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.