Thursday, January 31, 2013

Statement on the release of clergy files

By Archbishop José H. Gomez 

My brothers and sisters in Christ, 

This week we are releasing the files of priests who sexually abused children while they were serving in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.

These files document abuses that happened decades ago. But that does not make them less serious.

I find these files to be brutal and painful reading. The behavior described in these files is terribly sad and evil. There is no excuse, no explaining away what happened to these children. The priests involved had the duty to be their spiritual fathers and they failed.

We need to acknowledge that terrible failure today. We need to pray for everyone who has ever been hurt by members of the church. And we need to continue to support the long and painful process of healing their wounds and restoring the trust that was broken.

I cannot undo the failings of the past that we find in these pages. Reading these files, reflecting on the wounds that were caused, has been the saddest experience I’ve had since becoming your archbishop in 2011.

My predecessor, retired Cardinal Roger Mahony, has expressed his sorrow for his failure to fully protect young people entrusted to his care. Effective immediately, I have informed Cardinal Mahony that he will no longer have any administrative or public duties. Auxiliary Bishop Thomas Curry has also publicly apologized for his decisions while serving as vicar for clergy. I have accepted his request to be relieved of his responsibility as the regional bishop of Santa Barbara.

To every victim of child sexual abuse by a member of our church: I want to help you in your healing. I am profoundly sorry for these sins against you.

To every Catholic in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, I want you to know: We will continue, as we have for many years now, to immediately report every credible allegation of abuse to law enforcement authorities and to remove those credibly accused from ministry. We will continue to work, every day, to make sure that our children are safe and loved and cared for in our parishes, schools and in every ministry in the archdiocese.

In the weeks ahead, I will address all of these matters in greater detail. Today is a time for prayer and reflection and deep compassion for the victims of child sexual abuse.

I entrust all of us and our children and families to the tender care and protection of our Blessed Mother Mary, Our Lady of Guadalupe and Our Lady of the Angels.

Sincerely yours in Christ,
Most Reverend José H. Gomez
Archbishop of Los Angeles

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Looking ahead

By Father Perry D. Leiker

Ezra, the priest-scribe, read from a scroll. Jesus, the teacher, also read from a scroll. The messages were different yet deeply connected, for both were understood to come from God and were clearly the word of God.

In today's readings, the people lie prostrate before Ezra and were terrified as he read God’s law aloud to them. But he then instructed them: “Do not be sad and do not weep. Go, eat rich foods and drink sweet drinks, and allot portions to those who had nothing prepared.” Rejoicing was the spirit that he instructed the people to have in response to this word of God.

The good news that Jesus read caused another form of rejoicing as he declared: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me. He has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor; liberty to captives; recovery of sight to the blind; and to let the oppressed go free.” To the poor and oppressed this was even better than rich foods and sweet drinks. The prophets spoke always about drawing close to God and listening to his word that would always bring goodness upon them.

Jesus truly proclaimed and was perceived to be the fulfillment of all that was promised in God’s prophetic word. It is Paul who, today, helps us realize our connection to all of this and to one another. According to Paul we truly are the body of Christ, and he is the head. But we are all connected to one another. When one hurts, we all hurt. When one rejoices, we all rejoice. The psalmist captures it most succinctly: “Your words, Lord, are Spirit and Life!”

Father Perry D. Leiker is St. Bernard parish administrator. Reach him at (323) 255-6142, Ext. 112. 

Friday, January 25, 2013

At annual March for Life, crowds show endurance, passion to continue

Young people with "The Crusaders
for Life" youth group at St. John
Cantius Church in Chicago cheer
as March for Life participants
make their way to the U.S.
Supreme Court in Washington,
D.C. (CNS/Bob Roller)
... From Catholic News Service

By Carol Zimmermann
Catholic News Service


WASHINGTON (CNS) The tens of thousands of participants at the annual March for Life in Washington, D.C., Jan. 25 demonstrated just how determined they are not only by showing up in such large numbers on a bitter cold day but by continuing a 40-year tradition of protesting the U.S. Supreme Court's decision legalizing abortion

"Forty years ago, people thought opposition to the pro-life movement would eventually disappear," Boston Cardinal Sean P. O'Malley told the crowd assembled on the National Mall for a rally prior to the march along Constitution Avenue to the front of the U.S. Supreme Court.

Continue reading: "At annual March for Life, crowds show endurance, passion to continue" ...

Thursday, January 24, 2013

The family is our future

Archbishop José H. Gomez
By Archbishop José H. Gomez

As I write this, I have just come from celebrating the Eucharist for the Second Sunday in Ordinary Time.

This year, we heard the beautiful Gospel story of the wedding feast at Cana. And it is no coincidence that the first public event that Jesus attends after his baptism is a wedding.

At Cana, Jesus is sanctifying the ancient natural institution of marriage. He is lifting up marriage and showing us what God intended for marriage from the beginning. Marriage is far more than a civil union. Jesus shows us that God intends it to be a “sacrament,” a sign of his presence and plan for the world.

The history of salvation is a “family story.”

In the first pages of scripture, we read about the marriage of Adam and Eve when the world was created. In the final pages we hear God’s promise that of a new creation in the “wedding feast” of Jesus Christ and his church.

From the beginning to the end of history, God is creating — from out of all the peoples of the earth — one single family. The family of God. His Catholic Church.

As you know, strengthening marriage and the family is one of my five pastoral priorities for the archdiocese. This is one of the great needs in our society and in our church in this time.

We have a crisis of the family. That is not too extreme to say. We can point to statistics — almost half of the children born today in our country are born to a mother who is not married. Or we can point to the fact that the definition of marriage is now a political “problem” that courts, legislatures and interest groups are trying to solve.

Some scholars are using the term “post-familial” and “families we choose” to describe attitudes today. More people are living as if marriage and family are not gifts from God, but arrangements they themselves make with people they themselves choose to live with.

The church — meaning each one of us — must lead the renewal and restoration of these natural and sacred institutions in our society.

As Catholics, we are the “keepers” of God’s family plan for history. And we know that in his plan, the family is the place where we find the happiness and love that he intends for us.

There are many things we can do — as individuals and in our parishes and communities — to rebuild a “family culture.”

We need to study and try to understand the forces — economic, political and cultural — that are weakening marriage and the family. We need to study alternatives and advocate for more “family-friendly” policies that make it easier for men and women to keep their families together.

But much of what needs to be done must come from us — from our support and from our example.

In this Year of Faith, let’s examine what we can do, as individuals and parishes. What can we do to help families where both parents are working? What can we do to help single mothers?

Little works of love and friendship can mean so much.

The best apostles for marriage and the family will always be married couples themselves. Begin where you are, my friends! Work to extend your circles of friendship and mutual care among other couples and families in your parishes and communities.

Perhaps you can consider forming small groups of couples to study the Bible or the Catechism or some spiritual book. Maybe you can organize volunteer activities to support a crisis pregnancy center or another agency serving children and families in need.

The family is our future — as a church and as a society.

So let us pray for one another this week. And let’s pray especially for marriages and for parents and their children.

Let’s ask our Blessed Mother Mary, who is our mother, to help every family stay faithful in love.

Archbishop José H. Gomez is archbishop of Los Angeles. His weekly column is provided by and appears in The Tidings, the official newspaper of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. Reach Archbishop Gomez at (213) 637-7000, or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/archbishopgomez.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Statement of Archdiocese of Los Angeles regarding news reports about clergy abuse documents

Statement from the
Archdiocese of Los
Angeles.
This statement of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles was released Jan. 22, 2013, from the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, Office of Media Relations:

No institution has learned more from mistakes made decades ago in dealing with priests who have abused young people than the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.

We have apologized for the sad and shameful actions of some priests, as well as for our inadequate responses in assisting victims and in dealing with perpetrators.

For more than a decade, however, few institutions have done as much as the Los Angeles Archdiocese to promptly report abuse allegations to civil authorities, to screen all those who supervise children, and to train adults and children in the latest abuse prevention procedures.

The past cannot be changed, but we have learned from it. We are justifiably proud of our record of child protection in the 21st century, and we remain vigilant against all that would harm our children and young people.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Looking ahead

By Father Perry D. Leiker

Mary appears in John's Gospel just two times: at the foot of the cross, and at the feast of Cana.

At Cana, Jesus states that "his hour" had not yet come. The hour, of course, refers to his death and resurrection. In the final chapters, Mary stands by the cross, the hour having been mentioned many times throughout the Gospel.

We understand the reference: Any moment in life could be considered "the hour," whether it is positive or negative. It could be the hour when someone proposed to us. It could be the hour when we were promoted to the highest level of recognition in our life. It could be the hour when our child was born. It could be the hour when the jury says, "Not guilty!"

But for Jesus, "the "hour was more than just an hour, more than a single incident, more than some words of recognition. The hour of his death was what his whole life and ministry was about and the most significant act of his life. Every word he had preached, every utterance about the kingdom of God, became realized and fulfilled in the hour. Jesus' death and resurrection would fully proclaim his kingdom of love and forgiveness that we have been invited to discover and to live.

In Jesus case he walked the talk. What he preached and what he did were one in the same. There was no difference. He lived his word. His hour is our hour. His is the hour that has changed all of human history forever.

Father Perry D. Leiker is St. Bernard parish administrator. Reach him at (323) 255-6142, Ext. 112.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Food for the Poor special collection

Monsignor Patrick Marron will visit
our parish this weekend to speak
on behalf of Food for the Poor.
This weekend we welcome Monsignor Patrick Marron who is visiting our parish to speak on behalf of Food for the Poor.

Monsignor Marron will share what he has witnessed about Food for the Poor’s Mission to care for the destitute as a means of living out the Gospel mandate to love one another.

Brochures are available in the church. Please be generous. And thanks!

Friday, January 18, 2013

Life is beautiful

Archbishop José H. Gomez
By Archbishop José H. Gomez

As I write this, I am praying and reflecting and getting ready to celebrate our annual Requiem Mass for the Unborn.

Every year, near the anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion, we gather to remember the victims of abortion. This year, our Requiem will be held at 6 p.m. on Jan. 19, at our Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels. We will also be live-streaming the Mass through my Facebook page.

I hope you will be able to join us to pray for all the little ones whose lives have been lost and ask God for the grace to keep proclaiming his Gospel of life.

Promoting a culture of life is one of the five priorities for our archdiocese that I set out in my pastoral letter, “Witness to the New World of Faith.”

As Catholics we have been entrusted with the good news of Jesus Christ — that the human person is sacred and created in God’s image.

But we live in a society that has accepted legalized abortion for 40 years and is now moving more and more to the acceptance of euthanasia. This is the challenge we face — as a church and as individuals.

Life is beautiful and life is from God! This is the most basic message we proclaim.

We have just come out of Christmas time. And Christmas is when we can see the Gospel of life so clearly, so beautifully. We see that God loved us so much that he became a little child for us — so that we could find him easier to love.

We see that God wants to share and sanctify our lives. So he comes into the world as we do — as a child, with a mother and a father. So he grows up in a human family and learns to know friendship and love; joy, sorrow and suffering.

He does all this to show us that in his eyes, every human life is precious and every life is for a reason. God calls each of us by name, as a father calls his beloved children. All those children who die by abortion — they have a name that only our Father knows. They are precious in his eyes.

We have been in this struggle for life in our society for a long time. We need to keep at it. And we need to deepen our efforts at every level, beginning in our own personal commitment to the church’s teaching on life.

We need to proclaim in everything we do that life is beautiful; that children are a gift of God. We need to celebrate marriage and the family as cradles of life and schools of love and hope. We need to continue our efforts to reach out to women in need.

We also need to continue to resist the “anti-life” and “anti-family” movements and tendencies in our society. We need to remind our neighbors that the right to life is the foundation of every other right and liberty in our society — and the only foundation of true justice and peace.

If the child in the womb has no right to live, then no one does. If the child in the womb has no human dignity, then no one does.

Imagine the witness our Catholic Church could make in our society if every one of us truly lived the church’s social teachings in all their fullness. Imagine if every one of us were involved in the struggle to proclaim the sanctity of life and the dignity of every human being — from the child in the womb, to the immigrant and the prisoner, to the hungry and the homeless and the sick and terminally ill.

This is what it means to love as Jesus loved, which was the new commandment that he gave us.

In Jesus Christ, the love of neighbor and the love of God become one. This is the foundation of the church’s teachings on life.

The Jesus who comes to us in the Eucharist is the Christ who comes to us always in his most distressing guise — in the poor, the stranger, the immigrant, the prisoner, the terminally ill and the unborn. The one who says, “This is my Body,” also tells us, “As you did it to one of the least of my brethren, you did it to me.”

So we prove our love for God by our love for those God has created and put into our lives — especially those who are hard to love or a burden to love.

So let’s keep one another in prayer this week.

And let’s ask our Blessed Mother Mary to help us to love as her Son loved and to proclaim his Gospel of life with our lives.

Archbishop José H. Gomez is archbishop of Los Angeles. His weekly column is provided by and appears in The Tidings, the official newspaper of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. Reach Archbishop Gomez on Facebook at www.facebook.com/archbishopgomez.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Looking ahead

By Father Perry D. Leiker 

Trivia question of the day: "Who baptized Jesus in the Jordan?" It depends.

In the Gospels of Matthew, Mark and John it is clearly John the Baptist who does so. But in the Gospel of Luke (Luke 3:19-20), Herod has locked John up in prison. In Verses 21-22, John's name is not mentioned nor is anyone else – except the Holy Spirit.

For Luke, the Holy Spirit is very active, especially in the infancy narrative. The Spirit moved Zechariah, Mary, Elizabeth, Simeon, and most likely, Anna. The Spirit was indeed busy. The Spirit is so obviously present, seemingly the only active agent at Jesus' baptism. Luke gives us a Jesus so keenly in tune with and guided by the Spirit. The Holy Spirit takes such a unique and central role in the whole Gospel of Luke.

This continues on in Luke’s Acts of the Apostles, where we discover a spirit-led church that is born in the Spirit and grows rapidly and charismatically through the action of the Spirit.

The Spirit, so much at the center of Jesus' life and the beginning of his ministry, is the same Spirit that is central to the life of every Christian and his/her ministry. Just how aware are we of the Spirit's action in our lives? Do we know how to listen and respond? This feast of the Baptism of the Lord invites us to notice the central role of the Holy Spirit in our faith and lives.

Father Perry D. Leiker is St. Bernard parish administrator. Reach him at (323) 255-6142, Ext. 112.


Saturday, January 12, 2013

Catholic means ‘universal’

Archbishop José H. Gomez
By Archbishop José H. Gomez 

These first days of this New Year give me hope that 2013 will be the time when our leaders finally come together to enact a just reform of our immigration policies.

This is the end of “National Migration Week” (Jan. 6 to 12). And this year, my brother bishops and I in the United States are stressing the urgent need for comprehensive reforms that would end deportation policies that break up families and that would offer illegal immigrants a path to make restitution and become citizens.

It is long past time for our nation to address this issue. So I urge you to become involved in the debates in these coming weeks.

As the largest and most racially and ethnically diverse local church in the country, our church here in Los Angeles has an important role to play in this national conversation.

Because our church in Los Angeles is an “icon.” It is a sign of God’s plan for his kingdom and his church — which is to be one family of God that joins families of many colors, races, nationalities and languages.

But our local church is also a sign of the promise of America — which is meant to be one nation under God and a light of freedom, hope and welcome for peoples of all nations.

That is why one of my five pastoral priorities for the years ahead is to promote our sense of unity as one family of God. I really believe that in God’s providence, we are meant to be an example to our nation, and also a model of the church’s universal nature and mission.

The word “catholic,” as we know, means “universal” or literally, “embracing the whole universe.”

As we have heard throughout this Christmas season, Jesus came as a “Son of David.” That is, he came as a child of the Jewish people. But at the same time, he came as the “Son of Man,” as a child of all humanity.

His coming this way is a sign of his church and his kingdom. And it is a sign for our own identity as Catholics. We are all children of some people or another. We are Filipinos or Salvadorans or Mexicans or Irish. But no matter where we come from, in Jesus Christ we are made children of God and brothers and sisters as one family in his Catholic Church.

Jesus gave to his church the mission to proclaim this good news to everyone and to make this beautiful vision of God a reality in our world — beginning in every human heart.

That’s still the mission of our church and that’s still a call to conversion for each one of us. That’s the challenge of the new evangelization in a world that has become “globalized.” But before anything else, this Gospel is a challenge to our conscience.

We are called to break down every barrier, whether it comes from our pride or racism or fear, that keeps us from loving one another as brothers and sisters.

In a practical way, for us that means we can’t stay “stuck” in our own communities. We can’t look at ourselves as “Filipino Catholics” or “Hispanic Catholics” or Catholics from this or that neighborhood community. Our ethnic and cultural identities are important to who we are and who God wants us to be. But our identity in faith calls us to be much more than what we are by blood.

We need to remember always that line from the start of St. John’s Gospel: “To all who ... believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God – who were born, not of blood ... but of God.”

To be Catholic means understanding ourselves as sons and daughters — not only of our earthly parents, but of God. Our Catholic faith requires us to reach out beyond our boundaries. Beyond our own backgrounds and our own customary ways of doing things.

That’s what makes our Catholic Church so beautiful. We all have so much to share with our brothers and sisters and so much we can learn from them.

We need to make this process of sharing and learning a priority and a habit in our parishes and in our Archdiocesan ministries. Simple gestures can go a long way. Let’s look for ways to pray and worship with Catholics of different backgrounds and neighborhoods. Let’s learn about one another’s saints and customs.

So let’s pray for one another and for our country this week. Let’s ask for the grace to get to know people better and to love them as brothers and sisters.

And let us ask our Mother Mary to help us to realize that the love we are called to as Catholics is a love that has no borders.

For more on the U.S. bishops’ call for immigration reform, visit www.justiceforimmigrants.org.

Archbishop José H. Gomez is archbishop of Los Angeles. His weekly column is provided by and appears in The Tidings, the official newspaper of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. Reach Archbishop Gomez on Facebook at www.facebook.com/archbishopgomez

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Anointing of the sick

This sacrament is a powerfully healing sacrament meant to be given to the sick during their illness. It is not necessary to wait for the last hours for it is no longer referred to or thought of as "last rites."

This sacrament shares the sacramental gift of Jesus Christ for the purpose of strengthening, encouraging, and healing a person deep within their spirit. Even if one should die this sacrament usually prepares them and gifts them with healing peace.

Some suggestions to be shared with all your family members:

  • Call a priest at the beginning of a serious illness or hospital stay. 
  • Educate the family to understand that this sacrament is for healing. 
  • Invite family members to participate in the celebration of this sacrament. 
  • Do not wait for the last moments when a priest might not be available. In the last moments, surround the dying with the presence, love and prayer of family.
St. Bernard’s priests are available to confer the sacrament of anointing of the sick.

If you or a loved one would like to be anointed with holy oil or receive holy communion, call our church office at (323) 255-6142.

In addition, St. Bernard offers special services throughout the year dedicated to the blessing of the body, such as the blessing of throats on the feast day of St. Blase, or during our monthly healing services sponsored by the Spanish prayer group.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Looking ahead

By Father Perry D. Leiker

For a moment on this day of Epiphany, we focus on the light: "Rise up in splendor, Jerusalem! Your light has come, the glory of the Lord shines upon you."

Grace and light abound in the scriptures today. How could it not? We celebrate Emmanuel — God with us! We note our blessings and the gift of God that gives and has been given to us. Even the Magi come from the east following the light, the star. Light leads them. Light brings them to the Lord. Light shows them the way both within and without. The gifts they bring to Jesus are themselves gifts of light: gold (for kings), incense (for the gods), myrrh (to preserve the body in death for the great journey home).

Everything about this day reveals the light — except one thing: Herod the Great. Herod the insecure.

Herod lies and manipulates to find out all that he can about this child with the intention to get rid of the problem (the Holy Innocents). Although there is light in abundance, there is also darkness.

"Rise up in splendor, Jerusalem! Your light has come, the glory of the Lord shines upon you." Yes, Jerusalem is the city of light. Jerusalem, also, will become the city of darkness on that sad and dark, dark Friday. Matthew knows this. Matthew cannot allow us to only see light. Matthew knows that where there is light, darkness will follow. But at the same time, this light springs eternal.

Even in darkness, a new light will come. After all, this is Jesus we are speaking about. Emmanuel — God is with us!

Father Perry D. Leiker is St. Bernard parish administrator. Reach him at (323) 255-6142, Ext. 112.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

A New Year of Faith

Archbishop José H. Gomez 
By Archbishop José H. Gomez 

I hope that you all had a joyful and blessed Christmas. I hope that you all had a joyful and blessed Christmas. Thank you for all your prayers and good wishes that you sent me during this beautiful and sacred season.

We need to enter this new year with the confidence of Christmas. Our God is near. He has come to share our lives. He will never abandon us and he is nearest to us in our times of sorrow and suffering.

We need to walk with the confidence and the freedom of being children of God. Our Father listens to our prayers. He does not always give us what we ask for. But nothing is impossible with God. And in everything he is working according to his purpose for the good with those who love him.

So as we enter this new year in the Year of Faith declared by our Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI, we need a new commitment to grow in our faith as children of God.

The apostles asked Jesus: “Increase our faith!” That should be your prayer and my prayer every day throughout this new year and throughout the rest of our lives!

We need to nourish our faith — through daily prayer, reading the Gospels, and through the sacraments.

The Eucharist is key. The Eucharist is God’s gift of his very self — to be food that strengthens us on our journey; to be the fire of his love that purifies and sanctifies us.

One practical way to live this special time in our parishes is to try to implement our five pastoral priorities with new initiatives and new enthusiasm. So let’s work on these — education in the faith; promoting religious and priestly vocations; fostering our “catholic” identity as the family of God; proclaiming the Gospel of life; and strengthening marriage and family.

All of these priorities are about the New Evangelization.

We need to remember that many of our neighbors and family members are searching for Jesus. They are curious about him. Many have only external and superficial ideas about him. They need us to “introduce” them. They need us to invite them to “come and see” Jesus.

In this Year of Faith, we need to become joyful souls — men and women who spread the joy of our love for Jesus Christ to others.

We need to radiate a positive outlook that comes from knowing that God is alive and in charge — in the world and in our lives.

Let’s try to break our habit of complaining and try to get rid of all the little resentments and bitterness in our conversations and patterns of thinking. This isn’t easy. But the sacrament of penance helps.

Penance is the sacrament of self-knowledge. The more we examine ourselves in the light of God’s teaching and Christ’s example, the stronger we grow in understanding our weaknesses and gifts.

In the days before Christmas, our holy father wrote a very interesting article in the secular British newspaper, The Financial Times. His reflections can help us to make good resolutions as we try to live this Year of Faith.

The pope urged us to “learn to read the Gospel, to get to know Jesus.” And he called us to really engage in the affairs of our nation and our communities — inspired not by politics or ideology, but by the teachings of the Gospel.

I was moved by the holy father’s beautiful vision of the Church’s social doctrine:

“Christians fight poverty out of a recognition of the supreme dignity of every human being, created in God’s image and destined for eternal life. They work for more equitable sharing of the earth’s resources out of a belief that — as stewards of God’s creation — we have a duty to care for the weakest and most vulnerable. Christians oppose greed and exploitation out of a conviction that generosity and selfless love, as taught and lived by Jesus of Nazareth, are the way that leads to fullness of life. The belief in the transcendent destiny of every human being gives urgency to the task of promoting peace and justice for all.”

Let’s resolve to really live the Gospel and make it the inspiration for everything we do — in our homes, at work, and in our society. And let’s pray for one another — that we may all make this Year of Faith really count in our lives and in our church.

May Our Lady of the Angels, patroness of this great archdiocese, help us to increase our faith in this new year, as we seek to walk more closely with her Son, in the company of our brothers and sisters in his family, his Catholic Church.