Church called to heal division: Gomez

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Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles, president of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, gives his presidential address November 16, 2021, during a session of the bishops' fall general assembly in Baltimore. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it is the first in-person bishops' meeting since 2019. CNS photo/Bob Roller

By Dennis Sadowski

BALTIMORE, USA, (Catholic News Service) –  The US Church today is called more than ever to carry out its centuries-long evangelizing mission at a time of spiritual awakening rising from “under the clouds of the pandemic” and the country’s uncertain future, the president of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops told his fellow prelates.

“People are starting to examine what they truly believe and what they value most deeply in their lives,” said Los Angeles Archbishop José H. Gomez, who spoke November 16 during the opening public session of the USCCB’s November 15-18 general assembly in Baltimore.

The questions people have allow the Church to continue its mission, even in an increasingly secularized society, the archbishop said.

The challenge, he said, is “to understand how the Church should carry out her mission.”

Gomez acknowledged that differences among members of the Church exist because of the differing views people hold on how to move forward. Still, he said, “there are also many signs of hope” that present new opportunities to bring the Gospel to others.

The archbishop turned to a 19th-century prelate to find inspiration for the path ahead. Archbishop John Ireland, who as a young priest served as a chaplain in the Union Army, was a “powerful advocate for African Americans and for the rights of immigrants,” he explained.

“Archbishop Ireland believed deeply in what Rev. Martin Luther King and others have called the ‘American creed,’ the belief expressed in our founding documents that all men and women are created equal and endowed with sacred dignity, a transcendent dignity, and rights that must never be denied,” Gomez said.

Gomez said that Archbishop Ireland illustrates how every Catholic shares responsibility for the Church’s mission.

“We are all baptized to be missionaries,” Gomez said.

“The Church’s mission is the same in every time and place. It is to proclaim Jesus Christ and to help every person to find Him and to walk with Him.”

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