Archbishop Jose H. Gomez of Los Angeles said that the new Pope’s immigrant roots are a gift to the Church in the U.S. as it works to promote immigration reform.
“Pope Francis was born in Argentina, as we all know, but his parents emigrated from Italy to Argentina,” Archbishop Gomez said in Spanish during a March 17 Mass at the Cathedral of Los Angeles.
“He knows what it means to be the son of immigrants. He knows what we all go through in one way or another when we go to a new country.”
“In this year when in the United States we are committed to passing new immigration reform, the presence and the election of Pope Francis will be a great help,” the archbishop continued. “It is our Lord God who has given us another gift in the person of Pope Francis and is telling us that immigration reform is possible this year.”
He also said the election of the first Pontiff from America is a call to the continent to carry out the New Evangelization with greater strength.
Pope Francis, he continued, “who understands our realities and knows us well, must also lead us to understand our responsibility to be the hope of the Church and the hope of the world.
“There needs to be great spiritual renewal in each one of us, in each of our communities and in the entire Church in Latin America.”
Archbishop Gomez also highlighted the choice of the name Francis in honor of St. Francis of Assisi, “whom we all have a devotion to and know in one sense or another, and we know that his call was to rebuild the Church and devote himself to the service of the poor.”
“I think that the renewal of the Church, the New Evangelization, what the bishops of Latin America call the continental mission, must begin with each one of us and with our devotion to those most in need,” the archbishop stressed.
Together with material poverty, he noted, the world today experiences spiritual poverty.
“Material things are often more important to us than spiritual ones,” he said.
“How wonderful that Pope Francis wanted to begin his ministry precisely by asking for the intercession of St. Francis of Assisi for the New Evangelization and devoting his ministry to the poor,” Archbishop Gomez said.
“I also think it is a great time to value life and people more, as well as the participation of immigrants in the life of every country.”