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GOMEZ-OPUSDEI (SECOND CORRECTION) Apr-9-2010 (500 words) xxxi

New coadjutor of Los Angeles one of 24 Opus Dei bishops


Archbishop Jose H. Gomez fields questions from priests during the 20th annual National Association of Hispanic Priests convention in Rosemont, Ill., last September. (CNS/Karen Callaway, Catholic New World)

By Cindy Wooden
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The new coadjutor archbishop of Los Angeles, Archbishop Jose H. Gomez, is the only U.S. bishop who was ordained for or incardinated in the Prelature of Opus Dei.

With a Catholic population of 4.6 million, the Archdiocese of Los Angeles is one of the largest dioceses in the world, and when Archbishop Gomez succeeds Cardinal Roger M. Mahony it will be the most populous diocese headed by an Opus Dei member.

Archbishop Gomez is one of 24 Opus Dei bishops around the world, although like any priest, once a member becomes a bishop, he answers directly to the pope and no longer to his bishop or religious superior.

An additional 22 bishops belong to the Priestly Society of the Holy Cross, an association of diocesan clergy associated with Opus Dei. Members include four bishops in the United States: Archbishop John J. Myers of Newark, N.J.; Bishop Robert W. Finn of Kansas City-St. Joseph, Mo.; Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio of Brooklyn, N.Y.; and Bishop John O. Barres of Allentown, Pa., said Marc Carroggio, an Opus Dei spokesman.

St. Josemaria Escriva de Balaguer founded Opus Dei, Latin for "work of God," in Spain in 1928 to promote holiness of life and the transformation of society through the professional work of its members, the vast majority of whom are lay people. He founded the Priestly Society of the Holy Cross in 1943 to share his message with diocesan clergy and provide them with spiritual assistance in their personal lives, Carroggio said.

According to the Vatican's 2010 yearbook, the Prelature of Opus Dei has more than 87,500 lay members, almost 2,000 priests and 337 seminarians.

In February Archbishop Gomez issued a 21-page pastoral letter, "You Will Be My Witnesses," on the Christian mission to evangelize. Most of the 78 footnotes were references to Bible passages or to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, but one was to a homily by St. Josemaria Escriva.

Archbishop Gomez wrote, "My approach and understanding of these matters owes a great deal to my appreciation of the spirituality of St. Josemaria Escriva. I continue to find St. Josemaria's teachings on sanctity and apostolate to be both profound and practical."

The archbishop quoted the saint as saying, "Whoever said that to speak about Christ and to spread his doctrine, you need to do anything unusual or remarkable? Just live your ordinary life; work at your job, trying to fulfill the duties of your state in life, doing your job, your professional work properly, improving, getting better each day. Be loyal; be understanding with others and demanding on yourself."

Cardinal Juan Cipriani Thorne of Lima, Peru, and Cardinal Julian Herranz, the retired president of the Pontifical Council for the Interpretation of Legislative Texts, are among the bishops who belong to the prelature, which is headed by Bishop Javier Echevarria Rodriguez.

Of the 24 Opus Dei bishops, three of whom are retired, 19 were born in Spain or Latin America. The other three are a Frenchman, an Austrian and a Kenyan.

END


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