Archbishop José Gomez of Los Angeles tirelessly advocates for illegal aliens.  A native of Mexico, he has an ardent love of his homeland and his people.  He testifies frequently on Capitol Hill in favor of various amnesty-related issues, always in the name of the Catholic Church.  He promotes the same theme before various groups of wealthy Catholics around the country.

Last summer, he described his vision of “The Next America” at a conference in Napa Valley.  For Archbishop Gomez, the “Next America” will be decidedly better than the current one: “Our culture is changing,” he says.  “We have a legal structure that allows, and even pays for, the killing of babies in the womb,” he laments.  “Our courts and legislatures are redefining the natural institutions of marriage and the family.  We have an elite culture . . . that is openly hostile to religious faith.”

All too true.  So what is to blame for this travesty?  Pope Benedict XVI blames the “dictatorship of relativism.”  In Gomez’s view, however, the culprit is Old America, specifically “the idea that Americans are descended from only white Europeans and that our culture is based only on the individualism, work ethic and rule of law that we inherited from our Anglo-Protestant forebears.”  Our national heritage somehow encourages “a wrong-headed notion that ‘real Americans’ are of some particular race, class, religion or ethnic background”; it smacks of “nativism” and “bigotry.”

Archbishop Timothy Dolan, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, attacks the Obama administration for its anti-Catholicism.  For Gomez, prejudice primarily harms not Catholics, but Mexicans—the majority of whom are illegal aliens.  “America is in need of renewal,” says Gomez.  The solution?  Amnesty and more Mexican immigration.

Mexican immigrants “will bring a new, youthful, entrepreneurial spirit of hard work to our economy.”  They “are not afraid of hard work or sacrifice [and] the vast majority of them believe in Jesus Christ and love our Catholic Church.  They share traditional American values of faith, family and community.”

Gomez’s approach strikes a stark contrast to that of James Cardinal Gibbons, primate of the Catholic Church in America 120 years ago.  Gibbons stridently opposed the desire of millions of German-speaking American Catholics who wanted to preserve their language and their clergy.  The German-Americans appealed to Rome, claiming discrimination and demanding their own German-speaking bishops.  Gibbons countered that their position would invite the charge that “the Catholic Church . . . exists in America as a foreign institution, and that she is, consequently, a menace to the existence of the nation.”  Naturally, “the Germans are shining examples of industry, energy, love of home, conservatism, and attachment to their religion,” but Gibbons insisted that they assimilate nonetheless.  When the Vatican supported him, the patriotic cardinal proudly informed President Benjamin Harrison.  Harrison responded warmly, observing that, “Of all men, the Bishops of the Church should be in full harmony with the political institutions and sentiments of the country.”

How times have changed.  Has an American bishop ever banned Spanish Masses?  Today, most dioceses can’t provide enough of them.  Cardinal Gibbons demands assimilation; Archbishop Gomez rejects it.  Gibbons, fearing the allegation of anti-Americanism, seeks the approval of President Harrison; Archbishop Dolan condemns Obama’s anti-Catholicism.  Gibbons loves America; Gomez says it’s over.

Archbishop Gomez invokes history: Catholic missionaries arrived on the continent over a century before the Pilgrims.  Catholics are as much a part of our history as Protestants, he insists.  He envisions a Catholic renaissance, led by Hispanics, inspiring a “new kind of American patriotism.”  He denounces racism, but not the racists found in La Raza and the other hate groups who support a reconquista of the American Southwest.  He does not condemn Mexican communist and presidential candidate Manuel Obrador, who held a rally in Chicago in October reminding immigrants of their Mexican identity, and soliciting their vote in next year’s Mexican elections.  Gomez praises “the glorious legacy of Hispanic literature and art,” deftly averting his gaze from the violent crime that engulfs Mexico and the politically connected drug gangs that have murdered thousands, including the cardinal archbishop of Guadalajara.  The corruption of the political and business elites trickles down to the lowest campesino.  When I translate for the police in the Shenandoah Valley, the sheriff says, “Get their hands out of their pockets.”  He thinks they’re reaching for a weapon.  In fact, they are reaching for bribe money.  All their lives they have had to pay off every man in uniform that they have ever encountered.

These are the people who are poised to be the future of the American Catholic Church: While 30 million Americans are ex-Catholics, Hispanics constitute a majority of American Catholics under 30.  Whether or not the Next America is Hispanic, it appears that the Next American Catholic Church will be.  And if Archbishop Gomez has his way, the Next America will be Greater Mexico.