Hispanic immigrant elected US Bishops’ president

An immigrant from Mexico is the new president of the American Catholic Bishops’ Conference.

Los Angeles Archbishop Jose Gómez, 67, was the conference’s vice president, and in line with tradition where the vice president is elected president, there was little surprise when on Wednesday, he was elected on the first ballot.

When the results were announced, the room erupted in a standing ovation.

As well as the first Mexico-born US Bishops Conference president, Gómez is the first bishop elected to lead the conference to be associated with the very conservative and sometimes controversial Opus Dei.

Gómez however is considered a practical-minded conservative, and an outspoken advocate of a welcoming immigration policy that would include a path to citizenship for many immigrants living in the US illegally.

In August, after a gunman targeting Mexicans killed 22 people at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, Gómez condemned white supremacy, noting that Spanish was spoken in North America before English was, reports CNA.

“Men and women do not become less than human, less a child of God, because they are ‘undocumented,'” Gómez wrote.

“Yet, in our nation, it has become common to hear migrants talked about and treated as if they are somehow beneath caring about.”

Gómez, who has relatives and friends on both sides of the US-Mexico border, describes the situation surrounding the border and the Trump Wall as “tragedy”.

“Our encouragement to elected officials is to find a good, solid immigration reform that allows people to move legally”, he said responding to the border-suffering.

Humbled by the other US Bishops he calls his election, “A blessing for the Latino community.”

“He’s a man of faith,” Doris Quinania, who attended the celebration with a group from St. Frances X. Cabrini in Los Angeles, describes Gómez as ‘a man of faith who has a heart for all the poor, especially immigrants’.

Following the election of Gómez, the US bishops chose Detroit Archbishop Allen Vigneron, 71, as the new vice president.

By tradition, that puts Vigneron in line to become Conference president in three years, although, at that point, he would be close to the mandatory retirement age of 75.


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