BALTIMORE (CNS) -- Archbishop Jose H. Gomez of Los Angeles was elected to a three-year…
Archbishops Gomez, Vigneron elected president, vice president of USCCB
Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles was elected president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops at the bishops’ fall plenary Nov. 12. And after three run-off elections, Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron of Detroit was elected vice president of the conference.
Widely considered as the frontrunner, Archbishop Gomez, 67, was elected with an overwhelming majority. He has served as conference vice president since 2016 and is the first Latino president of the conference. Archbishop Gomez was born in Mexico and ordained a priest for Opus Dei in 1978. He came to the United States in the late 1980s and became a U.S. citizen in 1995. A vocal proponent of national immigration reform, Archbishop Gomez is the author of “Immigration and the Next America: Renewing the Soul of Our Nation” (OSV, $11.95).
With Archbishop Gomez’s election, the U.S. bishops gain a new leader with an impressive background. In addition to earning degrees in accounting and philosophy, he obtained a doctorate in sacred theology in 1980. He served in various capacities in high school and college apostolates of Opus Dei.
Archbishop Gomez also served in the leadership of the National Association of Hispanic Priests, as president in 1995 and executive director from 1999 to 2001, the same year he was named auxiliary bishop of Denver. There, he served also as a parish pastor and in diocesan administration. Archbishop Gomez served as archbishop of San Antonio from 2004 until his 2010 assignment as coadjutor archbishop of Los Angeles. He succeeded Cardinal Roger Mahony as the ordinary of America’s largest diocese in 2011.
At 71, Archbishop Vigneron’s three-year term will conclude just a year ahead of retirement age. With one exception in recent memory, the vice president has been elected as president of the conference. However, it remains to be seen, given Archbishop Vigneron’s age, whether or not he will be elected president in three years, as he would be nearing the retirement age of 75. This would mean a blank slate of candidates for conference leadership in three years.
Archbishop Vigneron was ordained auxiliary bishop for his native archdiocese of Detroit in 1996. He earned a doctorate in philosophy in 1987 and later, after a stint in service to the Holy See’s Secretariat of State, served as a seminary professor and rector in Detroit. There he removed several faculty members from Detroit’s Sacred Heart Major Seminary. Archbishop Vigneron has been outspoken on social issues including marriage, racism and the dignity of life.
In 2003, Archbishop Vigneron was appointed bishop of the Diocese of Oakland, California. There he was responsible for construction of the diocesan Cathedral of Christ the Light. He returned as the first native archbishop of Detroit in 2009. In Detroit, Archbishop Vigneron has overseen reforms centered on evangelization. Earlier this year he banned sporting events for archdiocesan schools on Sunday to reemphasize the importance of the Lord’s day.
Michael R. Heinlein is editor of OSV’s Simply Catholic. He writes from Indiana.