Rocco Palmo calls the appointment of Jose Gomez to lead the archdiocese of Los Angeles "once-in-a-generation."

[I]n the church's nearly five-century history on these shores, no cleric has ever been thrust headlong into the leadership of a flock as massive as Archbishop Jose Gomez will inherit next February... and some 70 percent of it Latin, at that. (By way of comparison, LA's runner-up -- the archdiocese of New York -- is but half the Western mega-see's size.)

Already the nation's ranking Latin cleric for a half-decade, the further rise of the Mexican-born theologian shatters the "glass ceiling" of the bench's topmost rank as Gomez becomes the first Hispanic prelate who, in time, will receive the cardinal's red hat north of the border. In its broadest sweep, however, the move stands as a signal moment of arrival for the nation's roughly 30 million Latin Catholics -- half of them under age 25, a group expected to become the majority bloc of the 68 million-member US church within the next decade.

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