By Christopher Wells
Archbishop Jóse Gómez of Los Angeles says the Bishops of the United States have a very clear vision for the future. “It’s clear to us that the first priority is evangelization,” he told Vatican News, “trying to follow in the ministry of Pope Francis, especially helping people to understand that we all are called to be missionary disciples”.
During their Fall General Assembly, which took place this week in Baltimore, the U.S. Bishops elected Archbishop Gómez as president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). Born in Mexico, he is the first Latino to head the Conference.
Describing his view of his new charge, Gómez said, “I think… one of the things that is essential for me [is] to really help Catholics to understand that their vocation is to grow in holiness, in personal relationship with Jesus”, and then to promote “the enthusiasm of sharing our faith with everybody else”.
Committed to the ministry of Pope Francis
Asked about the relationship between the hierarchy in the U.S. and the Pope, Gómez said “the Bishops in the United States are totally faithful to Pope Francis and his ministry”. He explained that the various documents promulgated by the Holy Father formed the basis for the Bishops’ discussions during the General Assembly, and noted that all of the American Bishops will be travelling to Rome over the course of the coming weeks for their regular “ad limina” visits to the Holy See. “We are excited [about] being with Pope Francis”, he said. “So I think we are totally committed to the ministry of Pope Francis”.
He dismissed any notion of division among the Bishops with regard to the Pope. “I think we are totally united in our ministry in the Church, and we understand that the Holy Father is the Vicar of Christ on earth”.
Archbishop Gómez said that for the U.S. Bishops every single document of the Pope Francis “is part of our ministry every single day”. He mentioned in particular the Apostolic Exhortation Christus vivit that followed last year’s Synod on Young People; and the Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii gaudium, on the proclamation of the Gospel in today’s world. “Clearly the teachings of Pope Francis are becoming a reality in many dioceses in the United States”.