Thursday, April 29, 2010


Just as the word “immigrant” has different meanings in today’s political climate, so too does the issue of “immigration reform.”

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:


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:


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


The Arizona legislature just passed the country's most retrogressive, mean-spirited, and useless anti-immigrant law [SB 1070, awaiting the expected signature of Gov. Jan Brewer]. The tragedy of the law is its totally flawed reasoning: that immigrants come to our country to rob, plunder, and consume public resources. That is not only false, the premise is nonsense.

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



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[1], to be followed by five Bishops/Archbishops of Irish descent[2], and myself of German and Italian background[3].

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[4] in 2009. The second was entitled You Will Be My Witnesses: Pastoral Letter on Evangelization[5] 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.[6]

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:

[1] 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.

[4] Origins, August 13, 2009, Volume 39, Number 11, pages 185 to 189.

[5] Origins, March 11, 2010, Volume 39, Number 39, pages 634 to 642.

[6] 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


Perhaps one of the most annoying experiences in life these days is being put “on hold.” We make a call to the pharmacy, or supermarket, or even our parish—and we are asked if we will hold for a moment. We count the minutes that seem like hours as our blood pressure and frustration rise. We whisper: “What a waste of my time!” When the mind-numbing muzak or commercial on the other end of the line fades, we wonder: “Is anyone on the other end of the line? Are you still there?”

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!