U.S. Catholic bishops elected their first ever Latino leader in a vote on Tuesday, elevating Archbishop Jose Gomez as president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).
Gomez, the Archbishop of Los Angeles, succeeds Cardinal Daniel DiNardo for whom he served as vice-president over the past three years. He was elected by an overwhelming majority of 176 votes during the first ballot and received an immediate standing ovation from the bishops present in the grand ballroom of the Marriot Waterfront Hotel.
Archbishop Allen Vigneron of Detroit will serve as Gomez’s vice-president for the three-year term. He was elected with 151 votes on a third-round ballot, beating out Archbishop Timothy Broglio, who leads the archdiocese for Military Services and received 90 votes.
Gomez, at 67, leads the nation’s largest and most diverse diocese in the country. Born in Monterrey, Mexico and naturalized as a U.S. citizen in 1995, he has become one of the U.S. Church’s most vocal champions of immigrants, regularly pushing for comprehensive immigration reform.
His 2013 book, Immigration and the Next America: Renewing the Soul of Our Nation, was dedicated to Pope Francis as the first pope from Latin America. He will now face the challenge of leading the U.S. bishops in their defense of migrants at a time when the Trump administration has threatened the status of hundreds of thousands of young undocumented migrants known as Dreamers and has vowed a continued crackdown of migrants at the southern border.
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