Los Angeles Archbishop Jose Gomez candidly shared his grief and pain in an exclusive interview with NBCLA after Auxiliary Bishop David O’Connell was shot and killed last month.
The leader of the largest Catholic community in the country said he tried to mourn the loss of his “very close” friend while remembering O’Connell’s legacy.
“I think sadness is a normal thing, logical thing,” Gomez explained. “But it’s important to see his life was an extraordinary blessing for all of us – for me personally, and for everyone in Los Angeles.”
Since O’Connell was found shot on Feb. 18 at his home in Hacienda Heights, members of his home parish, St. John Vianney Catholic Church, remembered the 69-year-old clergyman as a dedicated, kind man with a sense of humor. Gomez said he tried to remember the fond memories with the man, who is simply known as “Bishop Dave” for the people of the LA archdiocese.
“I saw him a few weeks ago praying the rosary on the cathedral plaza. That was beautiful,” Gomez recalled. “That combination of dedicating [himself] to God and to people around him was more impressive to me. That’s what I’m trying to help people understand this.”
Carlos Medina, 61, has been charged with murdering O’Connell. He was arrested Feb. 20 following an hours-long standoff at his home in the 2400 block of Kenwood Avenue in Torrance. LA County Sheriff Luna said two firearms were recovered at Medina’s home. Medina is the husband of O’Connell’s housekeeper, and he also performed handyman work at the bishop’s home, authorities said.
The archbishop said while he was glad the suspect was in custody, he emphasizes forgiveness is part of the Catholic faith.
“It’s the process that’s obviously a reaction of anger, not being able to forgive is that,” Gomez explained, “but we have to go deeper on that and understand forgiveness is part of God’s plan for humanity.”
While imitating the life and teachings of Jesus may be a virtuous effort, has the archbishop himself forgiven the suspected killer who ended the life of his “beautiful friend?”
“That’s what I have to do, I’m trying to do, and I will do it.”
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Source: NBC Los Angeles
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