San Antonio Archbishop Jose Gomez’s appointment to succeed Cardinal Roger Mahony as leader of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles was hailed by many members of the Catholic Church this week, but some representatives of community groups in Texas view his work there as less than stellar.
Several leaders of social and workers rights organizations in San Antonio warned in interviews that Los Angeles community groups should not expect a partner in their social fights.
“He hasn’t done anything negative. Many people like him a lot ... but we haven’t seen very much engagement from him in social issues that affect our people, like immigration,” said Juan Flores, executive director of La Fe Research and Education Center in San Antonio. “I know that the level of activism in Los Angeles is very high, and I would think that community leaders might want to have a colleague in the archbishop, but that may not happen with him.”
Ruben Solis, a long-term organizer with the Southwest Workers Union, said Gomez operates more within the church than in the community.
“The previous archbishop had a more open public commitment with social causes, and now the church has kept away from those,” Solis said. “There is no visibility [on] the part of the archbishop.”
Graciela Sanchez, executive director of the Esperanza Peace and Justice Center, which advocates for women’s rights and the lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender community, agreed.
“Personally, and as a representative of the Esperanza Peace and Justice Center,” Sanchez said, “we're happy that he's leaving to [go to] L.A.”
-- Francisco Castro
Photo: Archbishop Jose Gomez of San Antonio addresses the news media after Cardinal Roger Mahony introduced him Tuesday at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in Los Angeles. Credit: Al Seib / Los Angeles Times