Saturday, April 17, 2010

Gone Fishing.

This past week Cardinal Roger Mahony held a news conference along with Archbishop Jose Gomez to announce that Gomez will replace Mahony as the new Archbishop of Los Angeles within this next year.
There was a jovial tone expressed by both Mahony and Gomez at the transition. However, look more closely. The Devil is in the details as the old adage says. Now, let’s examine some of those details.

Timing is everything and certainly in this matter it holds true. Mahony turns 75 in the spring of 2011. Upon reaching his 75th birthday, as a bishop, he is required to submit a letter of resignation to the pope. The pope may accept the letter and replace him, or he may permit him to continue as head of his diocese. However, this process is being accelerated in Mahony’s case.

Another fact is that Gomez’s replacement for the Archbishop of San Antonio has not been decided, or announced. This underscores the acceleration of the process to replace Mahony by Rome. Why the rush? Could it possibly be because Mahony was recently deposed by a Federal Grand Jury investigating the Cover-Up scandal in the Los Angeles Archdiocese?

Another detail in this transition is that Mahony’s replacement is a member of Opus Dei. Catholic priests do not have children, but they do perpetuate themselves from one generation to the next by molding new priests in their own image and likeness. I once overheard a rector of a major seminary reviewing a new ordination class say, “Look at them, row upon row of priests and all of them just like me.”

Mahony, who likes to view himself as a progressive, would never voluntarily be replaced by a member of the ultra-reactionary group, Opus Dei. His replacement by someone from Opus Dei clearly communicates that Mahony has lost all practical influence in Rome and was not able to name his successor.

What does this mean for the future of the Catholic Church in Los Angeles and California? It means a sharp thrust to the right. The Archbishop of Los Angeles does not merely run the church in LA; he also has tremendous influence on naming the bishop in its associated sees (i.e. San Diego, Orange, Monterey, Fresno, and Riverside) and Region XI, which includes the rest of California. Many of these sees will soon require new bishops and Gomez will have tremendous influence in naming who those bishops will be. He will also reshape the education and formation of new priests for the whole region since St. John’s Seminary, where priests are trained and formed, is under his direct control.

Within the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, the first breezes of change are beginning to blow. As in any hierarchical organization, the person at the top of the pyramid sets the tone and the standards. The ranks of any structured organization are infested with sycophants and careerists. These individuals will do whatever it takes to advance themselves. They want to serve at the Chancery, also known as, the Pastoral Center. They want to serve on various Boards/Committees. They want to be tapped to be created an auxiliary (assistant) bishop. The most coveted position is a seat on the Personnel Board. That Board decides who will be assigned to various parishes. Members of the Board meet in quiet luncheons and dinners with each other before meetings and exchange favors. They decide who gets the more favorable, influential and prestigious assignments and who gets the worst.

Careerists will instantly zero in on all of Gomez’s likes and dislikes and take them on for themselves becoming little clones of Gomez. Gomez is an excellent choice from the perspective of Rome. He is a member of Opus Dei and therefore “orthodox” and more importantly subservient to Rome. He is a Latino who speaks broken English with a heavy Spanish accent and possesses a populist “easy going” demeanor. He will be a huge hit with Latinos in Southern California and politicians will think twice before confronting Gomez on any point.

Mahony joked that he has purchased a fishing license. Thereby, implying that he looks forward to a calm and leisurely retirement as lays down the burdens of power. I wonder if that is an Italian fishing license and if he will be in the same boat with retired Cardinal Bernard Law?


The Gay Straight Alliance said...

Fr Farrow, what type of implications do you project this new Archbishop will have for Catholic colleges in the LA area? I am a student at Loyola Marymount and am already facing fierce resistance, often in the name of the Church, in issues surrounding the struggle LGBT students face on campus.

Father Geoff said...

LMU is a Jesuit institution and so it enjoys some autonomy from the Archbishop of LA. However, the Jesuits still have to live and work with the Archbishop and this new Archbishop will be decidedly conservative on social issues. On LGBTQ issues he will probably be very strict and encourage organizations like Courage.

Mareczku said...

Fr. Farrow, how do you think Archbishop Gomez will reach out to progressive and LGBT Catholics? Is there any chance that he will accept gays as equal in their humanity to others or will he consider them disordered and inferior people who don't really need to be treated with respect?

In the Kitchen With Don said...

Kansas City, MO got an Opus Dei bishop a couple of years ago. He cleaned house! Got rid of lots of women religious who were involved in various types of parish ministry. Took a very successful school for training laity and pretty much shut the program. Made all sorts of un-Christian comments in the local news and the diocesan newspaper about gays and anyone who didn't toe the line he drew in the sand. So this could prove interesting for LA. I wish them much luck.

Patrick said...

Good bye and good riddance to Mahoney.

SisterKris said...

My community has sisters who work in various positions within the Church who could be replaced by men, so we wait with some (hopeful) anxiety about the new Bishop. :-/

Rushad said...

Appointing Archbishop Gomez, an orthodox defender of Catholic Truth, to the most heretical metropolitan see in this country was a stroke of genius on the part of the Holy Father. I look forward to many years of Cardinal-in-waiting Gomez's orthodox leadership from Mahony's Throne!