Archbishop Gomez: Pope Francis 'looking forward' to September visit to U.S.

Los Angeles Archbishop José H. Gomez visited Our Sunday Visitor May 14 for a brief talk on Pope Francis, the state of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles and Hispanic ministry. The archbishop was visiting Indiana to keynote a talk on Dorothy Day for a conference being held at the University of St. Francis in Fort Wayne, which is co-sponsored by OSV. (See full coverage in May 31 issue of OSV Newsweekly.)

During his talk, Archbishop Gomez, who returned from Rome earlier this month, shared insights from speaking with Pope Francis and of concelebrating Mass with him at the Pontifical North American College (NAC) during a conference on Blessed Junipero Serra in early May.

During their 35- to 40-minute conversation — which the archbishop said was conducted in Spanish — Pope Francis expressed how he is looking forward to his visit to the United States, Archbishop Gomez said.

In return, “I wanted to let him know that we pray for him, we love him, we support him and that people in the United States are very happy with his ministry,” the archbishop said.

The archbishop added that even though he’s never traveled to the United States, Pope Francis is very plugged into what’s happening in the country in terms of the Church, politics and the culture.

“It’s wonderful for him to come to the United States knowing that people love him and are ready to welcome him,” Archbishop Gomez said. “I think his going to the (NAC) was a beautiful introduction to what the Church in the United States is all about.”

“He knows that there are some challenges,” the archbishop said. “(The pope is) concerned about his speech at the U.S. Congress, which makes sense, anybody would be. But he is looking forward to coming to the United States.”

The archbishop had been in Rome for a conference on Blessed Junipero Serra, a Spanish Franciscan missionary who evangelized much of the West Coast and who will be canonized in September when Pope Francis visits the United States.

“(The pope) wanted to give us an example of what missionary work is all about,” Archbishop Gomez said, “so he decided to canonize Junipero Serra.”

While in Rome, he concelebrated Mass with Pope Francis and said he was struck by the Holy Father’s “piety and concentration” during the liturgy. “He comes to Mass and he really changes” from an outgoing Church pastor, to a quiet, contemplative priest, the archbishop said.

Archbishop Gomez also spoke about Los Angeles as “a little piece of the global Church,” where 70 percent of its 5 million Catholics are Hispanic.

“Latinos are becoming a more and more important part of the Catholic Church,” he said. “We need to engage them.”

Gretchen R. Crowe is editor of OSV Newsweekly.