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Pope selects replacement for LA’s Cardinal Mahony

by Brad A. Greenberg

April 6, 2010 | 9:02 am

Archbishop Jose Gomez

The big LA news today, covered in more detail by the AP than the Los Angeles Times, is that the pope has selected a successor for Pope Benedicat XVI. Here’s the hometown story, posted online this morning:

The pontiff appointed Jose Gomez as co-adjutor archbishop of Los Angeles, an assisting position that essentially puts him first in line to succeed Mahony, who reaches the mandatory retirement age of 75 for bishops in February.

Gomez is archbishop of San Antonio, a post he took up five years ago, during the last few months of John Paul II’s papacy. Gomez, 58, is also a member of Opus Dei, the controversial order favored by John Paul II for its conservative teachings.

The selection of Gomez was apparently a nod to the demographics of Los Angeles, where Latinos form a large part of the overall population and especially of the region’s Roman Catholics. Gomez was born in Monterrey, Mexico, and speaks fluent Spanish.

His appointment comes as the Vatican struggles to contain the biggest crisis so far of Benedict’s papacy, an upwelling of complaints of physical and sexual abuse by priests across Europe.

The scandal mirrors an earlier one in the U.S., which has roiled the L.A. archdiocese and Mahony’s tenure as archbishop. Three years ago, Mahony agreed to a record $660-million legal settlement with more than 500 alleged victims of clerical abuse.

The archdiocese’s handling of abuse cases is also the subject of an ongoing investigation by a federal grand jury.

Interesting. And big, important news. I assume the LAT will have a bigger story about Gomez’s selection in tomorrow’s paper—though, with history as our guide, there are no guarantees.

What continues to drive me nuts, though, is news outlets referring to the fact that next year Mahony “reaches the mandatory retirement age of 75.” While this is true, the “retirement” is a pro forma event in which bishops submit their resignation and, in most cases, they stay on the job at the pope’s desire. That Mahony isn’t going to be around suggests that, finally, he’s persona non grata in Vatican City.

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