SanAntonio Archbishop Jose Gomez is getting a promotion.
The Archdiocese of San Antonio announced Tuesday morning that Gomez has been named coadjutor archbishop of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles by Pope Benedict XVI. Gomez will be the successor to current Cardinal Roger M. Mahony, who has not yet retired but who is required to submit his retirement resignation to the pope next February, when he turns 75.
Los Angeles is the largest archdiocese in the United States.
Gomez will leave his current post in the Alamo City on May 26. No successor to Gomez has been named.
The San AntonioArchdiocese announced that it will soon name an archdiocesan administrator to work on an interim basis until a new archbishop is appointed.
Officials say Gomez is in Los Angeles on Tuesday, but will be back in San Antonio on Wednesday.
Mahony said he and his bishops would work closely with Gomez until early 2011, when Gomez takes over the archdiocese, which counts more than 5 million members, 70 percent of them Hispanic.
I welcome Archbishop Gomez to the Archdiocese of Los Angeles with enthusiasm and personal excitement, Mahony said in a statement.
Gomez said he was grateful for the appointment and the trust that the Vatican's nuncio had in him.
I will try with all my strength to earn that trust, he said in a statement.
Mahony was to introduce Gomez at a news conference later Tuesday in Los Angeles' cathedral.
Gomez was born in Monterrey, Mexico and studied theology at the University of Navarra in Spain. He was ordained in 1978 and worked in the Houston-Galveston area and in Denver before being named archbishop of San Antonio in 2004.
At a future concistory, the pope will likely name Gomez a cardinal, given that Los Angeles is such a large and important archdiocese whose leader has traditionally wornthe red hat.
Hispanics are the fastest-growing group in the American Catholic church. Latinos comprised 32 percent of all U.S. Catholics in 2008 compared to 20 percent in 1990, according to the American Religious Identification Survey from Trinity College in Hartford, Conn.
There are currently 65 million Catholics in the United States.
Benedict acknowledged the importance of the growing Hispanic Catholic community when he named Archbishop Daniel N. DiNardo of the heavily Latino Galveston-Houston archdiocese a prince of the church in 2007.
This just recognizes the reality on the ground that the center of gravity of U.S. Catholicism is moving to the South and West and is becoming increasingly Hispanic, said David Gibson, a Catholic author who covers religion for PoliticsDaily.com.