.- Archbishop Jose Gomez of Los Angeles has written his first pastoral letter to his archdiocese, invoking the Catholic history of California and calling on Catholics to witness to the “New World of faith.”
“Los Angeles — like all of California and the Americas —is built on a Christian foundation. And today we are called to build on that missionary foundation to make a new evangelization of the Americas,” the archbishop said in his Oct. 2 letter, which was released Oct. 10, the eve of the Catholic Church’s Year of Faith.
“The world needs a new evangelization! The people of our city, our nation and our continent are waiting for the encounter with Jesus Christ who makes all things new,” he proclaimed.
Archbishop Gomez encouraged Catholics to embrace the Year of Faith as “a time of interior renewal and spiritual preparation for a new Christian witness to our city and our continent.” This renewal is for each individual and for the archdiocese in its parishes, schools, catechesis, religious education, and social ministries.
“We need to ask ourselves: Is our work leading men and women to Jesus Christ and his Church? Is the Christian faith spreading and is knowledge of the faith deepening through our programs and ministries?” Archbishop Gomez said.
The archbishop, who took office in March 2011, named five pastoral priorities: improving faith education, encouraging vocations to the priesthood and religious life, fostering Catholic identity and diversity, promoting a “culture of life” and strengthening marriage and the family.
He stressed the need for every Catholic to grow in his or her knowledge of the faith.
Every Catholic should learn how to pray better and how to read the Gospels with “more lively faith and deeper understanding,” he wrote, recommending the practice of lectio divina – meditating and praying using Scripture – to help Catholics encounter Jesus Christ. He emphasized that this education is rooted in the Eucharist.
Vocations to the priesthood and religious life are “born of a Catholic culture” and intensified prayer is a practical step to advance them, the archbishop explained.
In the realm of promoting a culture of life, the archbishop said the Church must “proclaim the Gospel of life” and protect “the rights of the person from conception to natural death.”
He explained the defense of marriage as an effort to restore a “family culture” in the face of “widespread cultural confusion.” This defense must include doing more to support mothers, fathers and families in Catholic parishes and ministries.
“Our Church must lead a cultural renewal so that our society will once more see that marriage is sacred and that the family is the true sanctuary of life and the heart of a civilization of love,” he said.
Archbishop Gomez encouraged lay people to sanctify their work and see their daily activities “as the place where you meet and walk with Jesus.”
“Through our witness, let us make this truly a City of the Angels — a city of love and truth, where all can know that God is near in his love, and where the horizons of every life are open to his promise of salvation,” he said.
The pastoral letter also announced some changes in the diocesan administration.
The archbishop intends to create an Office of the New Evangelization. He will expand the mission of the archdiocese’s Office of Justice and Peace to include “defending innocent life against the threats of abortion and euthanasia.”
The archbishop closed his letter by asking for the prayers of Our Lady of Guadalupe and Our Lady of the Angels.
Archbishop Gomez is presently in Rome for the Synod of Bishops on the New Evangelization, which will run until Oct. 28.