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Pope mourns and prays for late LA Bishop David O’Connell

Pope Francis sends condolences for the death of Late Bishop David O’Connell of Los Angeles, sending prayers and praising his witness as a priest close to the people.

By Deborah Castellano Lubov

Pope Francis has expressed his sorrow for the death of Los Angeles Bishop David O’Connell.

In a telegram sent on the Pope’s behalf by Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, to the Archbishop of Los Angeles, José H. Gómez, the Holy Father mourned the much-loved bishop known for being close to the people, and praised his witness as a priest.

“Deeply saddened to learn of the untimely and tragic death of Auxiliary Bishop David O’Connell, His Holiness Pope Francis sends heartfelt condolences and the assurance of his spiritual closeness to you, the clergy, religious, and lay faithful of the Archdiocese.”

Gratitude for Bishop O’Connell’s ministry

The Pope said he joined in giving thanks for the Bishop’s years of devoted priestly and episcopal ministry to the Church in Los Angeles, “marked especially by his profound concern for the poor, immigrants and those in need, his efforts to uphold the sanctity and dignity of God’s gift of life and his zeal for fostering solidarity, cooperation and peace within the local community.”  

“In commending the late Bishop’s soul to the love and mercy of Christ the Good Shepherd,” the message continued, “His Holiness prays that all who honor his memory will be confirmed in the resolve to reject the ways of violence and overcome evil with good.”  

The Holy Father concluded by imparting his Apostolic Blessing as a pledge of peace and consolation in the lord.

The Bishop’s funeral Mass will take place tomorrow, 3 March.

Murder of a loved Bishop

Carlos Medina, the husband of Bishop David O’Connell’s housekeeper, was charged with the murder of the late Irish-born Auxiliary Bishop.

Bishop O’Connell, 69, was found dead on Saturday, 18 Feb., with a gunshot wound to the chest in the bedroom of his home in Hacienda Heights, about 30 kilometers east of downtown Los Angeles.

The late Bishop O’Connell was a native of County Cork, Ireland, and ordained to serve in the Los Angeles Archdiocese in 1979, where for many years he focused on gang intervention, according to Angelus News, a local diocesan news platform.  

He later sought to broker peace between residents and law enforcement following the violent 1992 uprising after a jury acquitted four white LA police officers in the brutal beating of Rodney King.

In recent years, he also spearheaded Catholic efforts in the region to work with immigrant children and families from Central America.

Always close to the people

Pope Francis appointed him Auxiliary Bishop of Los Angeles on 21 June 2015.

His violent death has caused shock and sadness in the Catholic community of Los Angeles, but also in his native Cork.

Los Angeles Archbishop Jose H. Gomez on Monday described him as “a good priest and a good bishop and a man of peace” who showed “compassion to the poor, to the homeless, immigrants, and to all those living on society’s margins.”

“We’re very sad to lose him”, he added, expressing his gratitude to the investigative team “for their hard work in bringing the suspect into custody.”

Bishop Fintan Gavin, of Cork and Ross in Ireland, said in a statement that the late bishop “had always maintained his connection with family and friends in Cork” through frequent visits back to Ireland.

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