Monday, October 3, 2022

Column: Los Angeles’ Leading Catholic Declares Awakened Culture and Social Justice Movements

Earlier this month, José J. Gomez, Archbishop of the Archbishop of Los Angeles, gave a speech at a Catholic conference in Spain where he verbally became medieval about “awakened” culture and social justice movements.

Titled “Reflections on America’s Church and New Religions,” Gomez, with Tucker Carlson’s passion, laid two beloved boys to whip the right. He called such movements “deeply atheistic … pseudo-religious,” imposed on the world by an “elite class of leaders” using the media to eradicate Christianity.

These pesky elites, all of you!

The harsh speech was liked by many Catholic conservatives. But he didn’t get a round of applause from one of Los Angeles’s most Catholic institutions.

It will be the Hippie Kitchen, an industrial skid building used by Los Angeles Catholic workers to prepare and distribute free meals. There you will find a fair amount of religious iconography: several images of the Virgin of Guadalupe. A giant mural depicting a worn-out Jesus standing in line for bread among the hungry. There is also a mural of an angel using his wings to block baton-distributing cops trying to disrupt a multicultural picnic.

A volunteer hug organizer from Hippie Kitchen.

Volunteer Alan Pulner, foreground, hugs organizer Matt Harper at the end of his volunteer shift Tuesday at Hippie Kitchen on a sled.

(Myung J. Jung / Los Angeles Times) #

You will also find an LGBTQ flag with the word “Peace” on the outside. A sign above the entrance: “Stop the war! Taxes on the rich! Serve the poor! »Wall murals and posters denouncing police brutality, praising the diversity that undermines US imperialism.

Gomez’s speech “could have been written by a group of wealthy, elite Catholics,” said David DeCosse, director of campus ethics programs at the Jesuit-run Santa Clara University. A 60-year-old man spends his fall sabbatical at a Catholic workers’ home in Boyle Heights, Los Angeles. “This city pulsates with the energy of justice, and Gomez seems determined to judge, not engage and listen.”

The lay Catholic movement professes the gospel like its late founder Dorothy Day: a dedication to helping the poor and marginalized. She is on the path to canonization because of her revolutionary path. But Day, who was arrested during protests for a variety of reasons, from workers’ strikes to the proliferation of nuclear weapons under the age of 70, was just as beloved for lashing out at marginalized church leaders.

Like Gomez.

After all, it is the prelate who directed the US bishops’ attempt to deny the Eucharist to President Biden, a devout Catholic, because of his support for abortion rights.

Remind me: How many priests who raped children have the Catholic Church denied the sacrament?

Gomez actually cried out to Day in her fiery speech, saying that she had “a keen sense that before we can change the hearts of others, we must change ourselves.”

His chair did not mention the quote attributed to Day in a poster in a canteen serving soup to Catholic workers in Los Angeles. It didn’t show many tanks filled with dried beans, and it bore the words “Our problems stem from our accepting this filthy, rotten system.”

    Matt Harper - organizer of Hippie Kitchen

Matt Harper is the organizer of Hippie Kitchen, which feeds the hungry three times a week.

(Myung J. Jung / Los Angeles Times) #

Nearby, Matt Harper did everything from mopping the floors to folding the baking trays to give one last prayer before the Catholic worker shut down for the day (final thought: “A world without justice is tyranny”). He then sat down with other volunteers in a shaded dining room decorated with colorful bougainvillea to worry about whether there was a place for their work in today’s Catholic church.

“Disappointment. Disappointment. Hypocrisy,” said Harper, a 33-year-old Catholic cradle who matched the fashion of the awakened warrior with his trucker hat, nose ring and small sensors in each earlobe. He laughed nervously and continued. associated with social justice movements in the city, I was confused and worried about spillover effects on work [the L.A. Catholic Worker has] I’ve been doing this for 52 years. “

Anne Boden, 66, handed out razors outside the dining room entrance.

“Jesus would support all these movements,” said a Santa Clarita resident. Simple faith in Christ does not do everything. “You have to take care of people. If you don’t, you won’t do anything. “

Gomez doesn’t seem to see the bead rosary.

In a city with a housing disaster, an out-of-control sheriff, tremendous fear for the future, and where the COVID-19 pandemic is still killing, the leader of the largest Catholic diocese in the United States whines of “awakening.” culture. Los Angeles longs for a voice that will lead us to a better place, someone with moral authority that will comfort the afflicted and crush the comfortable.

As a Catholic who has covered a generation of church leaders who have shielded pedophile priests, I have been waiting for a local prophetic voice in my faith to follow Pope Francis’s example and challenge the growing injustices of our time.

Instead, we have Archbishop Gomez.

    Volunteers are serving lunch on a trolleybus.

Volunteers David DeCosse (left) and Alan Pulner serve lunch from Hippie Kitchen on a sliding walkway.

(Myung J. Jung / Los Angeles Times) #

“I’m furious,” Megan Ramsey said. She paced up and down the sidewalk next to Hippie Kitchen to pump up hand sanitizer for everyone who entered. “It repels young people, it contradicts the worldview of many. It was just like that. “

While conservative Catholics didn’t have surprisingly high ratings for Gomez’s words, an online petition demanding an apology to black Catholics garnered 13,000 signatures. His sin: he believed that the millions of people who protested after the assassination of George Floyd were in fact evil movements that he denounced “completely unleashed in our society.”

A diocese spokesman said the archbishop was not available for interviews because he is attending a biannual conference of the United States Catholic Bishops’ Conference, of which he is president. Gomez continued his words about culture war at the opening of the conference on November 16, stating that the United States was losing a national narrative “based on the biblical worldview and values ​​of our Judeo-Christian heritage.”

Archbishop Jose J. Gomez

Archbishop of Los Angeles Jose J. Gomez at a news conference in Baltimore on Tuesday.

(Julio Cortez / Associated Press) #

Gomez did not question his conservative views, much in the spirit of his predecessor, Cardinal James Francis McIntyre, who ruled the Archdiocese of Los Angeles in the 1960s and was so reactionary that he fled a group of nuns for being so damn liberal. … He publicly defended Saint Junipero Serra, the Franciscan missionary who established the California mission system, which modern history now views as an offensive colonization.

The archbishop also lectured at the Napa Institute, a conservative organization funded by wealthy Catholics who, over the past decade, has created a shadowy Catholic society to counterbalance Pope Francis, whom they perceive as being too liberal. Incidentally, their annual conference featured wines, reusable dinners and cigar tastings – because, as you know, Jesus was apparently a man of unusual tastes. It is not like Jesus told the rich that they would not go to heaven, or praised the poor or the peacemakers on the hill instead of the luxury resorts where the Napa Institute spends its evenings.

But Gomez’s policies run counter to Catholic Los Angeles, which has social activism in its DNA. Priests have participated in immigrant rights marches and anti-war rallies for decades alongside protesters who often carry images of Our Lady of Guadalupe among other saints. Settlements in this country revived interest in Saint-Martin-de-Porres, America’s first black saint.

(Pope Francis, incidentally, called social justice activists “social poets” and “collective Samaritans” in his October speech, and also took the time to crush “economic elites who so often emit superficial ideologies that ignore humanity’s real dilemmas.”

These movements “are a spiritually powerful space — anyone who spends time with them can feel it,” Harper said. “My relationship with God has improved with these movements. But because he refuses to participate, he will lose faithful in them. “

A Loyola High School graduate and former high school teacher in diocese schools said the Catholic volunteers last spoke to Gomez in 2018.

    Volunteer Jack Hastert works in the kitchen.

Volunteer Jack Hastert restocks the bread shelf at Hippie Kitchen.

(Myung J. Jung / Los Angeles Times) #

“The first thing he told us was, ‘I hear your community has never gotten along with us,” Harper recalls. He and the other volunteers left the meeting with what they believed was Gomez’s commitment to visit a hippie kitchen and walk them off-road.

Shortly thereafter, Gomez invited the Brazilian religious order to distribute free food on the trolley. Since then, he has not responded to repeated inquiries from the Catholic worker.

“It’s just a clear sign that we’re not being looked at,” said 57-year-old Kenneth Baldwin of Santa Monica. “Maybe we are not the Catholics he wants in his church.”

The Catholic Worker will continue, Gomez or not Gomez, as it is an autonomous group with no formal relationship with the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. But 26-year-old Mar Vista resident Rick Leigh, who has been volunteering with a Catholic worker since 2017, hopes the archbishop might think he can learn from community activism.

“I understand what he is trying to say, but I also think that if we make such statements, we also need action to speak,” he said. “Theology is important, but it’s easy to get carried away and become a different faction.”

Meanwhile, Gomez’s invitation to visit the Catholic Workers’ Hippie Kitchen remains open.

“And if he is happy to come,” Harper added, “I would be happy to invite him to the protest.”

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