Wednesday, May 26, 2010

LA Catholics to welcome coadjutor archbishop

Last updated May 26, 2010 10:55 a.m. PT

LA Catholics to welcome coadjutor archbishop

LOS ANGELES -- The future leader of the nation's most populous Roman Catholic archdiocese will be formally welcomed Wednesday in a religious service at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels.

The Mass of Reception will mark the start of Coadjutor Archbishop Jose H. Gomez's ministry as an assistant to Cardinal Roger Mahony, who will retire next year.

Six other cardinals, dozens of bishops, more than 400 priests and representatives from 288 parishes throughout the nearly 8,800-square-mile archdiocese were expected to participate in a service incorporating a half-dozen languages to reflect the diversity of the region.

Mahony, who became archbishop of Los Angeles in 1985, has said he urged Pope Benedict XVI to select a Latino to replace him when, under church law, he retires in February at age 75.

Born in Monterrey, Mexico, Gomez, 58, will become the first Hispanic archbishop of the Los Angeles archdiocese at a time when illegal immigration from Mexico is a heated political issue.

Gomez is the newly elected chair of the Committee on Migrants and Refugee Services for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. His new position in Los Angeles will give the former archbishop of San Antonio, Texas, a more visible platform on immigration while reflecting a large segment of the U.S. church.

More than a third of the 65 million Catholics in the United States are Hispanic, as are nearly three-quarters of the 5 million-plus members of the three-county archdiocese.

Gomez will also inherit remaining elements of the clergy sex abuse scandal that has dogged the Archdiocese of Los Angeles for years.

In, 2007, Mahony agreed to a $660 million settlement with more than 500 alleged victims of clergy abuse, and a federal grand jury is investigating how the archdiocese handled abuse claims.

Mahony is not a target of the investigation, according to his attorney.

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