VATICAN CITY (CNA) — On the eve of receiving his pallium from Pope Benedict, Archbishop Jose Gomez of Los Angeles said the mission of his archdiocese should be “to bring the mercy of God to the people of our time.”
“We’re called to be messengers of God’s love, God’s mercy, God’s peace. That’s what we have to continue to make the Archdiocese of Los Angeles a place where we can witness God’s love for us and for all his people,” the archbishop told a congregation of Californian pilgrims in St. Peter’s Basilica June 28.
The pallium is a white woolen liturgical vestment emblazoned with six black crosses. It symbolizes an archbishop’s pastoral authority and his unity the Pope.
More than 40 other new metropolitan archbishops from around the world received a pallium from the Pope June 29 at St. Peter’s.
Archbishop Gomez is joined in Rome by 250 fellow pilgrims from the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, the U.S. diocese with the most Catholics.
“It’s very special to be able to be here in Rome accompanying the archbishop and the pilgrims of the archdiocese,” Luciane Urban, the executive coordinator for the archbishop, said after the June 28 Mass before the pallium ceremony. “It’s also a great privilege to see all these archbishops from all over the world that are going to be here. It’s going to be beautiful to see the diversity of the Church, and it’s very special.”
Los Angeles priest Msgr. Kevin Kostelnik reflected on the significance of the trip to Rome.
“Being here in Rome is a wonderful opportunity for all of us as Catholics from the Archdiocese of Los Angeles to connect with the universal Church and to again express our affiliation with our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, especially as our new archbishop receives the pallium,” he said.
Archbishop Gomez says he sees the pallium ceremony as a special moment for both himself and the people of Los Angeles.
“It’s a great honor for me. The pallium, as you know, indicates the unity between the archbishops and the Holy Father. So I’m looking forward to that. I think it’s a blessing too, and it’s a moment when I feel especially my responsibility as a bishop in the Catholic Church.”
The sentiment is shared by his family, many of whom are in Rome for the occasion.
“What could be more important than to come with him — the archbishop — in this very important day for him, because it is very important work that he has been charged with by the Pope: being the archbishop of Los Angeles,” said his niece Maria Carmen Celaya.
The pallium ceremony had special significance because it was on the same day that Pope Benedict celebrated the 60th anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood.