Caveat: Note that Scripps' puffery gives token mention of criticism of Opus Dei's Archbishop Gomez, without peering too deeply into his "conservative" politics and connections. "Conservatism" is offered here unquestioningly as a corrective influence on the corrupt Catholic Church - a welcome "change," echoing the mantra of the Obama campaign - as if "conservatives," including Ratzinger, weren't the source of the Vatican's current problems in the first place. This opinion-page spam is a sterling example of syndicated media content, but it offers precious insights on the Vatican's mismanagement and propaganda machine. It also manages to be very depressing and funny at the same time ...
By MARJORIE HERNANDEZ
While theologians and scholars believe the key appointment of a Latino archbishop to the largest and arguably the most influential Catholic archdiocese in the world signals the return to a more conservative direction in the Roman Catholic faith, followers said they welcome change during a time of increasing global criticism of church leadership.
In the midst of growing international criticism over clerical sexual abuse cases, Pope Benedict XVI last week named San Antonio Archbishop Jose Gomez to succeed Cardinal Roger Mahony as the leader of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles after he retires in February on his 75th birthday.
The move to replace Mahony with the 58-year old Latino archbishop laid the groundwork of a revival toward a more traditional view of authority that predates the Second Vatican Council, scholars said.
Gomez, 58, who has ties to the Opus Dei order favored by the Vatican, has received both praise and criticism for his work and views.
While he's a proponent of immigration rights, liberal Catholics have criticized him for his more conservative views. Gomez once criticized a Catholic university in San Antonio for allowing Hillary Rodham Clinton speak on the campus because of her views on abortion.
Once Mahony retires, Gomez will oversee the 5 million Catholics in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, which includes Ventura County.
While some critics have already labeled Gomez a "conservative," Mahony said such generalizations are unfair.
John Blewett, former vice president of Thomas Aquinas College in Santa Paula, Calif. said many Catholics are calling for leadership that is more aligned with Pope Benedict's desire to return to pre-Second Vatican Council traditions.
Daughrity said critics who have pegged the new archbishop as staunch conservative paint an incomplete picture of a complex man.
In the past, Gomez has ordained Catholic priests formerly in the Episcopal church and married. As a Mexican immigrant, Gomez also has been a strong advocate for immigration rights for all people, Daughrity said.
Some non-Catholics following the new developments in the Vatican and locally said people of all faiths are looking for direction from their religious leaders more than ever.
"Change is always good if it is taken with a sense of renewal," said the Rev. Gary Kyriacou of St. Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church in Camarillo. "Change is not good just for the sake of change. Right now, I would think the Los Angeles archdiocese would need a conservative leader with what they are going through. I think we all need to take ourselves to a more strict level and live the faith by its doctrine."
At Santa Clara Church in Oxnard, the Rev. Mariusz Bezek, a visitor, spoke to the Friday morning service attendees about the importance of change, transformation in the church and hope for all Christians.
Mary Solis, 72, said she was pleased to hear that Gomez has more traditional leanings. The idea of a Latino archbishop who could bring about change and revive the archdiocese excited the 72-year old Oxnard resident.
Despite all of the controversy the church has undergone, Solis said, the future relies not only on strong leadership but also on the continued faith of its followers.
(Marjorie Hernandez is a reporter for the Ventura County Star in California.)