San Antonio Archbishop Jose Gomez, the nation’s sole Hispanic prelate, is now in line to become the nation’s first Latino cardinal.
Pope Benedict XVI early Tuesday morning appointed Archbishop Gomez, 58, to take over the 5-million-member Archdiocese of Los Angeles upon Cardinal Roger Mahony’s retirement, at age 75, in February 2011.
Archbishop Gomez’s new title for the next year will be coadjutor archbishop of Los Angeles. He is expected to be named a cardinal in six years, when Cardinal Mahony turns 80 and no longer has voting rights in the College of Cardinals, which elects popes.
According to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Hispanics make up more than 35 percent of Catholics in the nation and 70 percent of the Los Angeles archdiocese. In a statement this morning, Cardinal Mahony said his diocese deserved to have a Latino as its next Catholic leader.
Archbishop Gomez is the nation’s only bishop who is a member of the Opus Dei religious prelature, which is an influential Catholic canonical structure made famous by the movie “The DaVinci Code,” though the portrayal was widely criticized as wildly inaccurate.