A Savior in the battle of Immigration
The annual fall meeting of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in Baltimore, MD has elected its first Latino Vice-President in its 99 year history. Archbishop Jose H. Gomez of Los Angeles won with a majority of ballots on the third ballot with 133 votes.
Gomez, who was born in Mexico, is a naturalized U.S. citizen. Within three years he can become the first Hispanic president of the bishops conference.
A couple days after Trump won the presidential election and before his new appointment, Archbishop Gomez and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti had an interfaith prayer service at the Catholic Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in Los Angeles.
He gave a moving homily promising not to abandon children and parents who are living in fear that Trump will keep his word on deporting millions of immigrants. “Now is the time to build unity and heal communities, through our love our neighbor and our care for those in need” said Gomez.
The decision of Gomez as Vice President can be looked at as a sign that Catholic bishops are preparing to defend immigrants and refugees against the president-elect’s threats have created a huge backlash towards immigrants and minorities.
The bishops at the conference approved a statement directed to the incoming Trump administration saying “We will work to promote humane policies that protect refugee and immigrants’ inherent dignity, keep families together, and honor and respect the laws of this nation.”
Although the bishops extended their congratulations to Trump, they made him well aware that the Catholic Church is committed to keeping immigrant families together.
On the other hand there are causes that they might have in common with the president-elect such as ending or limiting abortions, changing the contraception mandate in the Affordable Care Act and the issue of same-sex marriage.
In January, Catholic dioceses, will begin a two-year plan to reach out to Latino Catholics in order to participate more fully in the church. Pope Francis is in support of this mission saying that is can have a huge impact for a “society gripped by disconcerting social, cultural and spiritual shifts, and increasing polarization.”
More than a third of American Catholics are Latinos, and other immigrants from various other countries. Sixty percent of Catholics in the United States under 18 are Latinos, and 90 percent were born in the United States.
“The Bishops of the United States recognize the presence of Latinos in our community, in our country and also in the church,” said Gomez, “I think our mission is to help people be united in our country, and have hope.”