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Cardinal Mahony Welcomes His Successor

By Ed Fuentes
Published: Thursday, May 27, 2010, at 12:34PM
Cardinals Mahony and Gomez Ed Fuentes

Cardinal Roger Mahony (L) welcomes his successor, Coadjutor Archbishop Jose H. Gomez.



On a day that American Idols worshipped at L.A. Live and the conservation faithful gathered in one of the Historic Theater temples on Broadway for Last Remaining Seats, yesterday's most powerful spiritual gathering was at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels. There, the Archdiocese of Los Angeles welcomed its next archbishop, Jose H. Gomez.

Cardinal Roger Mahony, head of the country's most populous Roman Catholic archdiocese since 1985, will retire in February on his 75th birthday.

The ritual and incensed filled two-hour Mass was rich in transition and humor, featuring a short ceremony where the parish agreed to the new appointment of leadership.

It was after Mahony's homily that the letter from Pope Benedict XVI naming Gomez as the incoming leader of the archdiocese was read and presented.

Mahony then faced the congregation to ask if they are committed to the new coadjutor archbishop.

“We are,” said the masses quietly. The crowd inside the cathedral included seven cardinals, 59 bishops and 411 priests.

The 58-year-old Gomez, who was born in Monterrey, Mexico, will serve as coadjutor archbishop until February.

His banter with Mahony on Wednesday indicated that the two will get along well during Gomez' time of apprenticeship.

Toward the end of the introductions, Gomez stated that the day offered "two homilies for the price of one. And its free. It's a good deal."

God doesn’t see strangers according to Gomez during his homily, adding “no one is an alien for any of us.” When repeated in Spanish, the phrase brought forth scattered applause from parishioners.

Mahony again faced the congregation at the end of the service to say that his study of the church rules that apply to where an incoming leader sits had shown that the ceremonial throne “must be fitting.” He invited Gomez to try his chair for size.

With Holy Leaders and followers laughing and applauding, Gomez was escorted by Mahony to his large wooden chair. As if he knew this was the ritual that held as much symbolism as anything that afternoon, he paused before sitting. "It's kind of big, but I think I can make it," said Gomez to cheers and laughter.

The same may be said for his task he will face with the archdiocese, which is at the heart of the politics of immigration and, while not mentioned, still healing from the wounds of scandal and settlement.

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