Rome, Italy, Nov 16, 2016 / 11:09 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Archbishop Silvano Tomasi said the election of Archbishop Jose Gómez as vice president of the U.S. bishop’s conference will serve as a great resource on immigration, especially in wake of the presidential election of Donald Trump — known for his “fiery” comments on the issue.
Head of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, Archbishop Gómez “has written and spoken very clearly on the rights of migrants and the need to respect their family structure, the family unit,” Archbishop Tomasi told EWTN News Nightly Nov. 16. When it comes to immigration, the archbishop said he believes Gómez will be “a good resource” not only for the Latino community, but for the entire Church due to “his own personal experience and also because of his flock, because the huge diocese of Los Angeles is made up of a lot of immigrants, millions of them.”
Archbishop Tomasi was present at a news briefing for the international conference “Business leaders, agents of social and economic inclusion,” organized by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace. Former Holy See Permanent Observer to the United Nations in Geneva, Tomasi currently serves as secretary-delegate of the Council for Justice and Peace, which is set to merge with several other Vatican dicasteries in January.
His comments come after Tuesday's election of Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston as president of the USCCB and Archbishop Gomez as its vice-president. With more than 4 million Catholics, Los Angeles is the largest U.S. diocese. Gómez himself is the highest-ranking Latino bishop in the United States.
Born in Monterrey, Mexico in 1951, Gómez was appointed auxiliary bishop of Denver, and made Archbishop of San Antonio in 2004. In 2010 he was appointed coadjutor archbishop of Los Angeles, succeeding as its ordinary the next year. In all of his roles Gómez has worked extensively in Hispanic ministry and played a key role in creating the Catholic Association of Latino Leaders. He has also been outspoken on pro-life issues, immigration, and the death penalty. In 2008, he was appointed as a consultant to the Pontifical Commission for Latin America. He has served in various roles for the U.S. bishops' conference, including in cultural diversity, doctrine, and Hispanics and liturgy.
Significantly, the election of Gómez and the rest of the U.S. bishops’ new leadership team took place just one week after Donald Trump was elected the next president of the United States following a campaign that was at times especially hostile to immigrants. In his comments to EWTN, Archbishop Tomasi noted that the rhetoric of Trump’s campaign was “is a bit fiery because of the nature of the campaign itself, to shake up the voters and force them to take a stand.”
“The language used by Trump has been very incendiary regarding the question of immigration,” he said, but observed that in his most recent statements after claiming victory the president-elect has been “much more balanced and moderate.” “We hope that this line will prevail both in his own personal attitude and in the selection of persons responsible to administer the different sectors of the life of the United States,” whether it be for the migration issue, the economy or relations with other countries.
Archbishop Tomasi noted that the Church in the United States has always kept an open channel of communication with the government, which is essential because she “is arguing from the evidence and the experience on the ground.” The advantage of the faith communities, both Catholics and those from other Christian denominations, is that “they represent the grassroots, they are in touch with the families and their everyday problems.”
“They can argue for the good of the country, both the good as the image, the humanitarian tradition, of the United States, and the good of the economy,” he said, noting how many undocumented immigrants are now “in the structure of the economy” and contribute by paying taxes, working and consuming goods produced in the U.S. In this sense, the various Christian Churches “can be really a good service to both the country and the immigrants.”
When it comes to relations with the Trump administration, Tomasi, who spoke at the U.S. Bishops’ plenary assembly Monday, said that since it was largely white Catholics who elected Trump, “now they can ask in return (for) a sense of balance in addressing the issues that are important for them.”
Mary Shovlain contributed to this report.