In the process, the native of Mexico — the lone American bishop professed as a numerary (full member) of Opus Dei — will make history, becoming the first Hispanic prelate placed in line for a Stateside red hat.
The appointment would bring to a close several months’ worth of intense consultation and speculation since word of Cardinal Roger Mahony’s request for an understudy began circulating late last year. A coadjutor will first spend some months learning the ropes alongside the 74 year-old cardinal before succeeding to the helm of the 5 million member local church — its Catholic population estimated to be three-quarters Latino — shortly after Mahony reaches the retirement age of 75 next February 27th.
Born in Monterrey and ordained for Opus Dei in 1978, Gomez served in Texas from 1987 in both Houston and San Antonio. A former executive director and president of the National Association of Hispanic Priests, in 2001 Pope John Paul II named him an auxiliary to Archbishop Charles Chaput of Denver, then rocketed him into the lone senior US post customarily held by a Latin cleric on his appointment to San Antonio in late 2004. Six months after his installation there, TIME magazine named Gomez one of the nation’s 25 most influential Hispanics.