Thursday, September 24, 2015


Today in Washington DC Pope Francis spoke to the U.S. Congress with a brilliant and uplifting Address.  Read it in its entirety to capture the depth and the inspiration of his sentiments and words.
Please find below excerpts from his heart-felt appeal to all of us to open our hearts and lives to our immigrant brothers and sisters, especially those living among us in the USA.  In addition, he urged us to continue to be a nation which continues to assist the world's millions of refugees in their escape from terrorism, conflict, hunger, and fear.  His words:
"In recent centuries, millions of people came to this land to pursue their dream of building a future in freedom.  We, the people of this continent, are not fearful of foreigners, because most of us were once foreigners.  I say this to you as the son of immigrants, knowing that so many of you are also descended from immigrants.  Tragically, the rights of those who were here long before us were not always respected.  For those peoples and their nations, from the heart of American democracy, I wish to reaffirm my highest esteem and appreciation.  
Those first contacts were often turbulent and violent, but it is difficult to judge the past by the criteria of the present.  Nonetheless, when the stranger in our midst appeals to us, we must not repeat the sins and the errors of the past.  We must resolve now to live as nobly and as justly as possible, as we educate new generations not to turn their back on our “neighbors” and everything around us.  Building a nation calls us to recognize that we must constantly relate to others, rejecting a mindset of hostility in order to adopt one of reciprocal subsidiarity, in a constant effort to do our best.  I am confident that we can do this.
Our world is facing a refugee crisis of a magnitude not seen since the Second World War.  This presents us with great challenges and many hard decisions.  On this continent, too, thousands of persons are led to travel north in search of a better life for themselves and for their loved ones, in search of greater opportunities.  Is this not what we want for our own children?  
We must not be taken aback by their numbers, but rather view them as persons, seeing their faces and listening to their stories, trying to respond as best we can to their situation.  To respond in a way which is always humane, just and fraternal.  We need to avoid a common temptation nowadays: to discard whatever proves troublesome.  Let us remember the Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” (Mt 7:12).
This Rule points us in a clear direction.  Let us treat others with the same passion and compassion with which we want to be treated.  Let us seek for others the same possibilities which we seek for ourselves.  Let us help others to grow, as we would like to be helped ourselves.  In a word, if we want security, let us give security; if we want life, let us give life; if we want opportunities, let us provide opportunities.  The yardstick we use for others will be the yardstick which time will use for us.  The Golden Rule also reminds us of our responsibility to protect and defend human life at every stage of its development."

[View the Pope's entire Address to Congress: ]

Tuesday, September 22, 2015


It is a great joy and grace to be in Washington DC and to witness Pope Francis arrive for the first time in our country.

He comes to us as the Successor of Peter and as the Vicar of Christ.  But he also brings with him a message straight from the Gospels of Jesus Christ:  open your hearts and lives, be embraced by the love and mercy of God!

Pope Francis as our Pope is doing two amazing things:  first, he is calling each of us to a deeper life in Jesus, and urging us to imitate in our lives the words and actions of Jesus during his life and ministry.  And secondly, he is calling us as members of His Body, the Church, to be more authentic, welcoming, and inclusive in reaching out to all peoples--especially the poor and those on the fringes of society.

People ask me all the time:  "What kind of Church is Pope Francis proposing for us?"  The answer is simple:  the Church of the Acts of the Apostles.  Pick up your Bible, and begin re-reading slowly the Acts of the Apostles--and you will see unfolding the community of believers where the focus is on the local level:  parishes and Dioceses.  The Second Vatican Council called this subsidiarity--decisions and actions are best taken at the lowest level possible.

I am particularly interested in listening as Pope Francis challenges us--members of a nation of immigrants--to welcome the newest wave of immigrants and refugees to our shores.

Let us join our prayers in welcoming Pope Francis, and in opening our hearts and souls to his inspiring call to love, mercy, acceptance, and welcome!

Thursday, May 21, 2015


The Los Angeles City Council has voted to increase the minimum wage in the City to $15 per hour by the year 2020.  Thirty years ago when I first became Archbishop of Los Angeles, I would never have thought it necessary to take such an enormous leap in low-end worker salaries.

Not any more.

There are many reasons for the hike, but two of them are really important:

1.     In past years, minimum wage jobs were also relatively short-term jobs.  They were meant for young people working part-time or others just entering the job market.  No one expected such jobs to be long-term and permanent work.  These jobs were to get a foothold in the work field, and then to move on to better middle class jobs.

2.     The number of next level, middle class, jobs across southern California have all but disappeared.  Recall after the Second World War how our area became a great leader in aerospace and defense companies.  Hundreds of thousands of people were employed in these good paying, middle class jobs over the years.  But gradually, because of many factors, those companies and those jobs began to disappear.

The result?  People desperate to provide for their families are increasingly stuck in low-paying jobs, most paying at or below minimum wage.  This is particularly true for our immigrant brothers and sisters.  There are no "better jobs" to move on to.

And it's not just the wages.  Minimum wage jobs almost never offer benefits such as health care, retirement plans, or other amenities from previous generations.  Many companies limit the hours for such employees in order to avoid having to pay for medical insurance.  Shifting schedules makes it difficult for such workers to get to other low-wage jobs, or to take some classes.

Another worrying result is the rapid expansion of low-income families, and increasing wealth of high-income families, and the narrowing group in the middle.

The real issue is not just about minimum wage jobs.  Rather, our goal must be to look for ways to narrow this growing gap between people at the top and those at the bottom.

The gap is not only economic.  In so many places across the country, it is also a racial divide.  Studies show that the minority communities of our country consistently remain on the lower rung of the economic ladder.  Both divides need our focused attention, and I hope that the 2016 Presidential candidates will engage our country in this discussion--and that they be required to lay out concrete plans to ease the divide and to provide greater economic opportunity for everyone.

Just a few areas might help move us in the right direction.  Home ownership has always been a past measure of success for our families.  We need to make home ownership more readily available to all of our people--through new qualification parameters, lower down payments, and other means that do not jeopardize either the families or the economy.

Most lower paying jobs offer no pension plan opportunities.  Even if companies offered a very simple plan these families could begin acquiring some equity for the future.

Social Security could raise the cap on payroll taxes so that the more affluent can contribute their fair share into the plan which will benefit them.

The City of Los Angeles plan will go a long way to help our poorer families.  But all of the incorporated cities in Los Angeles County need to match this new increase in the minimum wage for it to have its full effect.  If a company in Los Angeles City just moves a few miles to a small city with a lower minimum wage, then everyone loses.

The widening gap between those at the higher end of our economy and those at the lower end of our economy must return to its former, historic narrow range.

Thursday, April 9, 2015


On Good Friday this year I was privileged to make the Via Crucis, the Way of the Cross, with the parishioners of St. Patrick's Parish in central Los Angeles.

The Stations were written and acted out by young people of the parish.  What made these Stations unique was the integration of the traditional Stations with the realities of their own community.  A brief summary of each of the 14 Stations follows:

1st:     We stopped at an intersection near the Church where where a young man who was mentally disabled was struck and killed by a car as he walked home on Ash Wednesday night from Church; ashes still on his forehead.  Remembrance of senseless accidents.

2nd:     An elementary school was the next stop; reflection on Jesus' care and concern for children in his ministry; remembrance of children suffering in broken or violent homes.

3rd:     Stopped opposite two Botanicas, or drug stores, where in the past sales of drugs took place.

4th:     Next location was a former small church, now covered in graffiti.

5th:     Paused in front of a high school and pondered the love of Jesus for young people, especially those living in barrios.

6th:     Stopped in front of an old hotel--the only place where African-Americans could stay in past years, especially when they were forbidden to stay in all other Los Angeles hotels.  Prayed for an end to racism.

7th:     Next location was next to a new Police Station, prayed for our law enforcement officials to help bring an end to street violence.

8th:     Paused opposition two liquor stores; prayed for an end to alcohol abuse and recovery for all addicted to various substances.

9th:     Stopped in front of one of the dozens of small clothing manufacturing plants where so many parishioners work; considered Jesus working there along side of these men and women.

10th:     Next stop was an ally behind clothing plants; reflected on so many people earning a minimum wage, no benefits, no rights; Jesus is here with the workers day and night.

11th:     Paused in the midst of a residential area, reflecting on Jesus knocking on the doors wanting to enter and dwell with our families.

12th:     Stopped in an ally and reflected on Jesus dying for all of us, abandoned and alone.

13th:     Next stop was another alley where the dirty sights and smells reminded us of so many people who mourn the loss of a loved one; Jesus there in our midst.

14th:     Returned to the interior of the Church to reflect on the burial of Jesus, awaiting the miracle of his resurrection in three days.

These Stations of the Cross were creative and imaginative, all situated in the living reality of the people of St. Patrick's Parish on Central Avenue and 34th Street.  The young people who developed them were amazing, and filled with faith a deep love for Jesus in his self-giving for all of us.

I have already entered this parish on my calendar for Good Friday 2016.

Thursday, March 26, 2015


In a recent study published by the Public Policy Institute of California it is reported that the attitudes among California residents have changed dramatically over the years.  Gone are the harsh and repressive attitudes of people 21 years ago when the infamous Proposition 187 was passed.

The following question was given to respondents:

"If you had to choose, what do you think should happen to most illegal immigrants who have lived and worked in the United States for at least two years?  They should be given a chance to keep their jobs and eventually apply for legal status, or they should be deported back to their native country."

The results were both gratifying and a bit surprising:

70%      they should be given a chance to keep their jobs

25%      they should be deported back to their native country

5%         don't know

To view the full report on immigration in California, please see this link:

While this study was done in California, across the country similar studies suggest that between 62% and 85% of all Americans surveyed would respond in the same way.

If this substantial support to allow unauthorized immigrants to keep their jobs and begin down an earned path towards legal status, why is it impossible to get members of Congress to pass needed legislation to make this possible?  That remains a mystery.

Each one of us needs to send an email to our House of Representative member and to our U.S. Senators urging them to pass needed immigration reform.

Let's continue praying for this intention, especially as we approach Holy Week and enter the joyous Easter Season.

Saturday, February 7, 2015


Pope Francis will meet with all the Cardinals of the world, along with those to be created on February 14, in Rome on Thursday and Friday, February 12 and 13.

We have been informed that the agenda will focus on the ongoing restructuring of the Vatican Curia, the various offices which assist the Pope in his governance of the Universal Church.

This will be fascinating, and it is becoming increasingly obvious that Pope Francis is leading all of us disciples of Jesus into a fuller and deeper relationship with Jesus as a first step.  Any renewal of the broader Church must begin with our own personal renewal in and through Jesus.  Then, Pope Francis is pointing us to a simpler organizational and administrative structure, preferring the simpler model of the Church in the Acts of the Apostles.  This model places greater autonomy at the local levels of the Church, as lived out historically in  the Eastern Catholic Churches and in the Orthodox Churches.

Over the centuries, the local level model gave way to a more centralized governing in the Vatican.  It is apparent that Pope Francis is now helping to re-shape the Church and using more fully those ancient structures which have been so pastorally fruitful:  Councils, Metropolitan Provinces, Synods, and Patriarchs. Note the Pope's decision to have the Pallium for new Archbishops bestowed in their Metropolitan Sees, not in Rome; and involving all of the Suffragan Dioceses in that process.

I have great hopes for the direction which Pope Francis is guiding us, and the Holy Spirit will surely be present and active the week of February 9 to 15.

Please pray for Pope Francis and all of the Cardinals attending these important sessions.

Friday, January 2, 2015


Today, January 2, 2015 over a million California undocumented residents will be able to legally apply for a Driver's Privilege card here in California.  Thank God!

Over the years I have heard the difficult stories of so many men and women who were forced because of job, school, or other need to get behind the wheel of a car without a license.  Their fears of being stopped, of possibly being deported, of suffering in many ways--all haunted them day after day.

Now, they must pass a written test, a vision test, and a driving test in order to qualify for a driver's licence in our State.  Some 250 of our parishes have been working with the possible applicants to prepare them to understand the Department of Motor Vehicles driver's booklet and to prepare for the tests.  It has been a long and important task for all of them, but they are anxious to become "legal" in at least this aspect of their daily lives.

It is possible that as many as 800,000 would be eligible here in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles for this driving privilege, and the Church is working diligently with many volunteers to help our people prepare well.

May this be a first step in a long journey bring our undocumented brothers and sisters fully out from the shadows so that they can participate fully in the life of our country where they have sacrificed and served for so many years.

Our Lady of Guadalupe, pray for us!