(Crux) For watchers of the American Catholic scene, Archbishop José Gómez of Los Angeles is an ever more fascinating figure for many reasons, but perhaps the most compelling is that he’s a living, breathing reductio ad absurdum on the notion that bishops are somehow in bed with either the political left or the right when they take positions on matters of public policy.
Gómez, 65, has been in charge in Los Angeles since he took over from retired Cardinal Roger Mahony, and, at the time, the transition was perceived as having an ideological edge. Now 81, Mahony had been in L.A. since 1985, and for much of that span was seen as a leading progressive force in the church, embodying a “Vatican II” vision of things.
Gómez, on the other hand, came with solid conservative credentials. Born in Monterrey, Mexico, and now a naturalized U.S. citizen, while in college Gómez joined Opus Dei, a “personal prelature” in the Catholic Church generally viewed as fairly conservative on both secular politics and church affairs.
(In reality, Opus Dei as such has no political agenda at all, but there’s no point denying that sociologically, at least, most of its membership probably does lean to the right.)
Gómez began his episcopal career as an auxiliary bishop in Denver, where he was the protégé of Archbishop Charles Chaput, now in Philadelphia, and widely seen as a strong conservative. After he became the Archbishop of San Antonio in 2004, Gómez disbanded an archdiocesan Peace and Justice office after it opposed a state constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, objected when St. Mary’s University hosted candidate Hillary Clinton in 2008, and warmly welcomed Pope emeritus Benedict XVI’s move to widen permission for celebration of the older Latin Mass. [More]