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Friday, May 28, 2010

Archbishop Gomez analyzes future of Hispanics in US Catholic Church

Los Angeles, Calif., May 28, 2010 / 06:02 am (CNA).- As he prepares to lead the largest archdiocese in the United States, Archbishop Jose Gomez, spoke with CNA in an exclusive interview addressing the role of Hispanics in the U.S. Catholic Church.

The full text of the interview can be read below:

CNA: What is your own background?

Archbishop Gomez: I grew up in Monterrey, Mexico. My father was a medical doctor in Monterrey. My mother was raised in San Antonio, Texas, where she completed high school. She also went to college in Mexico City, and although she completed her course, my mother married my father instead of graduating. Education was always very important in my family.

I am both an American citizen and an immigrant, born and raised in Monterrey, Mexico. Some of my ancestors were in what’s now Texas, since 1805. (At that time it was still under Spanish rule.) I’ve always had family and friends on both sides of the border.

CNA: As the next Archbishop of Los Angeles, you will be the most prominent Hispanic prelate in the Catholic Church in the United States. What is your view of the state of Catholicism among U.S. Hispanics?

Gomez: The number of Hispanics self-identifying as Catholics has declined from nearly 100 percent in just two decades, while the number who describe themselves as Protestant has nearly doubled, and the number saying they have “no religion” has also doubled.

I’m not a big believer in polls about religious beliefs and practice. But in this case the polls reflect pastoral experience on the ground.

CNA: What questions do you see as key for Catholic ministry to U.S. Hispanics?

Gomez: As Hispanics become more and more successful, more and more assimilated into the American mainstream, will they keep the faith? Will they stay Catholic or will they drift away—to Protestant denominations, to some variety of vague spirituality, or to no religion at all?

Will they live by the Church’s teachings and promote and defend these teachings in the public square? Or will their Catholicism simply become a kind of “cultural” background, a personality trait, a part of their upbringing that shapes their perspective on the world but compels no allegiance or devotion to the Church?

Hispanic ministry should mean only one thing—bringing Hispanic people to the encounter with Jesus Christ in his Church.

All our pastoral plans and programs presume that we are trying to serve Christ and his Gospel. But we can no longer simply presume Christ. We must make sure we are proclaiming him.

We should thank God every day many times for the good things we have been given. But we also need to give thanks to God through service, through works of mercy and love.

CNA: What is the most serious problem Hispanic Catholics face in the U.S.?

Gomez: The dominant culture in the United States, which is aggressively, even militantly secularized. This is a subject that unfortunately doesn’t get much attention at all in discussions about the future of Hispanic ministry. But it’s time that we change that...  Read the whole article.

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Fr. Phillips is the founding pastor of Our Lady of the Atonement Catholic Church, the first Anglican Use parish, established on August 15, 1983. Not that there is any confusion, but he is on the left, shown in his younger, less gray-headed days.