Following a bland introductory story and a somewhat hostile column, the Los Angeles Times has published a positive story about how Archbishop Jose Gomez’s appointment as coadjutor archbishop of Los Angeles has made area Latinos proud and optimistic, given that one of their own will head the archdiocese.
A Wednesday story in the Los Angeles Times discussed reaction among Los Angelinos at the predominantly immigrant parish of St. Michael’s Catholic Church in the south of the metropolis. Describing the parish as “abuzz” at the archbishop’s appointment, the article noted “a pervasive sense of pride, even elation, greeted the news that a compatriot would become the heir apparent.”
Juan Bramusco, a 60-year-old parishioner originally from Mexico, told the Times about Archbishop Gomez’s appointment: "Of course it makes you feel good. He's one of us; he understands us."
The “delighted” pastor of St. Michael’s, Msgr. David O’Connell, said the appointment was a recognition of the numbers of Latinos in the archdiocese.
Parishioner and construction worker Humberto Magallanes, 29, said that the incoming Archbishop had “big shoes to fill” because outgoing Archbishop Cardinal Roger Mahony has “fought for immigrants as much as anyone.”
Archbishop Gomez’s introductory message about the priority he places on championing immigrants “came through loud and clear” among immigrant Catholics, the Times reported.
For his part, Msgr. O’Connell noted a contrast between what is happening in Latino parishes and what is happening in the Church at large.
Because of scandals, he said, “the Church is having a difficult time. But at the parish level we are experiencing this whole new vitality and energy."
The Los Angeles Times’ first story on Archbishop Gomez’s appointment, published April 6, claimed that he has “raised eyebrows in the past” because of his affiliation with Opus Dei, which it said had been accused of “cult-like secrecy.” It also cited the prelature’s notorious “sinister role” from the fictional book and movie “The Da Vinci Code.”
The Times also cited press releases from sexual abuse victims’ groups critical of the archbishop.
Times columnist Steve Lopez in an April 7 column claimed he and Archbishop Gomez would start with a “clean slate,” but quickly launched into sexual abuse allegations. He proposed “a little quiz” about how the incoming archbishop would handle abusive priests and abusive allegations and voiced criticism of Cardinal Mahony’s response.
The columnist also asked about the archbishop’s “history with Opus Dei” and suggested that the ancient Christian practice of mortification of the flesh might be a cause of sexual abuse.