Friday, April 23, 2010

Applewhite on Abuse, Vatican, Benedict

Monica Applewhite, a leading expert in the field of sexual abuse who has helped the Church on screening, prevention, policy development and other issues, recently gave a lengthy interview with the National Catholic Register. The interview is worth reading in full, but here are some highlights.

Calling sexual abuse "a society-wide problem most people would prefer not to address," Applewhite lays out what she believes the Church has done right to combat it:

The Church in the U.S. is the first large-scale organization to take two important steps toward healing and prevention of future incidents of abuse. We are the first to conduct a full prevalence study to determine how many incidents, how many victims and how many perpetrators of abuse there were from 1950 to 2002.

The John Jay College [of Criminal Justice] conducted this comprehensive research, and it is published on the USCCB website. Anyone who truly wants to know “the problem” we are facing should review the findings.

Secondly, the Roman Church is the first institution of its size to implement a full program of accountability to ensure the implementation of its reform efforts. Again, an outside team, the Gavin Group, has conducted the audits of the dioceses.

Large-scale organizational change, deep cultural change simply does not happen without accountability.

She adds that the change in the Church's approach to dealing with an offending priest began to change for the better well before the Dallas Charter in 2002.

As laws changed, as understanding of sexual abuse and sexual offenders developed, so did the procedures of the Church in most local dioceses and communities.

It was 1992 when the bishops first began following the “Five Principles,” which included pastoral outreach to victims, investigations and open communication with communities.

Published in 1992, the bishops’ five principles were:

1) respond promptly to all allegations of abuse,

2) relieve the alleged offender promptly of his ministerial duties and refer him for appropriate medical evaluation and intervention,

3) comply with the obligations of civil law as regards reporting of the incident,

4) reach out to the victims and their families, and

5) deal as openly as possible with the members of the community.

What changed in 2002 was a dramatic improvement in uniformity, both within and across dioceses and religious communities. The toughest situations have always been when the allegation is against an extremely talented and charismatic priest, religious or lay minister. These are the situations in any organization that are the most divisive, the most difficult and the most likely to be handled improperly.

When the allegation seems impossible, in the absence of accountability, there is often a temptation to hope the situation will just “go away.”

In 2002, listening to stories of victims who were abused by just this type of offender, the bishops and religious superiors made commitments that would end “the exceptions.” These commitments and the associated accountability also addressed the fact that some leaders had simply elected not to follow the guidance of the five principles, and that also brought greater uniformity to the handling of allegations.

On the subject of criticisms that remain regarding the Church's handling of this, she offers:

Much of the public criticism of the Church’s early handling of cases stems from a lack of knowledge about the historical context of this phenomenon.

I have seen newspaper articles criticizing officials for not reporting acts of abuse to the civil authorities during years when there were no child protective services and the particular behaviors involved were not criminalized yet. It is fair for criticism of decisions made in the ’60s and ’70s to focus on interpretation of moral behavior, weakness in the resolve of leaders or even the disregard of procedures set out in canon law. By the same token, it is essential to separate this from expectations that are based on the laws and standards of today.

We began studying sexual abuse in the 1970s, discovered it caused real harm in 1978, and realized perpetrators were difficult to rehabilitate in the 1990s. During the ’70s when we were sending offenders to treatment, the criminal justice system was doing the very same thing with convicted offenders — sending them to treatment instead of prison.

At the time, it was believed they could be cured with relative ease. This is a very young body of knowledge, and as we sort through both valid and questionable criticisms, we must consider the historical context of any given episode. Regarding the work that remains to be done, the most pressing concern for me is the lack of protocols to guide the supervision and accountability for priests and religious who have been accused or found to have sexually offended in the past or who have completed their obligations to the criminal justice system.

There continues to be a belief that aging and the passing of time will render these men safe. I understand we cannot supervise them if they are no longer a priest or religious, but as long as they are, we should strive to know how they spend their time and whether they are upholding the limits that have been placed on them.

On Pope Benedict's personal history of handling abuse, she says:

From my perspective, deep change in the culture of the Vatican began with Cardinal Ratzinger and has been solidified since he became Pope Benedict XVI.

When I began working with priests who had sexually offended, they would sometimes try to intimidate me with threats that if they “sent their case to Rome” to appeal how they were treated, that they would “win.” This was in response to my developing systems to hold them accountable for how they spent their time, who they visited and whether the people in their lives were aware of the sexual abuse they had committed.

Many times I heard, “You are in violation of my rights!” They clearly felt they had the upper hand.

Since that time, and particularly since 2000, the balance of power has shifted. I have since worked with many priests and religious who have sexually offended against minors, and if you ask them today, they would be very unlikely to assume that “Rome” is on their side.

Today, clerical and religious sexual offenders recognize they can be laicized for their crimes or for a failure to adhere to obedience. This gives us much more leverage in terms of ensuring adherence to safety provisions.

Several men I know have “tested” the CDF (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith) and found no tolerance for sexual abuse in the priesthood and no sympathy for the cleric who disagrees with programs of prayer and penance. Evidence of where Pope Benedict XVI stands can be found in the following examples:

1. He was the one who declared the use of Internet and other forms of child pornography to be a delictum gravius (a “grave delict”) — the same as a contact offense with a minor. He came to this conclusion at a time when many criminal jurisdictions were still debating the criminality of Internet pornography.

2. When he [became Pope], he appointed Cardinal [William] Levada from the U.S., clearly the country most likely to produce a stringent successor. As the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Cardinal Levada has continued the legacy of increasingly strong response to sexual offenses by priests and religious.

3. The victims of sexual abuse who met with the Holy Father here in the U.S. were deeply touched by their meeting. They said they felt like he knew their cases personally. It is possible he did or that he has just known so many that are similar. I give great credibility to those victims who met with him personally. If they say he “gets it,” I am inclined to believe them.

It is also important to know that in Pope Benedict XVI we have the individual who has seen more cases of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church than perhaps anyone else in the world. I believe he knows how serious the problem is, and that he understands the sacrifices that have to be made to fix it.

She says this issue will probably have an impact on Pope Benedict's legacy, but not necessarily in a negative way.

Now that so much information is coming forward I believe two things will happen. First, we will all be privy to the information we need in order to understand how much Pope Benedict’s resolve and commitment have already changed the system within our Church. We needed a pope that did not mind being considered “tough” and that is what we have. Instead of change happening “behind the scenes,” we will know about it. Second, all of the media attention and worldwide interest will give Pope Benedict just the political opportunity and leverage he needs to change the Church culture of silence and protection throughout the world much faster. He won’t have to “sell” change in the way he would have if this had not happened. Many of the barriers he has encountered for more than a decade will be broken down. I believe this will solidify his legacy as the agent of change and restoration of the Church for which he would want to be remembered.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Disconnect With and At the Vatican

The discovery of a 2001 letter from Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos that praised French Bishop Pierre Pican for refusing to report a priest/abuser to civil authorities shows the disconnect on handling sexual abuse of minors between the bishops in the United States and at least one Vatican congregations in Rome. It even shows a disconnect among offices in the Holy City.

Cardinal Castrillon wrote his letter in 2001, when he was prefect of the Vatican Congregation for Clergy. His view stood in contrast to that of the U.S. bishops, who nine years before, in 1992, had issued their five principles for dealing with accusations of sexual abuse. Number 3: “Comply with the obligations of civil law as regards reporting of the incident and cooperating with the investigation.”

The bishops repeated that mantra into the 21st Century. Reporters who covered religion could recite it, having heard it about a thousand times. Given the cardinal’s attitude in his missive to the French cleric in 2001, it’s no wonder Pope John Paul II decreed the same year that cases of sexual abuse of minors must go not to the Clergy Congregation or other congregations that oversaw priests and religious but to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, headed by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who became Pope Benedict XVI.

The U.S. bishops strengthened their 1992 recommendation when they pledged to report sexual abuse of minors to civil authorities as they adopted the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People in 2002. The Holy See implanted canonical teeth into the pledge when it approved the Essential Norms to make the Charter canon law for the United States. There’s no wiggle room when it comes to making a police report.

Article 4 of the Charter states: “Dioceses/eparchies are to report an allegation of sexual abuse of a person who is a minor to the public authorities. Dioceses/eparchies are to comply with all applicable civil laws with respect to the reporting of allegations of sexual abuse of minors to civil authorities and cooperate in their investigation in accord with the law of the jurisdiction in question.

“Diocese/eparchies are to cooperate with public authorities about reporting cases even when the person is no longer a minor.

“In every instance, dioceses/eparchies are to advise victims of their right to make a report to public authorities and support this right.”

The Essential Norms have ecclesial muscle and do not mince words.

Norm number 11: “The diocese/eparchy will comply withal applicable civil laws with respect to the reporting of allegations of sexual abuse of minors to civil authorities and will cooperate in their investigation. In every instance, the diocese/eparchy will advise and support a person’s right to make a report to public authorities.”

If that’s not clear enough, footnote 7 of the Norms states: “The necessary observance of the canonical norms internal to the church is not intended in any way to hinder the course of any civil action that may be operative.”

The Essential Norms are the official policy of the Holy See pertaining to the church in the United States. They count for a lot more than a buck-up letter from Cardinal Castrillon to Bishop Pican, who earned a three-month suspended sentence for not reporting abuse and violating French law. The priest/abuser got 18 years.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

About Time We Crunched Some Numbers

This morning's double appointment in Florida and Illinois, along with the progression of time et al, has left the state of vacant U.S. dioceses and bishops serving past retirement age looking rather different. As this is an issue we've neglected on this blog lately, it can't hurt to take a quick tally of where the numbers stand.

This morning, Pope Benedict accepted the resignation/retirement of Archbishop John Favalora of Miami and appointed Bishop Thomas Wenski of Orlando as his successor. The pope also named Chicago Auxiliary Bishop Thomas Paprocki the new bishop of Springfield in Illinois, a diocese that has been vacant (i.e. without a bishop) since now-Archbishop George Lucas was appointed Archbishop of Omaha last June.

Taking into account these appointments, as well as that of Archbishop Jose Gomez as Coadjutor Archbishop of Los Angeles earlier this month, and the U.S. Church currently has four vacant dioceses:

-- Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, vacant since November 14, 2009, when Bishop Kevin Rhoades was sent to Fort Wayne-South Bend, Indiana
-- La Crosse, Wisconsin, vacant since November 14, 2009, when then-Bishop Jerome Listecki was appointed Archbishop of Milwaukee
-- San Antonio, Texas, vacant since April 6, when Archbishop Gomez went to Los Angeles
-- Orlando, Florida, vacant since 6 a.m. today, with Archbishop-designate Wenski going to Miami

Strangely enough, both the Los Angeles and Orlando appointments involve the pending retirments of bishops who have not yet reached the retirement age of 75. So that list has not only remained the same, but has grown to five:

-- Bishop William Higi of Lafayette, Indiana, age 76
-- Archbishop Alexander Brunett of Seattle, age 76
-- Bishop William Skylstad of Spokane, Washington, age 76
-- Archbishop Eusebius Beltran of Oklahoma City, age 75
-- Cardinal Justin Rigali of Philadelphia, who turned 75 yesterday

(Bishop Kevin Boland of Savannah, Georgia, will turn 75 this Sunday.)

So, congrats to Miami and Springfield on their new bishops! And as always, many prayers for the rest of the Church too.

Hat tip to David Cheney.

Friday, April 16, 2010

A Muted Milestone

Pope Benedict XVI’s anniversary April 19 is time to reminisce. The pontiff, who turned 83, April 16, surprised the world half a decade ago. People thought he would be harsh because he’d been a fierce watchdog when he headed the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF). Instead, they found a calm demeanor, shy smile and persuasive rather than demanding style.

He drew applause on his visit to the United States in April 15-20, 2008. He had a 63 percent approval rate, according to Gallup. Now Gallup reports 40 percent, likely because he is at the center of a sex abuse scandal for not being quick enough to oust offenders from the priesthood when at CDF. He is paying too for sins on his watch as Archbishop of Munich and Freising, where a priest abuser was recklessly allowed back into ministry and abused again. The vicar general at the time accepts blame but the captain of the bark still bears responsibility.

The criticism is ironic, given the pope’s courage in fighting sexual abuse of minors. He wasn’t in office long when he stood up to the founder of the Legionaries of Christ, Father Marcial Maciel Degollado, and told him to stand down -- out of leadership and into prayer and penitence for abuse of women and children. The power of the group that wags called the “Millionaires of Christ” did not deter him.

Pope Benedict is not given to the moving gestures of Pope John Paul II, a natural thespian. Nevertheless, Pope Benedict touched the world when during his U.S. visit he met in the Vatican embassy with victims of sexual abuse. He held whispered conversations with each one, offered his personal apology. He met with a similar group in Australia.

The pain of sexual abuse permeated the U.S. trip and he decried it on several occasions. Even before his plane set down he told the media entourage, “I am deeply ashamed and we will do what is possible so this cannot happen again in the future.” He added “it is a great suffering for the Church in the United States and for the church in general and for me personally that this could happen…It is difficult for me to understand how it was possible that priests betray in this way their mission … to these children.”

Two years later, he faced child sex abuse in the predominantly Catholic Ireland. He met with the country’s bishops, accepted the resignation of some who had dealt poorly with victim/survivors and had strong words in a letter to the Irish church.

“You have suffered grievously and I am truly sorry,” he apologized to victim/survivors. “Your trust has been betrayed and your dignity violated.”

He told priest/abusers: “You betrayed the trust that was placed in you by innocent young people and their parents, and you must answer for it before Almighty God and before properly constituted tribunals.”

He criticized Ireland’s bishops.

“I recognize how difficult it was to grasp the extent and complexity of the problem, to obtain reliable information and to make the right decisions in the light of conflicting expert advice,” he wrote. “Nevertheless, it must be admitted that grave errors of judgment were made and failures of leadership occurred. All this has seriously undermined your credibility and effectiveness.”
The pope sent a universal message when he said “the problem of child abuse is peculiar neither to Ireland nor to the Church” and will require steady effort. “No one imagines that this painful situation will be resolved quickly,” he said. “Real progress has been made, yet much more remains to be done.

Father Federico Lombardi, the Vatican spokesman, recently said the Vatican is looking at "deepening of the measures of prevention and response" to abuse. That’s important and proof again that Pope Benedict has the will to address this horrific matter. He will get little credit for his efforts, however, because this problem never should have occurred. It is unfair, but it is harsh reality. Lucky for him, he seeks only the gratitude of God.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Mary Makes Newsweek

The picture of the Virgin Mary on the cover of Newsweek is good marketing since Mary resonates at a deep, almost visceral level with Catholics and even those beyond the Catholic Church. If you want a cover to stop people in their tracks at the airport or drug store, featuring Mary is a smart move.

People relate to her, like they relate to their mother, someone always there, who, in the case of an Irish mother, may even think her son comes close to being God. When you feel sorrow, you know Mary’s been there too. When you want the silent supporter, you recall her at the foot of the cross, steadfast when even that band of brothers, the apostles, had scattered. She gets the human experience.

Lisa Miller’s accompanying cover essay about women in the church doesn’t go in this direction, however. In fact, it is somewhat off-base, like facile cocktail party conversation. Observations get tossed about without scrutiny. For example, she states, wrongly, that “few women retain high-profile management jobs, such as chancellor, within dioceses.” Fact-checking proves that wrong. If you take the requirement for ordination off the table, data shows that the number of women in leadership positions in Catholic dioceses is comparable to that of the women in the U.S. workforce as a whole. One quarter of diocesan positions at the highest level, such as chancellor or chief financial officer, are held by women. You don’t find similar numbers among U.S. corporations.

Influence in the church does not depend upon ordination, though there is no doubt that it helps. The greatest impact of the Catholic Church in the United States arguably has been through its education and hospital systems, where women have taken the lead from the start. Church women also have had an impact beyond the church. Mother Teresa of Calcutta, for example, touched hearts everywhere and educated us to the extent of abject global poverty. Historically, some women even have overshadowed popes. Most educated people have heard of Teresa of Avila and Catherine of Siena. Does anyone, even the highly educated, know who the popes were when these women lived?

Lisa Miller’s article sinks into male-bashing, church-style. She notes that not everyone in the church is bad, and suggests some hope for the church, thanks to women. She scoffs churchmen just as women when alone will dis men as hopeless and helpless, etc. (and no doubt as men similarly dis women when men gather by themselves) This is good for laughs, but not to be taken seriously.

The topic de jour for media now is sexual abuse of minors by clergy. Lisa Miller’s article seems to reduce the problem to one that could be resolved by breaking open the all-male, celibate priesthood. You can’t get a more simplistic analysis than that. Statistics show that 30-40 percent of sexual abuse occurs in the home, and that’s a conservative estimate.

Thankfully the Catholic Church has not bought this quick solution line but has instead pursued serious study into the why of sexual abuse. By year’s end the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops expects to release the results of a causes and context study that it commissioned the City University of New York’s John Jay College of Criminal Justice to do.

So Newsweek asks: What would Mary do? The question is worth pondering. We don’t know a lot about her. We know she slipped off to Egypt with Joseph to protect her child from a threatening Herod. We know that with a comment, “They have no wine,” she saved the wedding feast of Cana. We know that when the bereft apostles gathered in an upper room after Jesus’ death she stood with them. She protected the innocent child, no matter the cost. She heard another’s pain and acted. She stood in solidarity. These were not grandiose displays but they were selfless acts which had a profound impact for centuries afterwards. And they got her on the cover of Newsweek too.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Media Decides, Then Reports

This piece recently appeared on the Washington Post's On Faith blog. It is reprinted here with the Post's permission.

Generally I don’t battle those buying ink by the barrel. However, recent coverage of the Catholic Church by mainstream media makes me wonder what has happened to the Fourth and Fifth Estates.

Maybe it’s that cutbacks have decimated newsrooms of knowledge and experience. Maybe it’s the competition inherent in a 24/7 news cycle that makes some stories too good to check. Maybe it’s the current incivility it America where decency gets short shrift.

Some quarters of the media in the last few weeks seem to have a difficulty in getting stories right and fair. Fact-checkers and skeptical editors may have gone the way of dinosaurs. Some media appear to cite people for inflammability and absurdity, not knowledge. At times it seems that bias abounds, libel runs freely, and scrutiny lies by the side of the road.

Example: The Washington Post ran an opinion piece on Palm Sunday by Irish singer Sinead O’Connor, whose claim to fame in the U.S. previously was for a Saturday Night Live performance 18 years ago when she ripped up a picture of Pope John Paul II.As the Washington Post’s theologian at the start of Holy Week, she declared that “all good Catholics … should avoid Mass.” The Web site of the same newspaper ran a vitriolic blog entry by atheist Richard Dawkins. The British scientist called the Catholic Church an “evil, corrupt organization” and a “rotten edifice” and spewed more of his anti-Catholic screed in, of all places, the On Faith section of the Washington Post-Newsweek blog. Neither Sinead O’Connor nor Richard Dawkins, while free with their opinions, seems an expert on Catholicism. They’re simply well-known. Given that editorial criterion, readers might worry that if cannibal Jeffrey Dahmer were still alive, the Post would hire him as a food critic.

MSNBC libeled the pope in Holy Week with a Web site headline – Pope describes touching boys: I went too far – which has since been removed. The headline was intended to grab attention – it did – but had not a shred of substantiation in the story it headed. Fellow media outlets, who rightly cry indignantly when they see plagiarism among their brethren, gave MSNBC a pass on the libel. MSNBC dropped the headline and apologized after the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights made noise.

A main source for many media these days seems to be plaintiffs’ attorneys, who distribute old material they’ve “found” in the discovery process. Plaintiffs’ lawyers speak of “secret” documents, more properly called “confidential,” and offer their own interpretation of the materials as well as church motivation in drafting them. Media with a frightening naiveté report on these materials as if the plaintiffs’ lawyers constitute a new Oracle of Delphi. On Wednesday of Holy Week AP reported as “breaking news,” a 1963 letter “obtained by the Associated Press” about pedophilia that was sent to Pope Paul VI by Father Gerald Fitzgerald, who headed a now-closed treatment center in New Mexico. What took AP so long? Father Fitzgerald’s letters were reported in The New York Times a year ago. The story didn’t take hold then, but with nothing better to use to keep their story going, plaintiffs’ attorneys recycled the documents and AP thought it had the scoop of the year.

There’s a lot to be reported on child sexual abuse. It’s a sin and a crime and more prevalent in society than anyone ever dreamed before the 21st century. Some organizations, such as the Catholic Church in the United States, have made massive efforts to deal with it. People are learning how to spot abusers. The Catholic Church has educated more than two million people to do so. Children are learning how to protect themselves. The Catholic Church has educated more than five million children in this regard. There are lots of stories there. But such stories take time to report and plaintiffs’ attorneys make no money promoting them. And that, at least for now, isn’t news.

When Bishops Go Nuclear

President Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev met today in Prague to sign the latest incarnation of the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START), in which each nation pledged to reduce its nuclear arsenals by nearly a third over the next seven years with an aim of eventual disarmament.

The position of the U.S. bishops on this issue is not new. The bishops first called for nuclear disarmament in their 1983 document The Challenge of Peace: God's Promise and Our Response. This was further developed in their 1993 document The Harvest of Justice is Sown in Peace.

The past year has been an eventful one for the bishops on this issue. Last April, President Obama first committed to nuclear disarmament. Around that time, Catholic press veteran Jerry Filteau, writing for National Catholic Reporter, critiqued what he called the bishops' absence from the nuclear debate. The critique was ironic, given that the bishops had been releasing regular letters and statements on the issue over the years, including one from Albany Bishop Howard J. Hubbard, Chairman of the bishops' Committee on International Justice and Peace, which quickly followed President Obama's announcement.

The voice of the bishops on this issue took on new prominence last July when Baltimore Archbishop Edwin O'Brien addressed the 2009 Deterrence Symposium in Omaha, sponsored by the U.S. Strategic Command. Addressing a largely military audience, Archbishop O'Brien noted his own military background, from his ministry as a chaplain during the Vietnam War to his service as Archbishop for the Military Services for a decade before his appointment to Baltimore, before candidly rolling out the Church's position on nuclear disarmament.

The response was strong -- with some in the media noting that the archbishop's military background gave the message some extra heft. "Only Nixon could go to China," as the Vulcan proverb goes. The response was also strong enough for Archbishop O'Brien to be invited to Paris to participate in the Global Zero Summit in February of this year.

The purpose of the Global Zero meeting was, in part, to raise the profile of negotiations between the U.S. and Russia on a new nuclear treaty. Going off of today's signing, their efforts seem to have paid off.

UPDATE: On April 8, Cardinal Francis George of Chicago, President of the U.S. Bishops, sent a letter to President Obama, welcoming the signing of the new START treaty and urging bipartisan effort to ratify the treaty in the U.S. Senate.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Los Angeles y los católicos latinos

[Esta es una traducción al español del blog publicado por Don Clemmer unas horas antes.]

Durante sus cinco años como papa, Benedicto XVI ha nombrado obispos en todo el mundo, incluyendo muchos en Estados Unidos. Especialmente destacables son los nombramientos para algunas de nuestras más grandes y prestigiosas sedes. Un repaso de algunos de estos nombramientos hasta el momento incluirían:
-- Arzobispo Donald Wuerl para Washington en Mayo de 2006
-- Arzobispo Edwin O’Brien para Baltimore en Julio de 2007
-- Arzobispo Allen Vigneron para Detroit en Enero de 2009
-- Arzobispo Timothy Dolan para Nueva York en Febrero de 2009

Se suma a esta lista hoy el nombramiento del Arzobispo José Gomez de San Antonio como arzobispo coadjutor de Los Ángeles. En nombramiento para Los Ángeles rivaliza con el de Nueva York en términos del tamaño de ambas arquidiócesis — son respectivamente la primera y segunda sedes más populosas en los Estados Unidos. Pero el de L.A. conlleva también una sensación de que se está haciendo historia. El actual arzobispo de Los Ángeles, el Cardenal Roger Mahony, ha estado en el puesto desde 1985. (Nueva York ha sido dirigida por tres diferentes arzobispos en ese mismo periodo de tiempo.)

Pero más allá de recibir a un nuevo arzobispo después de un cuarto de siglo, el nombramiento para Los Ángeles tiene un significado verdaderamente histórico para los latinos católicos en Estados Unidos. Es difícil pensar en un reconocimiento público más prominente para este segmento creciente de la Iglesia en Estados Unidos que el de ver a un latino hecho obispo de la diócesis estadounidense más grande (en términos de población).

Como miembro de la Conferencia de Obispos Católicos de los Estados Unidos, el Arzobispo Gomez ha ejercido liderazgo en varias posiciones. Fue el primer presidente del recientemente creado Comité de Diversidad Cultural en la Iglesia. También es presidente del Subcomité para la Iglesia en América Latina y presidente electo del Comité sobre Migración.

En la actualidad hay cerca de 40 obispos hispanos, en activo o retirados, en los Estados Unidos, 13 de los cuales lideran diócesis. Las siguientes estadísticas fueron proporcionadas por el Secretariado de Diversidad Cultural de la Conferencia de Obispos:

- Los hispanos/latinos están presentes en la práctica totalidad de las diócesis de los Estados Unidos.
- Más del 20 por ciento de todas las parroquias católicas en Estados Unidos tienen ministerio hispano.
- Los hispanos/latinos comprenden más del 35 por ciento de todos los católicos en Estados Unidos.
- Los hispanos/latinos son responsables por el 71 por ciento del crecimiento de la Iglesia católica en Estados Unidos desde 1960.
- Más del 50 por ciento de todos los católicos en Estados Unidos menores de 25 años son de origen latino.
- Hasta la fecha unos 40 obispos hispanos/latinos han sido ordenados en los Estados Unidos, 28 de los cuales permanecen en activo, comprendiendo un 9 por ciento del episcopado católico en los Estados Unidos.

LA and Latino Catholics

In his five years as pope, Benedict XVI has appointed bishops all over the world, including dozens in the U.S., including new archbishops in some of our country's largest, most prestigious sees. A rundown thus far would include the appointments of:

-- Archbishop Donald Wuerl to Washington in May 2006

-- Archbishop Edwin O'Brien to Baltimore in July 2007

-- Archbishop Allen Vigneron to Detroit in January 2009

-- Archbishop Timothy Dolan to New York in February 2009

Joining that list today is the appointment of Archbishop José Gomez of San Antonio as Coadjutor Archbishop of Los Angeles. The Los Angeles appointment ranks with the New York appointment in terms of sheer size of the archdioceses -- they're the first and second largest sees in the United States. But the LA appointment also brings with it the feel of history being made. The current Archbishop of Los Angeles, Cardinal Roger Mahony, has served since 1985. (New York has been served by three different archbishop during that span.)

But more than receiving its first new archbishop in a quarter century, the LA appointment is historic in its significance for Latino Catholics in the United States. It's hard to think of a more high-profile acknowledgement of this growing segment of the U.S. Church than having a Latino made bishop of our largest diocese.

Within the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Archbishop Gomez is a leader who served as the first Chairman of the newly-created Committee on Cultural Diversity in the Church. He is also Chairman of the Subcommittee for the Church in Latin America and Chairman-elect of the Committee on Migration.

There are about 40 active and retired Latino bishops in the United States, 13 of them heading dioceses. In the way of other statistics, the following were provided by the USCCB's Secretariat of Cultural Diversity:

• Hispanics/Latinos(as) are present in practically every diocese of the United States.

• More than 20 percent of all Catholic parishes in the United States have Hispanic/Latino(a) ministry.

• Hispanics/Latinos(as) compose more than 35 percent of all Catholics in the United States.

• Hispanics/Latinos(as) have contributed 71 percent of the growth of the Catholic Church in the United States since 1960.

• More than 50 percent of all Catholics in the United States under age 25 are of Hispanic/Latino(a) descent.

• To date, 40 Hispanic/Latino bishops have been ordained in the United States, 28 of whom are active. They make up 9 percent of all Catholic bishops in the United States.

• Over the past few years, 15 percent of all new priests ordained in the United States have been of Hispanic/Latino(a) descent.