Washington D.C., Oct 3, 2017 / 11:06 am
During the annual Red Mass marking a new term of the U.S. Supreme Court, Archbishop Jose Gomez of Los Angeles said that early American missionaries should be honored among the founding fathers of the United States.
“These missionaries – together with the colonists and the statesmen who came later – they laid the spiritual and intellectual groundwork for a nation that remains unique in human history,” Gomez told lawyers and judges during his homily at the 65th Red Mass.
“A nation conceived under God and committed to promoting human dignity, freedom and the flourishing of a diversity of peoples, races, ideas and beliefs.”
The Red Mass is celebrated on the Sunday before the first Monday in October, which marks the beginning of the Supreme Court’s annual term. The liturgy is held at St. Matthew the Apostle Church in Washington D.C., and is meant to invoke God’s blessing on elected officials and members of the justice system.
Reflecting on the 5 million Catholics speaking 40 different languages in the L.A. Archdiocese, Gomez discussed current immigration issues and touched on the spiritual foundations laid by Franciscan missionaries.
He gave the example of the recently canonized St. Junipero Serra, whom he called a champion for indigenous people. The Franciscan saint had written a “bill of rights” to protect the natives when the colonial government refused to acknowledge their full dignity, he said.
“Remembering St. Junípero and the first missionaries changes how we remember our national story. It reminds us that America’s first beginnings were not political. America’s first beginnings were spiritual.”
The archbishop reflected on the birth of the Church at Pentecost, where the Holy Spirit gave the “mission of gathering all the peoples of the earth into one family of God.”