Dios tiene para todos nosotros. No
lo hacemos desde una visión muy pasiva de la historia de la salvación. Sino que más bien, llenos de un espíritu nuevo y generoso, oímos otra vez aquellas palabras tan confortantes:
“Tú eres Pedro, y sobre esta roca yo voy construyendo mi Iglesia”.
Sunday, May 23, 2010
Some Los Angeles local radio talk shows spew out non-stop characterizations of Hispanics without even pretending to be objective. Their description of Hispanic families, their culture, their way of life, and their history in our State is not only false, but done in appalling and shameful language. Several talk show hosts are shameless in their baseless denunciation of our Hispanic friends and neighbors.
I cannot recall in my past 25 years in Los Angeles of any group being so singled out for blanket blame, accusations, false information, and bitter attack. Hispanic immigrants are not only pointed to as a major cause of the current recession, but they are portrayed as uninterested in bettering our communities and nation.
Raised in the San Fernando Valley here in Los Angeles, I grew up with Hispanic peoples as a youth. Several worked for my father in his poultry processing plant. I cherished their personal faith and commitment to their families and to the community. They taught me how to treasure the contributions of each group of people here in Los Angeles.
As seminarians at St. John's Seminary in Camarillo, we would go out with the priests to the Bracero Camps in the area to help with Mass and to assist these men who were brought up here from Mexico for harvests but separated for months from their families. Their spirit of sacrifice for their families is etched deeply in my heart.
As a young priest in the San Joaquin Valley, I was privileged to work with many thousands of marvelous Hispanic people scattered across the small farm communities--the breadbasket of our nation. I can still remember their faces, their simple joys of family, and their very hard work in the fields, orchards, and vineyards of the Valley.
Here in Los Angeles, I have been privileged to minister to many millions of our Hispanic brothers and sisters living in our midst--many for several generations.
These wonderful people do not deserve to be scape-goated by some media, nor to be blamed for countless woes of our communities and society.
Tuesday, May 18, 2010
It is interesting that the various polls taken after the signing of the new Arizona anti-immigrant bill show three strong trends:
1) Our current immigration system is not working, and our borders are not secure. The blame is focused squarely on the Federal government's inability to deal with the issue of immigration reform.
2) While a majority support the approach taken in Arizona, the respondents are concerned about how "reasonable suspicion" can be carried out without targeting Hispanic people.
3) Majorities consistently favor some type of path to legal residency for those here without legal documents. This is in contrast to the same respondents favoring the Arizona law.
The New York Times/CBS News poll [April 28--May 2, 2010] indicates that 43% favor having undocumented workers stay and apply for citizenship, and 21% favor having them stay as guest workers--that's 64% of the respondents. Only 32% favor requiring them to leave their jobs and the USA.
The USA Today poll reported on May 4, 2010 shows that 67% of Americans say it is extremely or very important to develop a plan to deal with about 12 million immigrants without documents.
The American immigrant spirit is indeed alive and well. Many Americans know some more recently arrived immigrants, and believe that they are hard-working and are contributing to the overall good of our country and its economy.
It is discouraging that members in the US Senate and Congress are unwilling to take the leadership in repairing our broken immigration system.
Yet in the midst of all the politics and posturing, the spirit of most Americans remains favorable towards our immigrant brothers and sisters.
Sunday, May 2, 2010
I was struck by the hope-filled yearnings of so many people to have Congress pass a comprehensive immigration reform law to alleviate the fears and apprehensions of so many people living and working here without proper legal status. The sentiments were the same from all speakers addressing the assembled group: immigrants do not come to our country to rob and plunder our resources. We applaud government efforts to apprehend all those involved in criminal activity, such as drug and human traffikers--but they represent a tiny fraction of undocumented peoples living in our country.
Walking along the streets with these thousands of people enabled me to listen once again to their stories. And these stories all follow a similar pattern: either children are brought to this country by parents seeking a better future for them, or they are adults looking for a more secure life for themselves and their families--all the while contributing to building up our communities and nation.
The recent anti-immigrant law passed in Arizona galvenized everyone on May Day to unite all of our efforts to respect the dignity and rights of all immigrants, and to work for legislative reform which would better secure our borders, unite separated families, supply temporary workers as needed and through a just system, and to call from the shadows the millions of people here who need a path forward which would lead to a secure legal status now and citizenship in the future.
Absent was vitriolis and hateful rhetoric. Rather, all speakers raised up the human dignity and needed protections for everyone living in, and contributing to, the well-being of our country. In fact, joyful and upbeat hearts brought a carnival atmosphere to the massive rally. A sea of American flags of all sizes and shapes was evident everywhere, held up with pride by people of all size and shade of color.
I would refer you to the recent website which enables you to meet and hear the stories of real immigrants living in our midst:
Above all, let us continue to lift up in our prayer all immigrants in our country and to work towards full immigration reform which will remove the stigma of "illegal" from countless brothers and sisters.
Thursday, April 29, 2010
Immigrants are our neighbors, co-workers, students, and friends—and they contribute greatly to our nation and to our communities.
Instead of being side-tracked by heated rhetoric and political posturing, all of us should take the time to open our minds and hearts to hear the actual stories of the immigrants themselves. Who are they? Why are they here? How is our current immigration system failing them? How do their experiences impact our local communities and our nation?
I have begun a series of personal conversations with our immigrant brothers and sisters in and around Southern California. I have asked them to share their stories about how their lives have been impacted by having to live in the shadows of society because of an antiquated and broken immigration system.
Please listen carefully to their stories, look into their faces. The more we come to know immigrants as individual people like ourselves with the same longings and yearnings for themselves, their families, and our countries, the more we will understand the need to reform federal immigration laws to help bring these people along a path to legal recognition.
These stories are representative of the experiences of some 12 million undocumented immigrants living in our country today. We will be adding more stories in the coming weeks so that all of us can put a human face on these brothers and sisters—rather than reprimand them with judgmental rhetoric.
Visit our new website to see these immigrants and to listen to their stories:
SPECIAL PRAYER FOR IMMIGRANTS
This weekend, May 1 and 2, all Catholic Churches across the country are including special prayers for our immigrant brothers and sisters, and for immigration reform in Congress. The most powerful action we can take this weekend is lifting up our hearts and souls to God in prayer that all of us will welcome the strangers in our midst.
Visit this website for some good prayer suggestions and other ideas:
ARCHBISHOP DOLAN ON IMMIGRANTS
My good friend and colleague, Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York, has a splendid blog entry this week in which he sets forth his views on how we all must protect the rights of our immigrants and work steadily for legislative immigration reform. His blog can be found at:
Sunday, April 18, 2010
What led the Arizona legislature to pass such a law is so obvious to all of us who have been working for federal comprehensive immigration reform: the present immigration system is completely incapable of balancing our nation's need for labor and the supply of that labor. We have built a huge wall along our southern border, and have posted in effect two signs next to each other. One reads, "No Trespassing," and the other reads "Help Wanted." The ill-conceived Arizona law does nothing to balance our labor needs.
The law is wrongly assuming that Arizona residents, including local law enforcement personnel, will now shift their total attention to guessing which Latino-looking or foreign-looking person may or may not have proper documents. That's also nonsense. American people are fair-minded and respectful. I can't imagine Arizonans now reverting to German Nazi and Russian Communist techniques whereby people are required to turn one another in to the authorities on any suspicion of documentation. Are children supposed to call 911 because one parent does not have proper papers? Are family members and neighbors now supposed to spy on one another, create total distrust across neighborhoods and communities, and report people because of suspicions based upon appearance?
Various cities and states have tried such abhorrent tactics over the decades with absolutely no positive effect. Such laws have all been struck down by courts or repealed by wise citizens. Sadly, such laws lead to a new round of immigrant-bashing--usually in times of economic downturn.
Our highest priority today is to bring calm and reasoning to discussions about our immigrant brothers and sisters. We are a nation of immigrants, and their commitment and skills have created the finest country in the world. Let's not allow fearful and ill-informed rhetoric to shape public policy. Let's put a human face on our immigrant friends, and let's listen to their stories and their desires to improve their own lives and the good of the nation.
Almost all of our immigrant families are "mixed," that is, some members have legal documents to be here and some members do not. Asking ordinary Americans and over-worked law enforcement officers to hunt down people of suspicious legal documentation is ludicrous and ineffective.
Let's direct our energies where they need to be focused: passing a federal comprehensive immigration law which is forward-looking and which will help balance our need for adequate labor forces in the coming years. The Census Bureau reports that every day a minimum of 10,000 baby boomers retire. How are we going to provide the labor pool to fill all of these jobs in the coming years?
Our nation has no plan for our future labor needs. None.
As our economy begins to grow again, and as goods and services need to be provided and moved around the country, the need for motivated and eager employees will be of highest priority. Let's put our focus on people and our future together, not on retrogressive tactics which have never worked before in our country's history.
I have met so many of our immigrant families and I am in awe at their love for our country, their care and concern for their children, and their resourcefulness in helping to improve our communities, our way of life, and our economic future.
Tuesday, April 6, 2010
ARCHBISHOP JOSÉ H. GOMEZ
As COADJUTOR ARCHBISHOP of LOS ANGELES
When our Apostolic Nuncio, Archbishop Pietro Sambi, informed me that our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, had appointed Archbishop José Gomez to serve as the Coadjutor Archbishop of Los Angeles, I was so grateful to God for this gift of a Hispanic Archbishop.
I welcome Archbishop Gomez to the Archdiocese of Los Angeles with enthusiasm and personal excitement. The Auxiliary Bishops and I are looking forward to working closely with him over the coming months until he becomes the Archbishop early in 2011.
During the process to select a new Archbishop, I urged that the Archdiocese of Los Angeles deserved to have a Hispanic as the next Archbishop. Los Angeles is the largest Hispanic Diocese or Archdiocese in the United States.
The first four Bishops of the Los Angeles territory were Hispanic Bishops, to be followed by five Bishops/Archbishops of Irish descent, and myself of German and Italian background.
I have known Archbishop Gomez since he became Auxiliary Bishop of Denver in 2001, and subsequently, the Archbishop of San Antonio in 2004. Over the years he has been a most effective leader working with priests serving the Spanish-speaking communities across the country, and his leadership in proclaiming the dignity and rights of our immigrant peoples has helped motivate many people to advocate for our immigrants.
Some may conclude that since Archbishop Gomez was ordained a priest of Opus Dei he must be “conservative.” In fact, these labels of “conservative” and “liberal” are really unhelpful in the life of the Church. We are all called to a deep relationship with Jesus Christ, and I can attest that both of us share a common commitment to Christ and to the Church, and that both of us are interested in promoting the teachings of the Church fully as well as bringing the words and example of Christ to today’s society and world. I consider ourselves to share an equal commitment to the continued growth of the Church here in Los Angeles.
Archbishop Gomez also shares with me a determined effort to make our Church safe for all people, but especially, for children and young people. I look forward to working closely with him to make certain that all our Safeguard the Children programs are fully implemented across the Archdiocese.
Our Archdiocesan Synod concluded in 2003 by establishing six Pastoral Initiatives, the first being a renewed sense of evangelization among our Catholic community. Archbishop Gomez recently wrote two important articles on this topic. The first was entitled Evangelization, Education and the Hispanic Catholic Future in 2009. The second was entitled You Will Be My Witnesses: Pastoral Letter on Evangelization issued in 2010. Both of these pastoral letters will apply well to the Local Church of Los Angeles, and place us on course for a more dynamic outreach to all peoples in the name of Jesus Christ.
During this Year for Priests, Archbishop Gomez published last fall a book entitled Men of Brave Heart: The Virtue of Courage in the Priestly Life.
Archbishop Gomez is the Chair-elect of the Committee on Migrants and Refugee Services of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, and will take the leadership in moving the Church’s efforts forward to bring about a more comprehensive immigration reform in our Congress. I eagerly look forward to working directly with him on this important priority of the Church in our country.
There is an interesting link and bond between the Archdiocese of Los Angeles and the Archdiocese of San Antonio. In 1934, Father Robert E. Lucey of Los Angeles was consecrated as the Bishop of Amarillo, Texas. In 1940, Bishop Lucey became the Archbishop of San Antonio where he worked tirelessly on behalf of the poor and Hispanics. In 1953, a year before the Supreme Court ruling on desegregation in the public schools, Archbishop Lucey integrated all of the Catholic schools in his jurisdiction. He became the executive chairman of the Bishops’ Committee for the Spanish Speaking, and helped to focus the Church’s attention upon all of those immigrants across our country who needed the Church’s voice on their behalf.
To you, Archbishop Gomez, I not only extend the most warm and cordial bienvenida, but I also ask you to experience and appreciate the wonderful, dynamic Local Church of Los Angeles. As the Archdiocese of Los Angeles continues to grow over the coming year, it is our mutual challenge to deepen the faith life of all our Catholics and to assist them in witnessing their faith to all of their brothers and sisters.
I again welcome you with my eager enthusiasm as I complete my service as the Archbishop of Los Angeles in 2011, and you assume that role for the coming years.
Mass of Reception of the Coadjutor Archbishop: Wednesday, May 26, 2010, 2:00 PM in the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels
For more information,
please link to: http://coadjutor.la-archdiocese.org
 The first Bishop of Both Californias [Alta and Baja] was the Most Rev. Francis Garcia Diego y Moreno, O.F.M., who served from 1840 to 1846 when he died. The second Bishop was the Most Rev. Joseph Sadoc Alemany, O.P., who served from 1850 to 1853 when he was appointed the first Archbishop of San Francisco. The third Bishop was the Most Rev. Thaddeus Amat, C.M., who served from 1854 to 1878. The fourth Bishop was the Most Rev. Francis Mora who was the coadjutor Bishop to Bishop Amat and who served from 1873 to 1896 when he resigned.
The Most Rev. George Montgomery was appointed coadjutor Bishop in 1894, and succeeded in 1896. He was appointed coadjutor Archbishop of San Francisco in 1903. The Most Rev. Thomas James Conaty served as Bishop from 1903 to 1915. Bishop John J. Cantwell served as Bishop from 1917 until 1947 when he died; in 1936, Los Angeles was raised to the dignity of an Archdiocese. The Most Rev. James Francis McIntyre served from 1948 to 1970 when he resigned; he was created the first Cardinal Archbishop of Los Angeles in 1953. The Most Rev. Timothy Manning was named coadjutor Archbishop of Los Angeles in 1969, and succeeded in 1970; he was created the second Cardinal in 1973, and retired in 1985.
The Most Rev. Roger Mahony was installed as Archbishop in 1985, and created a Cardinal in 1991. He will retire in 2011.
 Origins, August 13, 2009, Volume 39, Number 11, pages 185 to 189.
 Origins, March 11, 2010, Volume 39, Number 39, pages 634 to 642.
 Archbishop José Gomez, Men of Brave Heart: The Virtue of Courage in the Priestly Life (Huntington, IN: Our Sunday Visitor Press, 2009)
Friday, April 2, 2010
For so many of us today, it seems that our lives are often “on hold.” Economic constraints mean that many will not be able to buy their own home, and are afraid of losing the one they have. We worry that we will not be able to hold on to our jobs. Those who have worked long and hard to enjoy their golden years must now continue to work while they put retirement on hold.
If we are fortunate enough to have work these days, we ask: How do I hold together all the demands of my work, family, friendships, and religious commitments? We wonder: If I have no work, how will I hold on to this house? How will I be able to get to work if I cannot hold on to this car? Then there is the gnawing uncertainty: How do I hold the members of this family together? How do I hold myself together when I often feel like I’m coming apart at the seams?
When so much of our life is put on hold, we begin to feel stuck in a never-ending cycle of monotonous waiting, a permanent holding pattern. Like those white-knuckle passengers in an airplane who grow more anxious as the pilot circles above a fog-laced airport in a holding pattern, our fears can escalate when we feel like we are holding on for dear life.
For many of us, our concluding Lent has helped us take a closer look at our own personal “holding pattern.” Holy Week and Easter vividly reminds us that the whole life, ministry, suffering, passion and dying of Jesus is one of self-giving, self-emptying. He does not cling, he does not grasp. Rather, he empties himself. His pattern of holding is one of non-holding, standing before his Father with nothing in his hands but the promise of unbounded joy.
Recently I was privileged to be in Washington, DC for the large Immigration Reform Rally. I was deeply impressed by some 200,000 people—most of them immigrants, documented and without documents—who themselves have been in a holding pattern. All are anxious to leave their holding pattern in the shadows, and to find a path forward to legal residency in our country. The stories are difficult—so many mixed families, some members of a family U.S. citizens, and some not. The danger of separation among family members keeps them in a holding pattern of fear.
At times such as these when we feel that life is on hold, it is all the more important than ever to hold on to what really matters. It is our hope in the Risen Christ that is alone worth holding on to. And learning his example of self-emptying makes us realize that we, like him, are held, all of us together, in a love beyond imagining.
On this feast of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ this year, let us pray for the grace and strength to move beyond our holding pattern and unite ourselves ever more fully and deeply in the risen life of him who has broken the bonds of fear, sin, and death!
Tuesday, March 30, 2010
On Monday night of Holy Week, the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels was overflowing with priests, deacons, women and men religious, seminarians, and all of God's people for our annual Chrism Mass. For me, the Chrism Mass is one of the most meaningful Liturgies of the entire year because the full unity of the Body of Christ is so evident among all who are present.
During the Chrism Mass, the Holy Oils used in administering the Sacraments during the course of the year are blessed: the Oil of Catechumens, the Oil of the Sick, and the Sacred Chrism.
Almost 500 priests and 60 permanent deacons concelebrate this Mass with the Archbishop and Auxiliary Bishops showing vividly the gift of Holy Orders to the Church and to our Archdiocese.
Our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, also honored 14 of our priests with special Papal Honors. These were announced at the end of the Chrism Mass.
Three Monsignors who had been Chaplains of His Holiness for many years were elevated to Prelates of Honor to His Holiness: Monsignors Helmut A. Hefner, Timothy J. Dyer, and Michael W. Meyers.
Eleven priests were elevated to Chaplain to His Holiness with the title of Monsignor: Monsignors James R. Forsen, Richard M. Martini, Sabato A. Pilato, Lorenzo Miranda, Richard G. Krekelberg, Antonio Cacciapuoti, Thomas M. Acton, Jon F. Majarucon, Gerald McSorley, Robert J. McNamara, and Nestor Rebong.
A large number of laity across the Archdiocese will be honored in the near future with either the Benemerenti Medal or the Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice Medal in recognition of their outstanding discipleship with Jesus Christ and their service of the Church here in our Archdiocese.
Having the newly blessed Holy Oils taken to all 288 parishes this week helps strengthen those bonds of unity in diversity which so signify our Local Church of Los Angeles.
May your sharing in the Sacred Triduum of Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday lead you to the fullness of God's graces on Easter Sunday!
Sunday, March 28, 2010
Beginning in that dark year of 2002, the then Cardinal Ratzinger responded quickly and affirmatively to all of our requests for assistance here in the United States.
Recall that Canon 1324, par. 4, states that in Canon Law a minor is a person under the age of 16 years. However, in the civil laws of the United States, a minor is deemed to be a person under the age of 18 years. After we brought this gap to the attention of Cardinal Ratzinger, the canonical age was also raised to 18 years to accommodate civil law in our country and in other countries.
With respect to the processes of dealing with cases of alleged sexual abuse by priests in our Archdiocese, Cardinal Ratzinger and his Congregation responded swiftly and gave us advice on how to proceed with each of these cases. We never had delays or a lack of proper response.
Whenever I proposed that a certain priest be returned to the lay state and no longer serve as a priest, the Congregation responded quickly and in accord with my recommendations. Whether the priest petitioned himself for a return to the lay state, or whether I insisted upon his return to the lay state, Cardinal Ratzinger and the Congregation responded in favor of the Church, not of the priest individually.
Without the proactive and helpful assistance of Cardinal Ratzinger and the Congregation over these years, the Archdiocese of Los Angeles would never have been able to move forward aggressively to remove priests from ministry who were proved to be guilty of the sexual abuse of minors.
The Congregation continues forward with the same vision and policies of then Cardinal Ratzinger, and I am grateful to the present Prefect and staff of the Congregation for their proactive efforts to assist us in our local Dioceses and Archdioceses to remove from active ministry any priest or religious found guilty of the sexual abuse of minors.
We have had a large number of former priests and religious returned to the lay state under the auspices of Cardinal Ratzinger and the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Without those insights by the Congregation, many guilty priests would still be considered priests in our Church. That is no longer the case.
All of the procedures and processes which Cardinal Ratzinger implemented over the years have helped me and the Archdiocese of Los Angeles resolve many unfortunate cases in a manner to make certain that the Church is a safe place for all peoples, especially children and young people.
Sunday, March 21, 2010
On Sunday March 21, some 200,000 people gathered in Washington DC for a Rally in favor of immigration reform legislation.
This Rally was historic because it occurred during the final hours of debate about health care reform. Yet, these thousands of people came to the Capitol Mall to show their support for all of our immigrant brothers and sisters who are seeking a legal path to legal residency here in our country.
It was impressive to see people from almost all the States of the Union here to urge President Obama and the Congress to enact comprehensive immigration reform.
Health care reform passed on Sunday night, and brought millions of people out of the shadows of living without health care coverage. We have reached out to them precisely to include them fully into American life and protections.
Now we need to do the same thing with our millions of immigrants who are living in the shadows of our society but without protections and guarantees--because they do not yet possess legal status. We need to devote ourselves to bring about a comprehensive bill which will bring them into full participation in the life of our country.
I am encouraged by the words and promises of President Obama and the Senate leadership:
January 27, 2010
In his State of the Union speech to Congress January 27, President Obama reaffirmed his Administration’s commitment to immigration reform, calling on Congress to “continue the work of fixing our broken immigration system to secure our borders, enforce our laws and ensure that everyone who plays by the rules can contribute to our economy and enrich our nation.” In comments made subsequent to the President’s speech, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) restated his commitment to moving immigration reform this year: “It is something we are committed to do. And we will do it as soon as we can.” Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) offered that he was making “good progress” in negotiating a bipartisan bill with Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC).
For further information and ways you can participate, please visit the website for Justice for Immigrants: www.justiceforimmigrants.org
I am hopeful that all of us who are Catholics can move together towards an immigration reform that will bring respect, hope, and a new future for the millions who work so hard to make our country so great.
God's blessings be upon all of us!
Thursday, March 18, 2010
There is nothing as encouraging for our Church than to see such dynamic faith being expressed in the lives of these terrific young men and women. Most came as members of parish youth groups, and many wore distinctive t-shirts with all kinds of Christian messages emblazoned on them.
At the Mass in the Arena, two young people gave personal testimony about how God has guided them through difficult family situations at home. Both Samantha and Daniel spoke about the difficulties they had growing up with various tensions and rifts within their families. But they also shared the great power of God's love and grace working through those problems, and how their faith in God's love and mercy helped them through the years. Really inspiring!!
Our seminarians from St. John's Seminary put on workshops about vocations to the priesthood and religious life, and the seminarians shared their own journeys and stories--how God led them to seek a life of service as a priest. At the end of our Mass I asked those young men present who felt that maybe Jesus was calling them to consider serving as a priest to stand--and there was an overwhelming number who stood. And to the great roar of applause by thousands of their peers. We concluded Mass with everyone praying the prayer for priestly vocations.
Tuesday, February 23, 2010
I was concerned that the future of our great Catholic schools in the Archdiocese could be in jeopardy if we could not provide tuition assistance to many thousands of our children and young people.
In 1987 the Catholic Education Foundation [CEF] was established to build up an endowment fund, and the income from that fund would be used to offer scholarships for our children and young people in our Catholic Schools.
Since 1987, the CEF has made over 103,000 tuition awards to students for a total amount of over $100 million dollars. For most of those students, the CEF tuition awards are what keep them in our Catholic Schools.
I am most grateful to the Board of Directors of our CEF for their commitment over 23 years, and their willingness to make certain that these tuition awards are made available year after year. It is so impressive to have so many Board members donate year after year so that our Catholic Schools can remain viable and affordable for all of our families.
One of the greatest efforts of the Catholic Church in this country dating back to 1789 is the establishment of our extraordinary Catholic Schools.
I am personally committed to make certain that our Catholic Schools remain viable for as many Catholic families as possible. So many of our past, present, and future Cath0lic leaders will come from graduates of our Catholic elementary and high schools.
Please visit the wonderful website for the Catholic Education Foundation to learn more about it, and how you can participate in helping to keep our Catholic Schools open, vialable, and affordable for this and the next generation of Catholic School students: http://www.cefdn.org/
Each of us has a serious duty and responsibility to preserve and to enhance our Catholic Schools for the coming generations across the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. I invite you to participate in helping to make sure that the legacy of quality Catholic Education is passed on from one generation to the next.
In our difficult economic times, it is really important that we make available tuition assistance for the many families who desperately want their children in our Catholic Schools, but who simply do not have the money to pay for tuition.
Please consider making a gift today to the Catholic Education Foundation to maintain our vigorous and faith-filled Catholic Schools! Gifts can be made directly through the CEF website:
Click on "Donate" and you will find many giving opportunities.
May God's blessings be abundant upon you!!