Wednesday, June 29, 2011


Today, the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul, a grand celebration of the Holy Eucharist took place in St. Peter's Basilica in Rome! Our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, celebrated the 60th Anniversary of his Ordination to the Priesthood, as well as the Bestowal of the Pallium upon 40 new Archbishops from throughout the world.

Those of us in Los Angeles were particularly blessed since our Archbishop, the Most Reverend Jose H. Gomez, received his Pallium as the Metropolitan Archbishop of Los Angeles. He was accompanied by all of the Auxiliary Bishops, many priests, Religious, and lay men and women.

The Holy Father's homily focused upon the Gospel passage which was proclaimed 60 years ago at his own Ordination: "I no longer call you servants, but friends" (cf. John 15:15). He explained to us: "Friendship is not just about knowing someone, it is above all a communion of the will. It means that my will grows into ever greater conformity with his will. For his will is not something external and foreign to me, something to which I more or less willingly submit or else refuse to submit. No, in friendship, my will grows together with his will, and his will becomes mine: this is how I become truly myself."

This gradual blending of our own will with that of Jesus Christ is a daily task for us as disciples of Jesus, and the fullness of our friendship occurs when we are with Jesus in the Kingdom of Heaven.

Speaking to the new Archbishops, Pope Benedict highlighted three aspects of receiving the Pallium. First, "It may remind us in the first instance of Christ's easy yoke that is laid upon us (cf. Matthew 11:29f). Christ's yoke is identical with friendship."

Second, "Thus it reminds us of the Shepherd who himself became a lamb, out of love for us. It reminds us of Christ, who set out through the mountains and the deserts, in which his lamb, humanity, had strayed. It reminds us of him who took the lamb--humanity--me--upon his shoulders, in order to carry me home."

Third, "Finally the Pallium also means quite concretely the communion of the shepherds of the Church with Peter and with his successors--it means that we must be shepherds for unity and in unity, and that it is only in the unity represented by Peter that we truly lead people to Christ."

I recommend that you pray over the entire homily which can be found at the new Vatican news site:

Truly, today June 29, has been a great day of drawing closer to Jesus Christ and to feeling deeply the bonds which unite all of us around the world as members of the Body of Christ!

Thursday, June 23, 2011


About 400 members of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles are en route to Rome for the bestowal of the Pallium upon Archbishop Jose H. Gomez, the Archbishop of Los Angeles, by Pope Benedict XVI on June 29, the feast of Saints Peter and Paul.

But what is the Pallium? It is a circular band about 2" wide, worn about the neck and having two pendants--one hanging down in front and one behind. It is worn over the chasuble at Mass. Every February two lambs are blessed each year and their white wool is used to make the Pallium. The wool is presented to the Pope, and Sisters then make the Pallium for the new Archbishops.

Who wears the Pallium? The Pallium is worn by Archbishops who are also Metropolitan Archbishops--they head up a Province of Dioceses. Archbishop Gomez is the Metropolitan Archbishop of the Province of Los Angeles, and he presides over the Archdiocese of Los Angeles directly, and indirectly, over the Dioceses of Monterey, Fresno, San Bernardino, Orange, and San Diego.

Interesting: even though Archbishop Gomez served as the Archbishop of San Antonio and wore the Pallium there, if he is transferred to a different Metropolitan Archdiocese, he is required to receive a new Pallium. The former Pallium is placed in his casket upon his death and Funeral Mass.

The new Palliums are solemnly blessed on the eve of the feast of Saints Peter and Paul, and are kept in a special silver-gilt container in front of the Main Altar in St. Peter's Basilica.

It is not clear when the bestowal and use of the Pallium began in our Church. However, the first mention of the Pallium being used is in the first half of the 4th century--a long time ago. Pope Marcus, who died in 336, conferred the right to wear the Pallium on the Bishop of Ostia, near Rome. The wearing of the Pallium was more common in the 5th century.

The use of the Pallium among Metropolitan Archbishops did not become general until the 9th century, when the obligation was laid upon all Metropolitans.

The obvious purpose of the Pallium was to link in a special way the Bishop of Rome with all of the Metropolitan Provinces throughout the world. The oath of allegiance to the Holy Father remains an important aspect of this impressive Ceremony.

As early as the 6th century, the Pallium was considered a liturgical vestment to be used only in the Church, and indeed only during Mass.

I received the Pallium on June 29, 1986. Upon my retirement on February 28, 2011, I no longer wear the Pallium. It has been placed in my crypt in the Cathedral, and will be worn over my vestments upon my Funeral Mass and burial.

All of us accompany Archbishop Gomez with prayer and fraternal support as he receives his Pallium on June 29! It is a privilege for so many of us to be in Rome for this wondrous Liturgy which links the Universal Church to the See of Peter in Rome.

Sunday, June 5, 2011


[This very insightful Associated Press article highlights the economic disaster confronting the agriculture industry in our country if meaningful and comprehensive immigration reform is not passed and implemented soon. Many other U.S. industries are faced with the same problems because the orderly supply of workers is not in harmony with the demands for workers.]

By ALICIA A. CALDWELL, Associated Press – June 4, 2011

WASHINGTON (AP) — The agriculture industry fears a disaster is on the horizon if the one bit of new immigration policy that Congress seems to agree on becomes law.

A plan to require all American businesses to run their employees through E-Verify, a program that confirms each is legally entitled to work in the U.S., could wreak havoc on an industry where 80 percent of the field workers are illegal immigrants. So could the increased paperwork audits already under way by the Obama administration.

"We are headed toward a train wreck," said Rep. Zoe Lofgren, a California Democrat whose district includes agriculture-rich areas. "The stepped up (workplace) enforcement has brought this to a head."

Lofgren said farmers are worried that their work force is about to disappear. They say they want to hire legal workers and U.S. citizens, but that it's nearly impossible, given the relatively low wages and back-breaking work.

Wages can range from minimum wage to more than $20 an hour. But workers often are paid by the piece; the faster they work, they more they make. A steady income lasts only as long as the planting and harvesting seasons, which can be measured in weeks.

"Few citizens express interest, in large part because this is hard, tough work," Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsak said this past week. "Our broken immigration system offers little hope for producers to do the right thing."

Arturo S. Rodriguez, president of United Farm Workers, said migrant farm workers are exposed to blistering heat with little or no shade and few water breaks. It's skilled work, he said, requiring produce pickers to be exact and quick. While the best mushroom pickers can earn about $35,000 to $40,000 a year for piece work, there's little chance for a good living and American workers don't seem interested in farm jobs.

"It is extremely difficult, hard, dangerous work," Rodriguez said.

Last year Rodriguez's group started the "Take Our Jobs" campaign to entice American workers to take the fields. He said of about 86,000 inquiries the group got about the offer, only 11 workers took jobs.

"That really was thought up by farm workers trying to figure out what is it we needed to do to show that we are not trying to take away anyone's job," Rodriguez said.

Vilsak and the American Farm Bureau Federation president, Bob Stallman, said in a recent conference call with reporters that the best and likely only hope to stave off an economic catastrophe for American farmers and consumers is comprehensive overhaul of immigration policy. Vilsak said the industry is worth about $5 billion to $9 billion a year.

"We need to address the agriculture labor supply," Stallman said. "This situation will affect the future of America's farmers and ranchers."

Manuel Cunha, president of Nisei Farmers League, a group representing growers in central California, said farmers don't have the wherewithal to verify a worker's status when their labor force is often hired on the spot and in a hurry to pick ripe crops. Forcing them to verify a worker's legal status, he said, would prove disastrous.

"If we were to use E-Verify now, we'd shut down, either that or farmers would go to prison," said Cunha, a Fresno-based citrus farmer. "We've admitted many workers are not legal and if you have to get rid of everybody, where do I go to get my labor? Nowhere. We have to have a work force that we can put in the system."

Shawn Coburn, a politically active farmer who grows thousands of acres of almonds on the west side Fresno County, said he favors tighter borders, a guest worker program and a path to citizenship for those already in the U.S., or at the very least their children. But, like Cunha, he believes a mandatory E-Verify plan would be nothing but trouble for the industry.

"I don't think it's going to happen, but if it does it would throw the California economy for a loop," Coburn said.

Without a broad overhaul in the works, industry officials have focused on improving the H-2A temporary agricultural workers visa program that's aimed at allowing season workers to come and work on U.S. farms.

The program, however, is costly, time consuming and inefficient, according to Cathleen Enright, vice president of federal government affairs for the Western Growers Association.

"It has never been a great program or easy to work with," Enright said. "It's an unbelievably crushing program."

There isn't enough capacity in the system to process, interview and approve visa applications for the nearly 1 million seasonal workers who take to the fields every season. Farmers are required to pay for a worker's transportation from their home country to the fields, provide housing and other benefits.

Even minor violations of the numerous rules and regulations that govern the H-2A program can lead to hefty fines, Enright said.

"It's too expensive, it's too litigious, it's too bureaucratic," said Lee Wicker, deputy director of the North Carolina Growers Association. "We need a program that farmers can use and have confidence in."

Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., said farmers in his area want to do the right thing and hire legal workers but they are frustrated with the stifling bureaucracy that comes with the visa program.

"It's a labyrinthine visa process, with the slow walking of applications," Gowdy said. "You could not by accident come up with a better plan to ruin the small family farm."

Farmers, he said, "are just at their wits' end."

Using the program to get workers can put farmers at a disadvantage if their competitors decide to take their chances and hire illegal workers, Wicker said.

Lawmakers agree the visa program is problematic, but there's a wide divide on how to make it workable.

In 2009, Rep. Howard Berman, D-Calif., and Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., introduced legislation that would have given temporary resident status to immigrant farm workers and have created a path to legal residency for those workers after five years.

Neither bill, known as the AgJOBS Act, made it out committee. The idea is part of the discussion involving changes to the seasonal workers visa program, but Republicans have pledged to block it because it includes a path to legal status for immigrant workers.

Rep. Dan Lungren, a California Republican from an agriculture industry-heavy district near Sacramento, has said he sees that same "train wreck" Lofgren described, but that the AgJOBS bill isn't the answer.

"We're going to have a crisis in agriculture," Lungren said during a hearing this year on the visa program by the House Judiciary subcommittee on immigration policy and enforcement. "And while it sounds great to say an agreement (on AgJOBS) is going to take care of it, it's not going to pass."

About the only hope for success for any immigration-related legislation, Lungren and others say, is a bill that would make it mandatory for American employers to use the government's E-Verify program to ensure their workers are legal.

GOP Rep. Lamar Smith of Texas, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, has pledged to introduce such legislation. Such a proposal appeared to get a push this past week when the Supreme Court ruled 5-3 in favor of an Arizona law that allows the state to penalize businesses for hiring illegal immigrant workers.

Agriculture officials say there needs to be some exception for farm workers.

"It needs to take into account the unique aspects of agriculture," Vilsak said.