First of all, I need to introduce myself: my name is Michael Denton and I’m from what Tito calls the People’s Republic of Cajunland and what I call paradise: South Louisiana. As for my qualifications: well, like most other bloggers, I really have no idea what I’m talking about. If that’s a problem for you…well, then you probably don’t need to be reading blogs.
Anyway, today we heard the anticipated news that Los Angeles will soon see Cardinal Mahoney replaced with San Antonio’s Archbishop Jose Gomez. To read all about it, I suggest you head over to Rocco Palmo‘s site, as he is one of the few bloggers who actually does know what he’s talking about. In sum, Abp. Gomez is from the “conservative” order of Opus Dei and could be very different from his predecessor, who built a monstrous cathedral (not in a good way) and is known for hosting a Conference that annually provides Youtube clips for Catholics wishing to show others just how bad liturgical abuse can be. I don’t know if that’s very interesting though. While the liturgical element is certainly important, as the “Spirit of Vatican II” types are losing their foremost defender, I think we knew beforehand that Benedict was going install a replacement very different from Mahoney in liturgical views.
More important is how they’re similar.
Remember, that while Catholics-in-the-know think “liturgy” when think of Mahoney, to the rest of the world Mahoney brings up either immigration or the sex abuse scandal. Mahoney was a strong defender of the Catholic Church’s teaching on immigration, even going so far as to push the point in December in the healthcare debate when other bishops had left the issue to focus on abortion coverage. While Los Angeles is significantly Hispanic, I don’t think its an accident that America’s leader in promotion of the Church’s immigration issues will be followed by a Hispanic.I think then this is a signal that Benedict wants continued attention to the issue of immigration and the Church’s teaching on the subject. While many Catholics don’t realize that there is such a thing as “Church teaching on immigration” (and I include myself in this number until a few years ago), Benedict has emphasized it, including in his latest encyclical Caritas in Veritate:
62… We are all witnesses of the burden of suffering, the dislocation and the aspirations that accompany the flow of migrants. The phenomenon, as everyone knows, is difficult to manage; but there is no doubt that foreign workers, despite any difficulties concerning integration, make a significant contribution to the economic development of the host country through their labour, besides that which they make to their country of origin through the money they send home. Obviously, these labourers cannot be considered as a commodity or a mere workforce. They must not, therefore, be treated like any other factor of production. Every migrant is a human person who, as such, possesses fundamental, inalienable rights that must be respected by everyone and in every circumstance
Benedict, popularized as a conservative, has cared about this issue and I don’t think it’s a coincidence that he has installed a bishop from a conservative order to carry on the mantle of social justice for immigrants in the American Church. After all, Caritas in Veritate’s hope was to put an end to the false division between social justice issues and the life issues that we find dividing American Catholics politically. This appointment is, if nothing else, yet another call by our Holy Father to American Catholics for a holistic embracing of the teachings of the Church.
So while conservatives rejoice at the sufferings the liberals must endure at the loss of their liturgical dancers, it would be wise to remember that Benedict wants some change from the right as well.